Senior Staff Attorney or Senior Policy Advocate, Transportation Justice

Public Advocates is excited to announce a position on our Metropolitan Equity Team for an experienced Staff Attorney or Policy Advocate to carry out local, regional and statewide campaigns to win the public transportation that low-income California residents and workers need and deserve.

Our Metropolitan Equity Team is recognized for effective local, regional and statewide advocacy and for our commitment to supporting our grassroots and labor partners’ power-building efforts.  For nearly 20 years, we have advocated and litigated for funding and policy priorities to increase transit operations and reduce fares, and to ensure that public investment meets the needs prioritized by low-income communities of color.  We are at the forefront of statewide advocacy and coalition building to promote racial and economic justice, including cutting-edge campaigns that build solidarity between affected residents and the workers who serve them.  Our team works in a range of crucial issue areas: increasing affordable housing and social housing, protecting vulnerable renters and communities from displacement, ensuring equitable transportation policies and funding, and advancing climate justice and a Green New Deal.  Our work includes leadership roles in important statewide coalitions and co-sponsorship of major legislation on these issues.

Position Summary

The Senior Staff Attorney or Senior Policy Advocate we welcome to our team will work directly with the managing attorney who leads our transportation and climate justice work to expand and develop our transportation policy and funding work.  They will work with other members of our project team to carry out cutting-edge projects, including: (a) securing significant new sources of transit operating funding and advocating for action to address the transit worker shortage to avert a transit “death spiral,” (b) restoring transit service levels at local agencies, and reducing or eliminating fares, (c) setting aside transportation and climate investments to meet the needs underserved communities identify as most pressing, (d) ensuring compliance with civil rights and Environmental Justice requirements in transportation, (e) promoting equity in local or regional transportation planning, (f) ensuring that transportation and climate investments benefit, and do not harm, low-income residents and communities of color, and (g) protecting low-income communities of color in connection with “new mobility” issues such as ride-sharing and electric and autonomous vehicle technology.


The successful candidate will likely have experience in some of these areas and will be on a growth trajectory in others:

Campaign Leadership: With our community and labor partners, lead local campaigns to win increased levels of public transit service, improved working conditions for frontline transit workers that lead to rider benefits, and/or reduced fares.
Legislative and Administrative Advocacy: Analyze and develop regional and local policy proposals to raise and/or expend transportation funding, utilizing Public Advocates’ investment justice framework to ensure that revenues and expenditures meet the needs of disadvantaged communities.
Coalition Work: Work with existing and/or new local, regional and/or statewide networks of grassroots, labor and policy organizations, and support the capacity of local, grassroots and labor groups to advocate effectively for policy and investment reforms.
Strategy: Inform and shape strategic directions in our transportation program work, incorporating policy advocacy, community collaboration, media and communication to achieve our objectives.
Communication: Support the team and our communication staff to develop and execute outreach and media strategies, including messaging, community education, writing and representing Public Advocates and coalitions to the press and public.
[Attorney] Legal Research and Analysis: Analyze complex statutory, budgetary and regulatory provisions, and draft legal research memos on associated issues, including interpretation and legality of provisions.
[Attorney] Administrative Complaints and Potential Litigation: Explore, develop and pursue legal tactics to support the goals of our transportation policy and campaign work, including civil rights and other potential violations, administrative rules complaints, from demand letter through judgment or settlement.

Experience, ability and motivation to do the highest caliber policy work
Ideal candidate will likely have seven or more years of policy advocacy, campaign or legislative experience or equivalent with experience in one or more transportation policy and/or budget areas; however, candidates with fewer years of experience in relevant policy and advocacy areas are encouraged to apply (to be considered for a Staff Attorney or Policy Advocate role), as it is possible that we will fill this position with a more junior candidate.
Strong written and oral communication skills and, specifically, the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively about policy and/or budget issues to various audiences
Motivation and experience working with communities of color and/or low‐income communities and commitment to community and labor solidarity and power building
The capacity to collaborative effectively with both our team and with our partners, and to work independently to promote Public Advocates’ investment justice framework and the project
Strong organizational skills and the ability to successfully manage multiple and changing priorities and deadlines
For the Attorney position, California Bar Admission is required.
Preference for one or more of the following:Experience coordinating community or labor campaign coalitions
Experience working with base‐building groups, rank-and-file workers, or community or labor organizations and organizers
Qualities expected of all Public Advocates staff include integrity, high professional standards, commitment to progressive social change and working successfully with diverse colleagues, clients and community partners.  This includes active participation in promoting healthy workplace culture through our organizational diversity and inclusion initiative – an ongoing process of communication, trust-building and learning about our individual and organizational areas for growth.  We strive to build a culture of cooperation and mutual support and value flexibility, resilience, optimism, curiosity and a sense of humor.

Compensation & Work Setting

The Senior Staff Attorney or Senior Policy Advocate would either report to our San Francisco or Sacramento office*, or work remotely from another part of California, with a willingness to travel within the state.  Our Sacramento office is located just blocks from the Capitol, convenient to public transportation (we offer access to tax-advantaged commuter benefits).  Some travel likely, mostly within Sacramento and to the San Francisco Bay Area, but also to other parts of California.

Competitive salary range begins at $87,000-$108,000 for a senior attorney w/7-8 years of experience, or $75,000-$95,000 for a similarly experienced non-attorney policy advocate.  Actual salary will be based on relevant experience and internal equity considerations.

Benefits include: 100% of premiums paid for health and dental insurance for the employee and eligible family members; flexible spending accounts for health and dependent care; life and long-term disability insurance; generous vacation and paid holiday schedule; employer contributions to the 403(b) retirement plan; professional development budget; and paid sabbatical after 7 years.

* Public Advocates has implemented a hybrid return-to-office work model which allows staff to continue working from home 3 days per week w/the other 2 days spent working in the office with w/other colleagues.

Please note that Public Advocates adopted a COVID vaccination policy effective March 12, 2022, that requires all employees to either establish that they have been fully vaccinated and have received any booster dose(s) when eligible as recommended by the CDC or obtain an approved exemption as an accommodation.  All employees are expected to abide by this policy and any subsequent revisions.

Application Instructions

Applications are welcome immediately as we seek to fill this position as soon as possible.

To be considered, applications** must include: 1) a cover letter that a) explains your specific interest in this role and in our advocacy model and investment justice framework, b) addresses how your identity and background have prepared you to be an effective advocate for social justice and c) describes a project or challenge you have managed that will help us understand your qualifications; 2) a resume; 3) writing sample(s) that illustrate your reasoning and communication skills; and 4) names of three references, at least two of whom have directly supervised your work.  Submit your application (and/or questions) by email to metadvocatesnrsaparm@publicadvocates.org

** Those applicants requiring accommodation to complete the application and/or interview process should contact Human Resources at tgreco@publicadvocates.org for assistance.


To apply for this job email your details to metadvocatesnrsaparm@publicadvocates.org

About Public Advocates

For nearly 50 years, Public Advocates Inc. has been at the forefront of social justice movements in California as a bold and highly regarded civil rights law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination.  We pride ourselves on skillfully deploying a diverse set of legal and policy tools to achieve tangible legal victories and help low-income communities of color build their power to participate effectively in public decision-making.

As a team member at Public Advocates, you get to be involved in meaningful social justice work, positively impacting people’s lives and building power for low-income communities. You also get to work with a brilliant, committed staff. Public Advocates has a track record of caring for staff. Aside from well thought out policies and procedures, we provide comprehensive benefits, competitive salaries, opportunities for self-care and fun activities while working in a professional, collegial atmosphere. Our values are reflected in our mission, vision, and commitment to diversity.

At Public Advocates, we’re always looking for great people to work with committed to fostering a diverse staff and diversity in the legal profession and we seek to fill these positions with someone who shares our values, including our organizational commitment to diversity.* We value diversity in our workplace, including people of color, women, people with disabilities, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and anyone belonging to any other federal or state protected category.

Public Advocates reflects the rich diversity of California.  Two-thirds of our Board members and 60% of our employees are people of color.  Our senior leadership team also reflects our commitment to diversity.  Four of six members — including our President & CEO — are people of color, and three of seven members are women. We encourage all interested individuals to apply — especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color; women; people from low-income backgrounds; people with disabilities; people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or anyone belonging to any other federal or state protected category.