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Legal Program Director

Req ID: 7297
Location: Chicago - Loop
# of Openings: 1
FT/PT: Full time
Employment Type: Regular
Salary Schedule:
Job Notes:


The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)

Legal Program Director


NIJC advances human and due process rights for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers through direct legal services, impact litigation, advocacy and strategic communications.  Headquartered in Chicago with offices in Washington, DC, San Diego, CA, and Indiana, NIJC’s team of 125 attorneys, paralegals and professionals, along with 2,000 pro bono attorneys, provides critical legal services while advancing systemic reform. 



The Legal Program Director (LPD) will be a member of NIJC’s Senior Management team, reporting to the Executive Director. In this capacity, the LPD will be responsible for managing NIJC’s legal programs, providing strategic leadership, vision, management and evaluation of NIJC’s programs on a local, regional and national level. The LPD will ensure current and future programs are consistent with NIJC’s strategic plan and goals. The ideal candidate is an individual with management experience, an effective communicator and adaptable. The candidate should also demonstrate an ability to build teams and coordinate strategies across projects. The LPD will collaborate and support a vision for the most efficient and effective implementation of its legal programs to advance NIJC’s mission.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities: 

Strategy, Leadership, and Management  

(40% of time)

  • Provide strategic leadership and implementation of NIJC’s mission.
  • Manages legal directors and associate directors to build their teams and retain high-performing staff.
  • In consultation with senior staff and local and national partners, identify key legal issues and NIJC’s role in advancing those issues  
  • Liaise with and coordinate among all NIJC legal projects.  
  • Work with direct reports to develop their leadership in the delivery of legal services to ensure NIJC’s continued growth and success and to enhance NIJC’s reputation and opportunities for collaboration.
  • Identify the need for and develop new legal program initiatives.   


(20% of time)

  • Work with the COO and budget team in the allocation of resources and the development, implementation, and monitoring of programs, in accordance with strategic priorities that will enable NIJC to remain a leader in its field.
  • Evaluate NIJC’s legal services, identify new ways of executing priorities, recommend changes to drive business process improvement using an innovative approach. 
  • Support project leaders to identify opportunities to work together, create connections and use a collaborative approach to build teams and grow NIJC’s offerings.
  • Work with directors and associate directors to ensure quality and excellence in NIJC legal programs and ensure that each project’s qualitative and quantitative measurements are implemented and met Key Performance Indicators in NIJC legal programs and in our contracts and grants
  • Work with the pro bono manager to assess NIJC’s pro bono processes, identify issues and propose solutions to same. 
  • Work with COO and NIJC’s technology person to identify technologies that can improve NIJC’s legal programs, providing recommendations for adjustments to improve service delivery.
  • Provide leadership and direction for prioritizing programming and resources in accordance with NIJC’s long term goals. 
  • Identify and evaluate opportunities to deliver recommendations on what NIJC needs to prioritize.
  • Write and present reports to the Executive Director.
  • Present to NIJC Leadership Board on new initiatives or changes in NIJC’s priorities 

Performance Management

(20% of time)

  • Support directors and associate directors to develop and meet key performance indicators, measurement and evaluation, including metrics to track progress.
  • Encourage trust and passion for change among NIJC’s legal teams by demonstrating leadership and communicating a vision that leads to organizational excellence.  
  • Build a positive culture across teams that allows for the introduction of new processes or services and the winding down of services that are no longer responsive to the needs of the community and/or NIJC priorities.   
  • Identify training opportunities for team members.
  • Manage, develop, coach and train supervisees  

External Relations and Advocacy

(20% pf time)

  • Identify areas for NIJC to collaborate and opportunities on a national level to strengthen NIJC’s reputation.   
  • Contribute to the drafting of concept notes, proposals and reports.  
  • Serve as a spokesperson and champion for NIJC’s legal programs, promoting NIJC, making tough decisions to maintain NIJC’s position as a leader in the immigrant rights movement.


Competencies include:

  • Strong leadership skills, including in the areas of strategic planning and business processes, preferably with experience overseeing legal programs
  • Experienced manager of people, including demonstrated strength managing performance evaluation  
  • Experience achieving results within a climate of change, where external forces remain uncertain and where stakeholders may have conflicting objectives
  • Exceptional communicator, ability to work with a diverse, talented group of legal professionals to build trust, collaboration, and a culture that welcomes change
  • Demonstrated strength in managing and resolving conflict
  • Subscribes to NIJC values of advancing due process and human rights protections for immigrants and refugees
  • Experience balancing long-term strategic vision with short-term implementation, taking into account funding limitations
  • Experience seeing the big picture, planning for growth and having a vision to achieve operational efficiency along the way, while overseeing and supporting details of implementation.
  • Strong financial acumen and ability to assess projects  
  • Knowledge of the law, particularly immigration, civil rights, and human rights law is preferred
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills and experience in grant writing and reporting
  • Demonstrated skill in maintaining the balance between running a successful business operation and maintaining a strong mission focus as a nonprofit organization
  • Ability to be adaptable and nimble



To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Education: Advanced degree (JD or MBA) preferred
  • Experience: Five to 10 years of leadership experience, including experience working with an executive director and senior management team to achieve goals.
    • Proven experience building teams and strengthening organizational leadership
    • Experience in organizational change management
    • Legal experience preferred, particularly immigration law experience
  • Computer Skills: Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Reasoning Ability: Excellent analytical skills required.


Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk and hear.
  • The employee is regularly required to sit, stand and walk.
  • The employee is regularly required to use hands to key, handle, or feel and reach with hands and arms.
  • The employee is occasionally required to stoop, kneel, climb and/or crawl.
  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.


Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions, and operates all programs, services, and functions without regard to race, receipt of an order of protection, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, amnesty, physical or mental disability, protected veterans status, genetic information, sexual orientation, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, use of FMLA, VESSA, military, and family military rights, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September 1987.

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