Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC) is hiring a staff attorney to work primarily on implementing the Cook County Just Housing Amendment (JHA), with a focus on the Uptown and Englewood neighborhoods and their surrounding areas. The JHA is a law adopted by Cook County in 2019, which prohibits (with a few narrow exceptions) discrimination against people in housing based on their records of prior justice involvement, including their arrest and conviction records. While this law has now been in place for several years, many landlords do not know about the law, do not understand the law, or simply ignore it. Over the last two years, UPLC, in line with our dual areas of work supporting Illinois people in prison and protecting tenants’ rights, has been one of the leading agencies enforcing the Just Housing Amendment.
Secondary duties of this position include representing tenants in a variety of related cases, including through UPLC’s medical-legal partnership with Heartland Health Alliance through its Uptown and Englewood clinics.
This staff attorney will, under the supervision of the Legal Director and with the assistance of other UPLC staff, continue to develop UPLC’s Just Housing Amendment program. As part of this effort, this staff attorney will:
- Represent tenants who are denied housing in violation of the JHA. This will include representation before the Cook County Human Rights Commission, as well as in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Representation includes, but is not limited to, investigations of claims of discrimination, settlement negotiations, filing of complaints, mediation, and hearings.
- Provide training and other outreach and educational efforts to tenants, community groups, social service agencies, and housing providers in order to raise broad as well as targeted grassroots awareness about the JHA and to advise both landlords and tenants of their rights and obligations under the law.
- Initiate and further general and targeted advocacy efforts at the local, state, and federal level to advance fair chance housing rights. This will include coordination of a committee of legal aid organizations dedicated to fair chance housing, developing partnerships and collaborations with other agencies, and working with the Cook County Department of Human Rights and Ethics, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other government entities to craft policy on housing access and protections.
In addition to work in the formal medical-legal partnership and the JHA program, this staff attorney will work with various community organizations in Uptown and Englewood to strengthen UPLC’s relationship with, and ability to provide legal assistance to, community residents.
This staff attorney will also provide direct legal services in tenant’s rights and other cases that come to UPLC outside of the medical-legal partnership or community engagement efforts. This includes:
- Appearing in state court for eviction proceedings, and preparing for jury trials with the drafting of and responding to discovery requests, arguing any appropriate dispositive motions, engaging in settlement negotiations, and other litigation-related tasks.
- Representing tenants in other housing legal matters, including illegal lockouts, landlord retaliation, illegal entries, material noncompliance on building conditions and repairs, and discriminatory actions by landlords.
Additionally, this staff attorney is expected to:
- Support the training of paralegals, legal interns, and outreach workers, including reviewing their work, as needed.
- Attend CLE classes and legal community meetings on relevant legal and social justice topics.
- Perform other duties as assigned.
- J.D. and licensed to practice in Illinois by date of application, or having sat for the 2022 Illinois bar (applicants who took the bar exam this summer are encouraged to apply).
- Strong verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences.
- Strong interpersonal skills.
- Ability to work effectively with clients who have experienced trauma and/or crisis.
- Ability to take initiative, self-motivate, and juggle multiple tasks
- Community outreach and engagement skills, presentation and communication skills, experience with conducting trainings is a plus.
- Ability to develop advocacy strategies and comment on policies is preferred.
- Comfortable managing a workload of 25-40 matters and sensitive client issues, as well as the high-intensity atmosphere of litigation.
- Cross-cultural competencies and self-awareness around issues of power, privilege, and difference.
- Experience handling eviction cases, or general trial experience is preferred, but not required
- Demonstrated commitment to social justice and experience providing direct legal services to low-income communities is preferred, but not required.
- Applicants with a connection to either the Uptown or Englewood neighborhoods are preferred, but it is not a requirement of the job.
- All UPLC employees must be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID, with exceptions as provided by law.
Regular travel to UPLC’s Uptown office and the Heartland Health Alliance clinics in Uptown and Englewood. Occasional travel to area social service providers, typically but not exclusively in the Uptown neighborhood, and to the Chicago Daley Center courthouse in the Loop, is required. Most locations can be reached via Chicago public transit.
Monday through Friday, 9:30am to 5:00pm, approximately 38 hours per week.
Flex time and remote work options are available; however, in person attendance is generally required due to the nature of the work.
This is a full-time, exempt position. Non-traditional hours—weekends and evenings—may be required on occasion.
Uptown People’s Law Center is a nonprofit legal clinic located on the North Side of Chicago. Our work is focused on three areas: representing disabled people who have been denied Social Security disability benefits; representing tenants who are facing eviction, or other issues relating to their tenancy; and representing prisoners in civil rights lawsuits.
UPLC offers an entrepreneurial environment with a small staff of kind people who are passionate about their work. The dress code is casual (except for court appearances and certain meetings/events) and we are conveniently located a short walk from the Wilson Red Line stop. Full-time at UPLC is typically 37.5 hours per week, including half-hour lunches daily.
UPLC has a long history of commitment to engaging with social justice work, and values the diversity of perspectives its workers can bring to the table. We have begun working to formalize our commitment to diversity/equity/inclusion and to integrate it more explicitly into our work and office culture. We look forward to this position's input and participation in that work.
In addition, we as an office have extensive experience providing accommodations as necessary in order to establish equity in our working environment. If you are interested in discussing accommodations for this position or for the interview process, please feel free to include your query with your application. We do not require a disclosure of disability in order to extend an accommodation.
Send a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Job is posted July 27, 2022 and is available until filled. Please, no phone calls, emails, visits, or social media contact regarding the position.
Salary depends on experience and starts at $57,000/year. UPLC provides up to $300 a month towards health benefits (depending on personal costs, and untaxed if you get BCBS insurance through UPLC), as well as 2% of your salary to a Simple IRA, and generous paid time off to its employees.
UPLC is proud to be an equal opportunity employer, and as an organization committed to diversity and the perspective of all voices, we strongly encourage people of color, LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, and/or former prisoners to apply. Staff members are chosen on the basis of ability without regard to race, color, religion, ethnicity, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, HIV status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, national origin, or prior record of arrest or conviction, in accordance with federal and state law.