POSITION TITLE: Staff Attorney, New Mexico Wild
CLASSIFICATION: Exempt Status
REPORTS TO: Executive Director
DATE: Posted 1/7/19 and Open Until Filled
The Staff Attorney will reinforce and advance the strategic engagement of New Mexico Wild in land use agency policy and planning activities and litigation to promote conservation and defend against threats to New Mexico’s wilderness, wildlife, and water.
The position will analyze policies and decisions related to federal land management and travel management planning by the USDA Forest Service and ensure the agency complies with applicable laws and regulations. Involvement will include promoting recommended wilderness area, wild and scenic river and other designations and resolving energy development and motorized recreation issues. In addition to building relationships with Forest Service personnel and attending public meetings, this position will be responsible for preparing analyses, reports, comments, letters, and other materials aimed at advancing and defending New Mexico Wild’s policy agenda and building the administrative record where appropriate.
The position will investigate and participate in litigation involving key protection issues. This will include legal research into current practices of agencies to ensure compliance with current law. This person will work closely with other legal staff, the executive director, and partnering organizations; engage with outside counsel to ensure New Mexico Wild interests are represented in decision-making and contribute to briefs as appropriate; represent New Mexico Wild in administrative processes associated with conservation efforts; file Freedom of Information Act requests and complete follow-up; and provide other support towards New Mexico Wild’s strategy for engaging in litigation as needed.
The incumbent will be an attorney with expertise in land use planning and policy; the effective application of environmental statutes (especially NEPA); and knowledge of federal land management agencies. This position will challenge agency decisions through engagement with agency personnel, administrative remedies, appeals and litigation, as appropriate.
She/he is expected to work both independently and as an effective member of teams and coalitions and have smart political sense and passion for protecting public lands. Across our team, we aspire to be results oriented, nimble, collaborative, innovative, transparent, and supportive of staff – our greatest asset.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Forest Service work:
- Develop and implement strategies to secure administrative designations for land protection and help ensure balanced development and recreation with conservation in land management planning processes.
- Attend Forest Service public meetings and develop good working relationships with key Forest Service personnel
- When appropriate, write letters, formal technical comments, and other correspondence relating to Forest Service planning and other land management decisions.
- Analyze trends related to land management planning, practice, and related policy to inform advocacy recommendations.
- Use the National Environmental Policy Act and other key environmental laws (e.g., Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Wilderness Act), regulations, and policies to protect wildlands.
- Participate in or lead coalitions in priority landscapes.
- Keep current on major public lands planning and forest issues and the associated political dynamics.
- Work collaboratively with New Mexico Wild staff and external partners;
- Provide expertise to New Mexico Wild staff and other stakeholders to advance New Mexico Wild campaign goals.
- Work closely with New Mexico Wild communications staff to ensure effective public messaging and communications for priority issues. Serve as an organizational expert and spokesperson as needed.
Litigation management work:
- Identify and evaluate opportunities for New Mexico Wild engagement in litigation in close and regular coordination with the executive director and other legal staff along with other New Mexico Wild conservation and campaign staff.
- Participate in New Mexico Wild engagement in litigation including working to integrate litigation strategy and engagement with defense campaign teams and externally with partner organizations and their counsel.
- Provide detailed tracking and regular updates to senior staff regarding status of ongoing litigation and participate in staff and board of director’s discussions, as needed.
- Identify New Mexico Wild members for standing declarations and assist with preparation.
- Engage with partners and outside counsel to ensure New Mexico Wild interests are represented in decision-making regarding litigation strategy, coordinating closely with New Mexico Wild staff engaged in underlying decisions/policy issues.
- Contribute to briefing and other aspects of litigation, as appropriate.
- Represent New Mexico Wild in administrative appeals, as appropriate.
- File Freedom of Information Act requests and complete follow-up.
- Provide expertise in planning and related policy to New Mexico Wild staff.
- Prepare analyses, reports, comments, letters, and other materials aimed at advancing and defending New Mexico Wild’s policy agenda.
- Support New Mexico Wild engagement in campaigns related to administrative protections, including coordinating with partners, identifying experts to influence agencies and meeting with agencies.
- Develop white papers, fact sheets, memos and briefings as necessary.
- Maintain regular contact with the relevant New Mexico Wild staff.
- File FOIA and IPRA requests, track, and appeal when necessary.
- Advocate positions with agency personnel and other stakeholders; lobby elected officials.
Experience, Competencies and Education:
- Law degree and member of good standing of the New Mexico Bar required.
- Minimum three years of experience in a similar role.
- Solid understanding of public land management planning and issues, and land management agency culture and policy.
- Ability to review and comment on agency proposals and actions, and identify key policy, legal, and political opportunities and pressure points.
- Ability to translate policy and planning expertise into effective strategies and tactics to protect wildlands.
- Understanding of litigation practice and strategy.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills.
- Passion for wilderness and land conservation.
- Self-reliant and a self-starter able to work independently and complete tasks with little supervision.
- Outstanding interpersonal skills.
- Enthusiastic, highly motivated, and trustworthy.
- Commitment to supporting others in accomplishing goals in an equitable and inclusive manner.
- Ability to manage a complex array of programmatic and organizational demands.
- Excellent strategic instincts and long-term vision.
- Integrity, tact, and discretion.
- Experience with litigation.
- Bi-lingual Spanish desired.
- Prefer Albuquerque based and full time. Negotiable.
New Mexico Wild is a statewide, non-governmental grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to conserving federal public lands in New Mexico. New Mexico Wild is an equal opportunity employer and actively works to ensure fair and equal treatment of its employees regardless of differences based on culture, socioeconomic status, race, marital or family situation, gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, physical ability or sexual orientation.
New Mexico Wilderness Alliance provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.
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