General Counsel

San Francisco, California, United States Full-time

Job Title: General Counsel

Location:  San Francisco, CA

Job Posting Date: May 24, 2018

Application deadline:  Open until filled


The General Counsel (GC) is a critical member of the ACLU -NC leadership team with a mandate to advise the executive staff and organization’s Board of Directors on governance and risk matters. This leadership role provides legal services and representation for ACLU-NC with respect to a broad range of work including, but not limited to, 501c3 and 501c4 compliance, employment, contracts, corporate, nonprofit, lobbying, and other laws and regulations. Additionally, the General Counsel is responsible for enlisting, directing and overseeing the work of ACLU-NC outside counsel as it relates to the organization’s own legal needs.

The General Counsel is responsible for developing an in-depth understanding of both the mission and the culture of ACLU-NC, with an emphasis on the growing demands of the organization’s internal human resources and other operational areas and external contracting, commercial and transactional matters in support of the organizations’ strategic priorities. The successful hire will be focused and committed to building strong relationships with their internal ACLU-NC colleagues and external ACLU-NC partners and others. A commitment to service, partnership, and teamwork is the hallmark of success at ACLU-NC, as is adaptability in the face of dynamic change. The General Counsel will be a solution oriented, helping the organization find solutions to accomplish its goals while reducing risk.

The General Counsel does not oversee or have a direct role in managing the ACLU of Northern California’s Legal and Policy program, which is overseen by other senior managers/Directors.

The General Counsel reports to the Executive Director of ACLU-NC and will be located in the organization’s San Francisco, California headquarters but may travel to our other offices in Fresno and Sacramento.

Key Accountabilities

  1. Compliance and risk management: As ACLU-NC’s counsel, the General Counsel plays a primary role in safeguarding the relationship between the two organizations and protecting their rights, tax exempt status, and public reputation; assuring compliance with all applicable corporate legal and regulatory requirements and commitments; defining standards and practices for corporate operations; issues related to legal ethics and practice of law; FPPC reporting; and assessing advising on and managing legal and regulatory risk.
  2. Day to day needs: Implement and execute the day to day regular legal needs of the organization, including employment matters, contract and lease review, political communications and lobbying issues, and other matters as they arise. Support other attorneys to address conflicts of interest, legal ethics questions, retainer agreements, etc.
  3. Support the organization in developing and adhering to internal policies: The General Counsel works closely with the Executive Director, Management and the Board of Directors to assure a culture of integrity, ethics and compliance across the organization and fostering the compliance and ethics programs, the development and execution of core organizational policies and adherence to strong governance standards.
  4. Governance: Support and advise Boards on governance and fiduciary issues.
  5. Strategy and planning: As the chief legal advisor to the Executive Director and the Board of Directors, the General Counsel provides analysis, counsel and guidance on the implications and risks of strategic and operating plans and decisions. The General Counsel is expected to engage closely as an advisor in organizational decision-making and strategic planning for the institution; to monitor and advise on emerging trends in an evolving legal, regulatory, and legislative environment; and to anticipate problems before they arise for the Executive Director and other members of the executive team, based on strong relationships of trust and confidence. 
  6. Other Responsibilities: The General Counsel is also expected to participate in selected non-legal matters as needed by the organization and as appropriate to the General Counsels’ specific skillset such as project management and government and community affairs. They will also directly supervise a legal assistant who will also support other senior staff. 

Personal/Professional Qualifications

The ideal candidate for this position will be a seasoned professional with successful experience in a legal role advising organizations on a diverse portfolio of legal matters.  An individual who can both work at the organizational and strategic level, but will do the actual legal work on a day to day basis.

Personal Qualifications

  • Strong professional independence and uncompromising professional ethics and integrity;
  • Powerful intellectual acumen and analytical capabilities;
  • Effective written and oral communication skills;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills;
  • Strong professional discipline and professional standards;
  • Strong strategic insight and professional judgment;
  • Commitment to ACLU mission;
  • Solution oriented and collaborative

Professional Qualifications

  • A JD from an accredited U.S. law school and a member in good standing of a State Bar.
  • A minimum of 10+ years of relevant experience gained in-house or in a law firm, or a combination of the two; experience can span non-profit, government, for-profit or other types of organizations;
  • Successful experience as a legal advisor and counsel to an organization;
  • Experience and demonstrated track record advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in their professional capacity.
  • A proven background in one or more of the diverse areas of the law in which the organization’s General Counsel practices including, but not limited to, general corporate, human resources, contract law, nonprofit governance, legislative policy advocacy, and tax law (501c3/501c4);
  • Demonstrated ability to spot potential issues, research new areas, develop new expertise and tap internal and external resources to find solutions across a broad array of issues;
  • Self-motivation and an ability to manage and complete a complex work load with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively in a complex organizational ecosystem.


Competitive salary and excellent benefits include four weeks paid vacation in addition to 14 office holidays; medical, vision and dental insurance for staff members, their dependents and spouse or domestic partner; life and long-term disability insurance; and, 401(k) plan with employer match.

To Apply

Applications must include (1) a cover letter explaining why you are interested in this position and the ways in which you satisfy the qualifications specified above, (2) resume, (3) writing sample (no more than 10 pages) and (4) a list of four references. Applicants concurrently applying to any other position with the ACLU should state what other position they are applying for in the cover letter.  Please submit your application in PDF format to the attention of General Counsel Search to:

The ACLU of Northern California advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to support a work environment free from discrimination on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (over 40), sexual orientation, military and veteran status, arrest or conviction record, and any other basis prohibited by law. The organization also provides reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. This equal employment opportunity policy applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, selection, advancement, training, problem resolution, and separation from employment. Through this policy, the ACLU-NC strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is supportive and free from discrimination.



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