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Career Story: Advocate And Legal Lobbyist

Advocate And Legal Lobbyist

Job Title: Executive Director Of A Not-For-Profit Corporation

Type of Company: We fund programs that provide civil legal assistance to low income people.

Education: JD, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville

Previous Experience: I practiced law for 9 years, became a Legal Aid program director in 1979 and got this job thereafter.

Job Tasks: My primary responsibilities are providing leadership and direction to a staff of 17, advising and assisting the board of directors on policy matters and ensuring that there is public support, especially in the legislature, for funding for civil legal aid programs. That means I spend a lot of time meeting with other people, sending and responding to emails and talking on the telephone. I have to attend many public events to serve as the public face of my organization. In addition I prepare and deliver testimony to legislative and executive branch committees, urge bar associations and other groups of lawyers to support legal aid and go to many legislative fund raising events.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my work is the involvement it brings with many smart and committed people dedicated to ensuring that low income people can participate fully in our democracy.

the worst is working with people who think that their personal needs or the perceived needs of the particular organization they work with are more important than achieving the overall goal of increasing justice in Massachusetts.

Job Tips:
1.) Spend time understanding why you want to do this kind of work. That probably includes talking to lots of people in the field and working directly with low income people so you can understand their lives.

2.) Learn to speak and write clearly and forcefully.

3.) Read "Getting to Yes" and "Difficult Conversations" and practice what they teach.

4.) Take history, literature and political science courses.

5.) Learn at least one other language.

6.) Go to law school and take management courses at the same time.

7.) Find several people whom you trust to advise you.

8.) Remain humble; remember that the reason you are doing this work is to make the powerless able to stand up to the powerful.

Additional Thoughts: Remember that even stupid rules like having to write 300 words for this section of the survey seemed to make sense for someone.

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