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BC Civil Liberties Association

Staff Counsel (Litigation)

Litigation – Vancouver, British Columbia
Department Litigation
Employment Type Full-Time
Minimum Experience Mid-level

The BCCLA seeks a litigation lawyer who is passionate about using their legal skills to uphold civil liberties and human rights in Canada.

The position will commence in May 2019. The position will remain open until filled, which will not be before April 21, 2019. Interviews may be conducted on a rolling basis as we receive applications.

About usThe BC Civil Liberties Association is one of Canada's leading civil liberties and human rights not‑for‑profit organizations. Our mandate includes work on police accountability, democratic rights and fundamental freedoms, prisoners’ rights, national security issues, equality, and women's and LGBTQ+ rights. The BCCLA is a small team with a big reach.

About the positionThe Litigation Staff Counsel will litigate cases and engage in advocacy to uphold civil liberties and human rights throughout Canada. Responsibilities include developing and litigating impact‑driven cases on a wide range of issues at the trial and appellate levels of court, and acting for the BCCLA in test cases, often in partnership with pro bono lawyers. The Litigation Staff Counsel will represent the BCCLA publicly through speaking engagements and media interviews, and collaborate with staff in other departments to set goals and implement strategies that advance the BCCLA's priorities.

Our current legal cases include constitutional litigation on medically‑assisted dying, a legal challenge to the use of indefinite solitary confinement in Canadian prisons, and a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s mass interception of Canadians’ international phone and Internet communications. We also litigate high profile interventions at the Supreme Court of Canada and all other levels of court across Canada.

The BCCLA is committed to building an inclusive and diverse workplace and strongly encourages applications from all qualified applicants. Applicants from traditionally underrepresented or marginalized groups including Indigenous people, people of colour and LGBTQ+ people are welcome to self-identify, should they feel comfortable in doing so, in their cover letter.

The lawyer in this position will have the following principal responsibilities:


  • Investigate, develop, and litigate civil liberties and human rights cases in courts and tribunals; identify and recruit plaintiffs, conduct factual and legal research, prepare memorandums, draft pleadings and arguments, conduct discovery, argue motions, prepare witnesses, try cases, write appellate arguments and intervention briefs.
  • Supervise, lead, or participate in teams of associated lawyers; act as co‑counsel on cases with other public interest groups and BCCLA lawyers.
  • Recruit and work successfully with BCCLA pro bono lawyers.
  • Review, comment on and edit letters, pleadings and arguments of co‑counsel and other BCCLA staff litigation counsel.
  • Contribute to legal analysis and legal strategy with BCCLA staff.
  • Provide support to the Litigation Director and Executive Director on an as‑needed basis.

Leadership, Public Education and Teamwork:

  • Serve as a spokesperson for the BCCLA with the press and as a public speaker.
  • Work with the BCCLA’s communication, policy, and litigation programs on organizational priorities, and to implement integrated public education and advocacy campaigns and high‑impact strategies.
  • Engage with coalition partners, legislators, legislative staff, and community representatives working on similar issues, building issue networks across the country as appropriate.
  • Support the BCCLA’s efforts to educate the public by writing editorials, blogs and other materials.
  • Provide guidance and mentorship to more junior staff counsel and our articling student.
  • Pro‑actively communicate with the BCCLA’s staff and the Board of Directors so that they are well‑informed of upcoming hearings, judicial decisions, and important developments in the legal arena.
  • Manage project budgets and work with development staff to source funding, and prepare updates and reports for funders and the BCCLA Board, including financial reporting as needed.

SupervisionThe Litigation Staff Counsel will report to the Litigation Director, who is responsible for implementation of the nationwide legal program, and the Executive Director.

About you:

  • You possess the following personal attributes:
  • You are personally committed to advancing the BCCLA’s values, mission, goals and programs, with an understanding of and commitment to the wide range of civil liberties and human rights issues and their implications.
  • You possess an understanding of the state of civil liberties and human rights in Canada, of current events and the legal and political environment, and the ability to identify and prioritize the areas of opportunity to advance the BCCLA’s cause.
  • You are a reliable, creative, and energetic person who can handle and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; a self‑starter and finisher.
  • You are a team player and problem‑solver who inspires collaboration and functions decisively; flexible and well organized.
  • You have strong interpersonal and emotional skills and a sense of humour in order to maintain balance and perspective.
  • You are able to thrive in highly charged situations and adapt to changing conditions to get the job done.
  • You are able to commit to working at the BCCLA for a minimum of three years.

Experience and Qualifications:

  • J.D. or LL.B degree with at least four years of significant litigation experience strongly preferred. Less experienced lawyers with exceptionally outstanding abilities and experience will be considered; at least one year of litigation experience or the completion of a judicial clerkship is mandatory. Individuals with more experience are strongly encouraged to apply. Responsibilities will be commensurate with experience and demonstrated skill level.
  • Member of the Law Society of British Columbia or eligible for call to the BC Bar.
  • Exceptional analytical, research, writing, and speaking skills.
  • Substantive knowledge and understanding of constitutional law and civil liberties issues as well as the ability to think creatively and to use both litigation and non‑litigation strategies to promote objectives.
  • Demonstrated skills in litigating independently, jointly, and under pressure. Experience with constitutional litigation, both trial and appellate level, is an asset.
  • Comfortable engaging law firm pro bono lawyers and the tact to harness their partnership and respect.
  • Demonstrated leadership skills, including supervising legal staff and coordinating with both internal and external partners.
  • Superb organization skills with strong follow‑through and the ability to meet multiple and tight deadlines.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with both legal and non‑legal audiences.
  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively on a variety of projects with lawyers, other staff members, and with community organizations and coalitions.
  • Ability, or willingness and capacity to develop ability, in media and public speaking.
  • A commitment to diversity: a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences and understands power dynamics associated with race, ethnicity, age, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio‑economic circumstance.
  • Ability and willingness to travel periodically within BC and Canada.
  • Ability to work long hours when needed for an employer that strives to ensure its employees can enjoy a balanced lifestyle.
  • Ability in a language other than English is an asset.
  • Volunteer or work experience in non‑profit advocacy or other community‑based groups is valuable but not essential.


Salary is based on the BCCLA’s Salary Structure, commencing at $60,000 for a first year call and proceeding through to $90,000 for 16th year of call and beyond. Our target is to hire a fifth year of call ($66,000). Benefits include extended health and dental plan for the employee, spouse and dependents, a life insurance plan, as well as four weeks’ annual vacation and a generous sick leave policy. We recognize that talented women in particular may be alienated from legal careers because of the challenge of balancing family and personal responsibilities with a traditional law firm practice. Our progressive workplace environment includes the possibility for flexible work arrangements, including time off in lieu for overtime and telecommuting options. This is a full-time position; however, we will accept applications for part-time work.

Application and Selection Process:

Please submit the following through this application portal:

1.  Resume (PDF).

2.  Cover letter and up to two writing samples: one sample of your legal writing, and, if available, one sample of your writing for a public audience (all three document should be combined into one PDF).

3.  Contact information for three professional references in the designated application form fields.

When submitting your application please name and save your attachments with your first and last name in the title, such as: “FirstnameLastname Cover Letter and Writing Samples.pdf” and “FirstnameLastname Resume.pdf.”

The BCCLA offers a welcoming and respectful work environment. The BCCLA is an equal opportunity employer that is committed to building an inclusive and diverse workplace, and encourages applications from all qualified applicants. As noted above, we encourage applicants from traditionally underrepresented or marginalized groups to self‑identify in their covering letter or in the body of their email when they submit their application.

Interviews will be conducted by BCCLA staff at our office in Vancouver (accessible by elevator), or by video for candidates who live outside of the south coast of BC and southern Vancouver Island. The BCCLA will make appropriate accommodations if needed for candidates that we interview.

The deadline for applications is April 21, 2019. We will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis, so it is to a candidate’s advantage to apply sooner rather than later.

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