Staff Counsel

American Farmland Trust Published: February 29, 2024
Location
Washington / Fully Remote, D.C.
Skill Level
Mid Level
Job Type
Full-time
Categories
Legal / Planning / Land Use
(Number of Job Posting Views: 2)

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Description

Who We Are
 
American Farmland Trust (AFT) is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and helped thousands of farm families make a go of it (primarily through programs that increase farm viability and/or enhance farmland access). Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth, driven by agriculture’s most pressing needs and opportunities. 
 
We believe diversity drives innovation. We are inclusive. We embrace differences. We recognize and respect the fundamental value and dignity of all our employees. We celebrate the unique traditions, heritages, and experiences our employees bring to the workplace. We are committed to creating and sustaining an inclusive culture that promotes and values diversity, and where everyone feels empowered to bring their authentic selves to work every day. Please see AFT’s statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. 
The Position  
 
The Staff Counsel provides legal advice nationally across AFT’s offices and supports the following AFT activities: Corporate and Governance; Land Projects; Programs; Government Relations/Advocacy; Development; and Communications/Marketing. Under the direction of the General Counsel, responsible for handling a variety of routine to moderately complex legal projects.
 
Essential Functions:
 
Contracts/Corporate 
 
  • Draft, review, and negotiate contracts, MOUs, and subawards, and other agreements between AFT and partners, consultants, governmental entities, and others.
  • Assists in updating legal documents used regularly by AFT ensuring that the documents are authorized and are in accordance with relevant laws and policies.
  • Stay up-to-date on relevant developments in the areas of tax-exempt organizations law, real estate law, and others.

Land Projects

 
  • Support and advise program staff in developing, managing, and closing land projects, including agricultural conservation easement acquisition, amendment, and transfer; Buy-Protect-Sell plus transactions; farm legacy transactions (real property gifts); leasing; and other real property transactions.
  • Support and advise program staff on all phases of land projects (i.e., LOIs, MOUs; applications/agreements with public agencies and partner organizations (e.g. ACEP, RCPP); PSAs, bargain sale acquisitions, fee and remainder interest donation agreements; due diligence; closings, etc.).
  • Advise staff in conservation easement stewardship matters, including easement enforcement and defense.
  • Support program staff preparation and review of materials for the Land Projects Committee of AFT’s Board of Directors. 

General Program Support

 
  • Act as legal liaison for AFT’s programs.
  • Draft, review, and negotiate programmatic-related legal documents, and ensure that these documents are in accordance with laws, public policy, and internal policies and protocols.
  • Provides advice and counsel re: public and federal grant issues and public and private grant-funded projects.
  • Conduct relevant legal research and analysis of specific legal questions and requirements that apply to AFT’s existing and proposed activities. Prepare memoranda and opinions setting forth research results, conclusions, and recommendations.
  • Work with National Agricultural Land Network and Farmland Information Center to provide support and expertise to land trusts, governmental bodies, and individuals with respect to farmland protection matters.

Other Responsibilities:

 
  • As needed, and as time allows, assist with legal advice and services related to marketing, fundraising, intellectual property, human resources, and other nonprofit legal issues 
  • As needed, and as time allows, assist with legal advice and services related to advocacy and lobbying efforts, and compliance with local, state and federal lobbying laws;
  • Collaborate with staff to draft white papers and position statements, and to advance legislative and regulatory proposals.
  • Participate in judicial advocacy (e.g. amicus briefs) to support conservation agricultural issues.
  • Participate in seminars and conferences with respect to legal issues related to AFT’s work.
  •  This position has no direct supervisory responsibility at this time. 

Note: All job requirements are subject to possible revision to reflect changes in the position requirements or to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities. Some requirements may exclude individuals who pose a threat or risk to the health and safety of themselves or other employees. This job description in no way states or implies that these are the only duties to which will be required in this position. Employees will be required to follow other job-related duties as requested by their supervisor/manager (within guidelines and compliance with Federal and State Laws). Continued employment remains on an “at-will” basis.

 
Requirements
 
Qualifications:
 
  • Bachelor's degree, Juris Doctor, admission to state bar.
  • Requires a commitment to American Farmland Trust’s mission to save the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, promoting environmentally sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land. Underlying Beliefs
  • Experience with real estate transactions. Familiarity with conservation easements. Familiarity with agricultural land protection and agricultural conservation easements a plus. 
  • 1-5 years legal experience or commensurate real estate transaction and contracting experience.
  • Familiarity with working with tax-exempt nonprofit organizations and public agencies a plus.
  • Candidate should be results-oriented and creative in problem-solving.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Ability to draft quality legal documents quickly, and to respond promptly and helpfully to the needs of staff.
  • Aptitude for independent work exercising good judgment to manage legal risk within broadly defined policies and practices. Assignments are complex and substantially important to organization.
  • Comfortable working in multiple jurisdictions and managing multiple projects in a decentralized environment.
  • Requires sense of humor and composure when dealing with colleagues of diverse personalities and work styles.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work cooperatively and constructively as a member of a team.
  • Requires ability to change the thinking of, or gain acceptance of, others in sensitive situations, both within and outside the organization.
  • Requires ability to anticipate problems, identify probable issues of concern in advance.

Working conditions/Travel 

This job operates in a remote environment. Occasional work in the evenings or on weekends may be required to meet deadlines.  Some travel may be required for this position.  Travel is not expected to exceed more than 25%. 

 
Compensation
 
  • The salary range is from $115,000 to $130,000 for full-time employees, based upon experience. 
American Farmland Trust offers a complete benefits package:
 
  • Medical & Prescription Coverage 
  • Dental Coverage 
  • Vision Coverage 
  • Company Paid Life Insurance & Long-Term Disability (LTD) 
  • Voluntary Life Insurance 
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Healthcare & Dependent Care 
  • Health Savings Account (HSA) 
  • 401(k) with 10% match after six months of employment 
  • Sick Leave: Regular full-time employees accrue 3.5 hours per pay period (13 “sick days” per year). 
  • Vacation Leave: Accrue 15 days during the first year increasing by one day per year to 20 days per year
  • Holidays: The Company observes eleven holidays during the year (all offices closed): plus, choice of 3 other floating holidays depending on hiring date

Timeline

 
While applications will be accepted and reviewed until the position is filled, applicants who apply with a resume and cover letter will be considered first. 
Why you should apply
 
  • Be a part of a purpose-driven, committed, knowledgeable, high-performing, experienced and fun team
  • A diverse and inclusive work environment
  • A cause and mission you can be proud of
  • Competitive compensation & benefits
  • Remote work opportunities
  • Flexible scheduling

We provide equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, expression or identity, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Farmland Trust complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which we have facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

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