Associate or Staff Attorney

Southern Environmental Law Center Published: January 29, 2024
Charlottesville, VA
Skill Level
Mid Level, Entry Level
Job Type
(Number of Job Posting Views: 1)

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The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people.

Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of over 200, including more than 100 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, VA, with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, DC.


The Southern Environmental Law Center is accepting applications for an Associate or Staff Attorney in our Charlottesville, Virginia office to begin work as soon as possible. This attorney will focus on energy law and policy within Virginia and will be a part of SELC’s Energy program. This is an excellent opportunity to be part of an organization that is successfully addressing some of the most important and challenging energy and environmental issues in the South and the nation.

  • SELC currently has a hybrid work model of at least 3 in-office working days and up to 2 remote working days per week. This is a full-time, exempt position.

About the Position

The primary goal of SELC’s Energy program is to fight climate change by bending down the arc of greenhouse gas emissions in the South’s electric power sector while ensuring that the new clean energy economy will relieve, not reproduce, the environmental and financial disparities of the old one. We work across a range of venues, including state and federal courts, state utilities commissions, environmental regulatory agencies, and legislative bodies. We also collaborate with allied groups with different perspectives in pursuit of shared policy goals and speak in public settings.

This attorney will have the opportunity to work on a variety of complementary matters to transition Virginia away from fossil fuels, including: (1) advocating in state and federal administrative and judicial proceedings, including matters before the commission that oversees Virginia utilities; (2) engaging in policy development and analysis in various settings at the state and federal level, including state regulatory and legislative matters; and (3) engaging with renewable energy advocates, business leaders, environmental groups and other public interest organizations, policy makers, legislators, and regulators to overcome barriers to emissions reduction efforts and to ensure that the renewable energy transition is just, equitable, and benefits the health and economy of all communities.

Associate attorneys gain valuable experience and knowledge working with experienced attorneys on litigation and legal advocacy in state and federal courts and before regulatory agencies. The term for associate positions is two years with the potential for a third-year extension. A Staff Attorney position, which requires substantial legal experience (as described below), is not similarly term limited.

Primary Responsibilities

SELC’s new Associate or Staff Attorney will:

  • Implement ongoing strategies in Virginia to advance clean energy such as solar power, curb climate changing emissions, decarbonize additional sectors of our economy, and achieve this transition in an equitable manner, and identify new, creative opportunities to achieve these goals.
  • Participate in administrative proceedings before regulatory agencies, including researching and drafting comments and engaging in public speaking.
  • Litigate cases as part of litigation team before commissions and in state and federal courts, including developing and implementing case strategy, conducting legal and factual research, drafting pleadings, motions, briefs, and other legal documents, working with experts, and representing clients before courts or commissions.
  • Engaging in policy analysis and development in various settings at the state and federal level, including state regulatory and legislative matters.
  • Cultivate strong relationships with SELC’s clients, partners, and external stakeholders.
  • Support SELC’s collegial and collaborative approach.

Required Qualifications

We are seeking a talented, multi-faceted lawyer with:

  • Relevant Experience
    • Associate Attorney: An entry-level position open to recent law school graduates, attorneys completing clerkships, and practicing attorneys. Typically, one to three years of experience.
    • Staff Attorney: At least four years of experience, or ideally more. Exceptional candidates will be experienced and enthusiastic litigators and/or attorneys with experience in energy law and policy.
  • A strong commitment to addressing the causes of climate change and advancing clean, sustainable energy resources in the South.
  • Excellent academic credentials.
  • Effective written and oral communication skills in both legal and non-legal settings.
  • Interpersonal skills and an ability to build productive relationships with a diverse set of clients, partners, and governmental officials and staff.
  • Experience working with technical experts for the preparation of reports or testimony.
  • A strong work ethic and sense of initiative.
  • Organization and project management skills.
  • Ability to identify and prioritize strategic objectives. 
  • A demonstrated capacity to work collaboratively across teams and offices of a multi-faceted organization.
  • A demonstrated commitment to SELC’s mission.
  • Strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. You have a genuine interest in and commitment to helping SELC create and foster a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace. You engage in ongoing personal learning and are eager to contribute to our organizational efforts to be a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

More About SELC

At our core, we are place-based, rooted in our region, and connected with the communities and clients we serve. We believe in an equitable and inclusive workplace that reflects the rich racial and cultural diversity of our region and allows diverse perspectives to come to the forefront. We approach our work with the highest level of integrity, holding ourselves to high standards with an emphasis on honesty, accountability, and thoughtfulness. We value collaboration and camaraderie, realizing we are strongest when we work together and knowing that everyone has a critical role to play. We strive for impact through a strategic, bold, pragmatic, and ambitious outlook that is dedicated to achieving powerful results. We believe in these values and in the power of SELC. We hope you consider joining us. Learn more at

Compensation & Benefits:

SELC offers salaries competitive with other environmental nonprofits nationally and provides an excellent benefits package. The salary range for an Associate Attorney is approximately $79,000 – $92,000, depending on experience. The salary range for a Staff Attorney is approximately $103,000 – $140,000, depending on experience. 

SELC is a PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness) eligible employer.

SELC will also provide relocation reimbursement for those relocating for an SELC position, up to a specific dollar amount and contingent on the move being at least 50 miles from the current primary address. For more details about our benefits package, please visit our Careers page

To Apply:

To apply, click on "Apply on Company Website" below to be directed to an online application where you may upload your application materials. Applicants must submit a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, and one writing sample. Interested persons should apply immediately. There is no deadline for applications. We intend to fill this position as soon as possible and will accept and review applications until the position is filled.

SELC is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to fostering an inclusive workplace environment. We are eager to welcome new team members who share this commitment. We still have much progress to make, but our goal is to create and maintain a staff that, at every level, reflects the rich racial and cultural diversity of the communities where we work and the clients that we serve. Persons of all backgrounds—including people of color, women, people with disabilities, veterans, and LGBTQ candidates—are strongly encouraged to apply.

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