Economic Justice Attorney – MLRI

The Opportunity: The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) seeks a dynamic and creative attorney to contribute to MLRI’s legislative and administrative advocacy and impact litigation to improve and protect access to critical safety net programs, including but not limited to SNAP and cash assistance. The attorney will join MLRI’s Economic Justice team – a collaborative team of four experienced and respected advocates. This is an opportunity to make a major contribution to economic justice work in Massachusetts.

About MLRI: Founded in 1968, MLRI is a nonprofit poverty law and policy center. MLRI’s advocacy and leadership advances economic, racial, and social justice for low-income people and communities through:

  • State and federal legislative advocacy
  • Administrative advocacy with state and federal agencies and administrations
  • Litigation
  • Coalition building and community lawyering
  • Other strategies to address laws, policies and practices that harm low-income people

MLRI’s advocacy strives to incorporate a racial equity lens and a community-driven framework that values the voices and experiences of people with lived experience of poverty and economic and racial injustice.

MLRI is also the statewide poverty law support center in the Massachusetts civil legal aid delivery system. Our advocates provide substantive expertise and technical assistance to frontline legal aid field programs and many other organizations that serve low-income people and communities in Massachusetts. For more information see MLRI.org.

About Our Economic Justice Practice: Economic Justice advocates are SNAP and cash benefit experts and respected leaders in Massachusetts and nationally. A few examples of MLRI’s work:

  • Leadership. MLRI’s Economic Justice Unit leads the statewide SNAP Coalition, co-leads numerous legislative campaigns, participates in national advocacy conversations, and pursues changes directly with state and federal policy makers.
  • Legislation. In collaboration with partner organizations, MLRI secured repeal of the state’s welfare “family cap” and the first increases in cash benefit grants in over 20 years, restored state-funded SNAP for lawfully present immigrants, prohibited “school meal shaming” practices, and required the state to provide a “common application” for Medicaid and SNAP benefits.
  • Litigation. Since 2014, MLRI has obtained class-wide prospective relief and nearly $20 million in back benefits for over 47,000 low-income households in three SNAP lawsuits.
  • Policy advocacy. MLRI’s successful work to reduce red tape and simplify access has made it easier to apply for benefits, streamlined enrollment for working families, older adults, and college students, and made it simpler for eligible families to stay connected to SNAP.

Over the last decade, MLRI has continued to expand in size, reach and impact. Currently, our annual operating budget is more than $7.5 million and we have 37 staff members. Since 2011 MLRI has been led by Georgia Katsoulomitis, the second executive director in the organization’s 56-year history.

Responsibilities:
Work closely and collaboratively with the Economic Justice unit to:

  • Identify, develop, and implement legislative and administrative advocacy and litigation strategies to improve and protect safety net programs in Massachusetts.
  • Provide legal and technical support to legislators, policymakers, local legal services programs, other advocacy and community organizations on safety net issues.
  • Help build and lead coalitions of community and grassroots organizations.
  • Respond to and work with media on SNAP, cash benefits, and other poverty law issues.
  • Develop and lead workshops and training events for lawyers and community advocates.
  • Write amicus briefs, regulatory comments, reports, policy briefs and advocacy manuals as well as shorter advocacy and educational materials and practical information for advocates, policymakers, clients, community members and other key stakeholders.
  • Represent MLRI policy interests in public forums, including legislative and rulemaking hearings and on statewide task forces.

Qualifications:

  • J.D. and licensed (or eligible to become licensed) to practice law in Massachusetts.
  • At least 5 years of relevant experience, which could include a combination of legal aid experience, administrative law experience, impact litigation experience, legislative experience, and/or policy advocacy with state and/or federal administrative agencies.
  • Commitment to MLRI’s mission to serve low-income and vulnerable populations and to advance an anti-racist, community-driven advocacy agenda.
  • Outstanding writing, legal research, and oral advocacy skills.
  • Ability to develop and lead litigation and statewide policy advocacy initiatives.
  • Ability to think creatively, be strategic, and exercise good judgment.
  • Ability to work confidently and carefully, both independently and as part of a team.
  • Ability to establish and maintain collaborative working relationships outside of MLRI.
  • Ability to flourish in a fast paced, non-bureaucratic work culture that values creative solutions.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience working with or on behalf of people and communities in poverty.
  • Knowledge, whether personal or professional, of safety net public benefits programs, especially in Massachusetts.
  • Experience with a practice area that intersects with safety net programs such as child support, subsidized child care, child welfare, or unemployment compensation.
  • Experience organizing or participating in coalitions of community and grassroots organizations.

Salary and Benefits:

  • MLRI offers competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a supportive working environment. MLRI provides a very generous benefits package including health, dental, vision, life and disability insurance, 403(b) plan employer contribution of 5%, as well as vacation, holiday, winter recess and family leave.
  • MLRI’s Staff Attorney salaries are based on salary scale range and are commensurate with skills and years of relevant post-JD attorney experience. For example, the approximate annual salary range for a staff attorney with 0-9 years of experience is: $70,000-85,000 depending on applicant level of experience. Internal equity considerations and average salary of the peer range will be reviewed and taken into consideration.
  • MLRI is currently operating on a hybrid schedule and is committed to a fair and equitable workplace that promotes work-life balance.

Applications:

  • To apply, please email a cover letter, resume and a legal writing sample to: humanresources@mlri.org
  • Application materials will be reviewed, and interviews will be scheduled on a rolling basis; interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to submit application materials promptly.

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

MLRI is an equal opportunity employer. We believe that having an inclusive culture and a staff, board, and volunteers with diverse personal and professional backgrounds and lived experience enhances our ability to meet our mission and creates an environment where all members of our community can thrive. We strongly encourage applications from people of color, women and non-binary people, immigrants, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, people with lived experience of poverty, and people from other underrepresented and historically marginalized groups.