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Senior Attorney – Impact Litigation in Prisons and Jails


Senior Attorney – Impact Litigation in Prisons and Jails

The Need

The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) seeks a senior attorney to join our impact litigation staff as soon as possible to assist in responding to the growing crisis in prisons and jails in the South.  COVID-19 has caused widespread infections in prisons/jails, depleted staffing, and exacerbated already inadequate conditions.  Deaths are occurring at unprecedented levels, and our work has taken on a new level of urgency.  We are looking for a lawyer with significant experience in Section 1983 litigation to join our litigation team.  The ideal candidate would have experience in prison/jail conditions litigation.  The commitment length of this position is negotiable, with a minimum commitment of one year required.

About SCHR

SCHR is working for equality, dignity, and justice for people impacted by the criminal legal system in the Deep South. SCHR fights for a world free from mass incarceration, the death penalty, the criminalization of poverty, and racial injustice.

Over our forty-four-year history, SCHR has forced county, state, and federal governments to make significant improvements in prisons and jails to reduce overcrowding, provide adequate medical and mental health care, and abate violence and abuse. We have argued and won five death penalty cases at the US Supreme Court, four of which challenged profound race discrimination in capital trials. Our combined litigation and policy advocacy helped bring about the creation of a statewide public defender system in Georgia. For more information about SCHR, see our website at

SCHR’s Impact Litigation Unit (ILU) challenges unconstitutional practices of the criminal legal system through federal and state litigation in Alabama and Georgia. Over the last decade, the ILU’s work has included cases on behalf of people who are poor and are being denied attorneys for their criminal cases, people who have faced the criminalization of poverty and debtors’ prison practices, incarcerated people who are subject to unacceptably high levels of violence or other barbaric conditions, people who have been harmed by police, and people detained in jails in overcrowded and deplorable conditions. Many ILU actions represent classes of people, though the ILU does take on individual representation from time to time.

The Senior Attorney Position

The Senior Attorney will join the thirteen-member ILU, consisting of eight attorneys (managing attorney, two senior attorneys, three staff attorneys, and two fellows) and five investigators. Specific duties will include supervision of lawyers and investigators in prison and/or jail conditions litigation, and other Section 1983 litigation.  The candidate will be involved in the day-to-day aspects of class action litigation, including drafting complaints, briefs, litigation correspondence, and discovery documents; taking depositions; preparing for and conducting evidentiary hearings; and so on.

The candidate must have excellent writing and oral advocacy skills and a proven ability to think strategically and creatively about litigation. SCHR seeks an attorney who takes initiative, responds to rapidly changing demands with flexibility, has skill and comfort working collaboratively with a team, ably balances working on multiple cases and assignments at once, and has a demonstrated track record of grace under pressure.  Experience managing litigation teams and providing supervision to junior staff and investigators is essential.  A positive demeanor and excellent interpersonal skills are critical to performing well in SCHR’s culture.

The successful applicant will have a demonstrated dedication to working with the poor and communities of color, a keen awareness of the class and racial issues underlying the criminal legal system, and a commitment to antiracism and the continued building of SCHR as an anti-racist organization.

Salary and Benefits

Salary is commensurate with experience, within SCHR’s modest, public interest salary range of $70,000 – $90,000. SCHR offers an excellent, 100% premium paid benefit package including medical, dental, vision care, and life insurance. Additional benefits include modest stipends for transportation and wellness, access to a flexible spending account, and childcare assistance (if eligible).

Experience and Other Requirements

Attorneys with a minimum 7+ years of litigation experience are invited to apply. Experience in Section 1983 litigation in federal court is required.  Minimum one-year commitment required. The candidate will work remotely at present while the SCHR office is closed due to the pandemic.  Driver’s license is required, and frequent travel within Georgia and Alabama will be required once it is safe to do so. Start date is negotiable with a strong preference for as soon as possible.


Submit letter of interest, resume, writing sample, and contact information for three references to Sara Totonchi, by email at careers (at) Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as SCHR seeks to fill this position as soon as possible. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.  The Southern Center for Human Rights is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, which welcomes qualified applicants of all races, ethnicities, genders, gender-identities, and sexual orientations, as well as those who have been system-involved.