Legal Fellow

Biodiversity Law Center Washington, District Of Columbia


JOB TITLE:  Legal Fellow
CLASSIFICATION: Professional 3
SALARY: $73,000 - $81,000
FLSA:  Exempt
DEPARTMENT:  Biodiversity Law Center
LOCATION:  Washington, DC
REPORTS TO:  Senior Attorney
LAST REVISED:  June 2023
The legal fellowship is a one-year position with the possibility of an extension to two years based in the Defenders’ Washington DC office. The position is intended for a highly qualified individual committed to wildlife and natural resource conservation. Primary emphasis is on providing legal research, writing, and litigation support for cases involving federal wildlife and natural resources laws to conserve biological diversity and on reviewing, researching, and drafting comments on proposed agency actions to support legal advocacy efforts designed to advance Defenders’ conservation goals. The fellowship generally starts in August annually.
  • Perform legal research, draft memoranda and pleadings, review and comment on administrative agency actions, and complete other work as assigned by supervisor;
  • Assist in cases brought under the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Clean Water Act, National Forest Management Act, National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, Administrative Procedure Act, Freedom of Information Act, and other federal statutes;
  • Participate in the development and advancement of Defenders’ conservation goals; and
  • Perform all other related duties as assigned.
Education: Juris Doctor; state bar license or in process of being admitted to a state bar required. 
Experience: up to three years of relevant experience, including experience in federal natural resources, public lands, and wildlife conservation laws.
Application Requirement: CV or resume, cover letter, and a legal writing sample (10 pages or less.) Please submit all three documents in your application to be considered. 
Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for All Defenders
Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for Professional 3
  • Ability to accurately maintain electronic and physical records 
  • Anticipate and meet the needs of internal and/or external stakeholders delivering excellent service 
  • Ability to clearly and accurately communicate with internal and external stakeholders
  • Ability to articulate complex ideas clearly, accurately and concisely
  • Ability to convey effective messages to broad and diverse constituencies
  • Ability and willingness to effectively represent Defenders’ interests in external environments
  • Ability to exert influence and build consensus with internal and external stakeholders
Critical Thinking
  • Ability to handle sensitive and confidential matters with discretion
  • Strong research and data analysis skills, including ability to gather and synthesize information from multiple sources to produce high quality work products in a consistent, efficient, accurate, and timely manner
  • Creative problem-solving and troubleshooting skills with willingness to experiment and innovate new methods.
  • Facilitate and promote the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into Defenders’ work
  • Ability to independently exercise appropriate judgment in response to complex and/or fluid environments
  • Strategic thinker with the ability to create high-level strategy, identify organizational-level impact, and translate strategy into relatable points and action steps
Project Management
  • Ability to work well under pressure and tight deadlines while balancing competing assignments
  • Ability to remain flexible and adaptable to shifting priorities while remaining responsive to urgent requests
  • Ability to take ownership of a project or process and to use problem solving skills to resolve issues
  • Ability to manage deadlines on multiple cross-functional projects in a dynamic environment
  • Demonstrated ability in managing competing interests on complex issues
  • Ability to independently initiate project and initiative ideas; managing projects and initiatives through to completion
  • Ability to create and implement programs, initiatives, and/or systems which will result in organizational-wide impact; assess specific needs; design oversee implementation; establish benchmarks and track key performance indicators; provide recommendations for improvements; advocate and champion the program internally
Coalition and Community Engagement
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to form effective working relationships with diverse constituencies including federal/state agencies; elected officials and their staff; Defenders’ members and donors; private landowners; hunters and anglers; community leaders; religious, scientific, and academic communities; and/or the general public
  • Ability to lead diverse stakeholders in collaborative activities, to anticipate issues impacting Defenders’ mission and make recommendations within Defenders, other organizations, and coalitions
  • Networking skills to engage with leaders in the conservation community, federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other organizations
Conservation Knowledge
  • Familiarity with Defenders’ legal, scientific, and/or political issues
  • Familiarity with national and regional social, political and ecological landscapes
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities for Legal Fellow
  • Experience in federal natural resources, public lands, and wildlife conservation laws. 
Physical Activities 
Check all that apply 
(N)Never, (O)Occasionally or (C)Constantly 
Ascending or descending ladders, stairs, scaffolding, ramps, poles and the like.
Moving self in different positions to accomplish tasks in various environments including tight and confined spaces.
Remaining in a stationary position, often standing or sitting for prolonged periods.
Moving about to accomplish tasks or moving from one worksite to another.
Adjusting or moving objects up to 10 pounds in all directions.
Communicating with others to exchange information.
Repeating motions that may include the wrists, hands and/or fingers.
Operating machinery and/or power tools.
Operating motor vehicles or heavy equipment.
Assessing the accuracy, neatness and thoroughness of the work assigned.
Environmental Conditions 
Check all that apply 
(N)Never, (O)Occasionally or C)Constantly 
Low temperatures.
High temperatures.
Outdoor elements such as precipitation and wind.
Noisy environments.
Hazardous conditions.
Poor ventilation.
Small and/or enclosed spaces.
No adverse environmental conditions expected.
Physical Demands 
Check only one 
Sedentary work that primarily involves sitting/standing.
Light work that includes moving objects up to 20 pounds.
Medium work that includes moving objects up to 50 pounds.
Heavy work that includes moving objects up to 100 pounds or more.
Visit to apply. 
All employees are required to satisfactorily perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their positions. The essential duties and responsibilities listed above are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.
Defenders of Wildlife requires employees who engage in in-person work activities, including business travel or onsite work, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. An applicant (i) who is disabled or pregnant or who has a qualifying medical condition that contraindicates a COVID-19 vaccination or (ii) who objects to being vaccinated on the basis of a sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice may request an exemption from this vaccination policy. This determination will be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with applicable law. Any medical information concerning an applicant's disability will be treated as a confidential medical record in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws.
Defenders of Wildlife provides equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to their race, color, creed, religion, sex national origin, ethnicity, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, personal appearance, family/parental status, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, or any other legally protected characteristic in all personnel actions.
Please be advised this position is union-eligible.