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SR. LEGAL DIRECTOR

ABOUT US:

The Surfrider Foundation is the world’s largest grassroots coastal conservation organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves, and beaches for all people through a powerful activist network. We have achieved many important victories by persuading state, federal, and local decision makers to protect vital coastal and ocean resources. These accomplishments demonstrate the important role of recreational users in advancing coastal and ocean stewardship. Since 1984, Surfrider’s appeal is not only our strong reputation and track record of success, but also the lifestyle and values we embody. As a grassroots organization, we interact daily with passionate supporters and volunteers creating an energetic, supportive, and results oriented community.

THE OPPORTUNITY:

Joining Surfrider Foundation as the Senior Legal Director presents an unparalleled opportunity to spearhead impactful legal strategies and shape the future of coastal conservation in the United States. As the leader of our Legal Department, you'll guide a team of dedicated attorneys in executing high-profile litigation and legislative advocacy campaigns that set precedents and drive tangible outcomes for coastal ecosystems and communities. Surfrider's mission to protect and enjoy the world's oceans, waves, and beaches resonates deeply with individuals who are committed to making a difference, offering a unique chance to combine your legal expertise with a passion for environmental preservation. Working collaboratively with our grassroots network of chapters and school clubs, you'll have the satisfaction of seeing your efforts translate into meaningful change, all while enjoying a supportive and inclusive work culture that prioritizes professional growth and well-being. At Surfrider, we don't just advocate for the coast - we live it, breathe it, and thrive in it.

POSITION SUMMARY:

As the Senior Legal Director at Surfrider Foundation, you'll lead our Legal Department in developing and executing strategic legal initiatives that advance our mission and safeguard coastal resources. Working closely with internal teams and external partners, you’ll oversee a diverse portfolio of litigation, legislative advocacy, and policy development efforts aimed at addressing pressing environmental challenges such as beach access, water pollution, plastic pollution, and climate adaptation. With a focus on both proactive and reactive legal strategies, you’ll have the opportunity to shape legal policies, secure precedent-setting victories, and foster collaboration across departments and regions. As a member of senior leadership, you'll play a pivotal role in building capacity within the legal team, nurturing talent, and strengthening relationships with key stakeholders to maximize our impact. If you’re a dynamic legal professional with a passion for coastal conservation and a desire to make a difference, Surfrider Foundation offers a compelling platform to elevate your career and drive meaningful change on a national scale.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

The Senior Legal Director oversees Surfrider Foundation’s legal endeavors, including over 20 active and potential litigation efforts throughout the nation, and leads the legal strategy development for the organization. The Senior Legal Director also oversees and advises closely on legislative advocacy campaign strategy at the federal and state levels.

The Senior Legal Director liaisons with the Board of Directors regarding premier legal campaigns and assists with general counsel duties. The Senior Legal Director coordinates and oversees legal advocacy through the combined efforts of volunteer attorneys, legal interns, the Legal Issues Committee to the Board of Directors, Chapters and staff. Overall, the Senior Legal Director is charged with development and communication of litigation strategy and legal policy analysis for the organization to successfully focus on furthering Surfrider’s mission of protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches for all people.

The successful candidate will lead the advancement of organizational priorities and strategic plan goals, with primary responsibility for some matters, while also working collaboratively with outside counsel, staff, and Chapter members of the Surfrider Foundation.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Assist in creation and execution of legal strategies to advance the Surfrider mission and strategic plan goals;
  • Lead litigation efforts, assessing the viability of potential cases, formulating legal strategies, and representing the organization's interests in court.
  • Collaborate with internal and external partners to advance legislative and advocacy initiatives.
  • Supervise and mentor legal staff, providing guidance and support to ensure high-quality legal services.
  • Cultivate partnerships and alliances with community groups, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders.
  • Serve as a spokesperson for Surfrider, articulating legal positions and advocating for the organization's mission.
  • Collaborate cross-departmentally with teams including Communications, Development, and Policy.
  • Manage a team of two (Sr. Legal Associate and Legal Associate)
  • Manage and Collaborate with Legal Issues Committee of the Board
  • Collaborate with coalition partners to advance campaign work;
  • Advise Surfrider headquarters staff on questions related to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and related matters that arise;
  • Advocate for coastal conservation measures at the national, state and local level, including through litigation, administrative advocacy and legislative work; and
  • Engage in public outreach and communication through the Surfrider Foundation website, action alerts, blogging, media responses, Chapters conferences and meetings, etc.

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE

  • A Juris Doctorate from a U.S. law school and current bar admission in a state where Surfrider conducts mission-related work is required.
  • 5 years’ experience with environmental litigation and advocacy, with a focus on coastal issues is preferred.
  • Litigation experience, including assessing case viability, crafting legal strategies, and courtroom representation
  • An effective team leader with strong written and oral advocacy, research, analysis, and campaign and leadership skills, including a track record of demonstrated success and a commitment to environmental protection.
  • A bright, creative individual who has a strong work ethic, sound judgment and ability to work well in a collegial setting.
  • Willingness to travel to campaign locations and in assistance to grassroots chapters around the nation is preferred.
  • A supportive and collaborative colleague, able to contribute towards the overall positive culture at Surfrider Foundation.
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, with demonstrated awareness of and sensitivity to diverse perspectives and needs.
  • Proven track record of effectively communicating complex legal concepts to diverse audiences, both verbally and in writing.
  • Strong leadership skills with experience managing legal teams and fostering a collaborative work environment.
  • Deep understanding of relevant laws and regulations related to coastal and ocean conservation, including environmental statutes and case law.
  • Strategic thinker with the ability to identify opportunities to advance Surfrider's mission through legal means.

NICE TO HAVE:

  • Experience working with grassroots organizations, community groups, and diverse stakeholders.
  • Passion for Surfrider's mission of coastal and ocean conservation, with a genuine dedication to coastal and environmental law.

SALARY AND BENEFITS:

Salary Range: $148,000 Minimum - $175,000 Maximum

The Surfrider Foundation researches, evaluates, and compares like-sized non-profit organizations to establish ranges for each position level to ensure that employees are justly compensated. The established range takes multiple factors into account; experience, educational background, scope and complexity of work, special skills, added value to the organization, geographic cost-of-living, inflation/current market demand, equity, and more. The Surfrider Foundation prides itself on a high rate of retention, with 32% of staff having been employed with the organization for 10+ years. Please keep in mind that the maximum end of our ranges also account for longevity and tenure within the role.  

Benefits: Medical, dental and vision coverage monthly premiums compensated 100% by Surfrider Foundation, Long-Term Disability insurance, Employee Assistance program (EAP), Section 125 Flexible Spending Account (FSA), 401(k) plan with partial employer matching. Surfrider Foundation provides paid holidays, vacation and sick time. We also provide 6 weeks of paid parental leave following the birth of an employee’s child or the placement of a child with an employee in connection with adoption or foster care.

TO APPLY:

The Surfrider Foundation has retained the services of ThinkingAhead Executive Search. Please submit your resume and expression of interest to: Jessica Martinez at: jmartinez@thinkingahead.com and Dan Kuhar at dkuhar@thinkingahead.com.

JEDI COMMITMENT:

The Surfrider Foundation is committed to fostering a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization for all people who protect and enjoy the world’s ocean, waves, and beaches. Our success and impact depend on learning from our community, standing in solidarity with our allies and working towards a more just future, both for our organization and the environmental movement as a whole. https://www.surfrider.org/justice-equity-diversity-inclusion