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Vice President, Conservation Law

Job Location

Washington DC


Type of Job



$147,000 - $164,000

Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Nov 22, 2022

About the job

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The Vice President of Conservation Law is a senior management position responsible for developing and implementing strategies for furthering Defenders’ conservation goals through litigation, administrative law, and policy advocacy. The position requires extensive knowledge of federal environmental, natural resources and administrative law, and substantial litigation experience. Primary responsibilities include developing and implementing litigation to further Defenders’ conservation goals, supervising Defenders’ litigation program, managing staff attorneys, providing legal and strategic advice to Defenders senior staff, and serving as in-house counsel on conservation related legal and policy matters.



  • As a member of the senior leadership team, actively engage in the development and implementation of Defenders-wide strategies in support of the broader organizational culture.
  • Manage the development and implementation of Defenders’ litigation program
  • Supervise staff attorneys, review legal pleadings and briefs, provide advice on legal strategy
  • Manage, hire, evaluate and promote the professional development of Conservation Law staff
  • Serve as in-house counsel to Defenders’ staff on conservation related legal and policy matters
  • Serve as primary liaison with Litigation Committee of the Board of Directors
  • Actively participate in the development and advancement of Defenders' wildlife and natural resources conservation policies
  • Maintain effective working relationships with key government agency administrators, congressional staff, and other conservation organizations
  • Develop and oversee legal budget
  • Perform all other work-related duties as assigned



Education: Juris Doctor degree with bar membership in at least one state

Experience: 15 years of experience in federal natural resource/environmental law and litigation; 7+ years management/supervisory

An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed above.


Knowledge, Skils, Abilities for all Defenders


Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for Executive 1



  1. Ability to accurately maintain electronic and physical records
  2. Anticipate and meet the needs of internal and/or external stakeholders delivering excellent service


  1. Ability to clearly and accurately communicate with internal and external stakeholders
  2. Ability to articulate complex ideas clearly, accurately and concisely
  3. Ability to convey effective messages to broad and diverse constituencies
  4. Ability and willingness to effectively represent Defenders’ interests in external environments
  5. Ability to exert influence and build consensus with internal and external stakeholders

Critical Thinking

  1. Ability to handle sensitive and confidential matters with discretion
  2. 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
  3. Creative problem-solving and troubleshooting skills with willingness to experiment and innovate new methods.
  4. Facilitate and promote the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into Defenders’ work
  5. Ability to independently exercise appropriate judgment in response to complex and/or fluid environments
  6. 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

  1. Ability to work well under pressure and tight deadlines while balancing competing assignments
  2. Ability to remain flexible and adaptable to shifting priorities while remaining responsive to urgent requests
  3. Ability to take ownership of a project or process and to use problem solving skills to resolve issues
  4. Ability to manage deadlines on multiple cross-functional projects in a dynamic environment
  5. Demonstrated ability in managing competing interests on complex issues
  6. Ability to independently initiate project and initiative ideas; managing projects and initiatives through to completion
  7. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Ability to lead diverse stakeholders in collaborative activities, to anticipate issues impacting Defenders’ mission and make recommendations within Defenders, other organizations, and coalitions.
  3. Networking skills to engage with leaders in the conservation community, federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other organizations.

Conservation Knowledge

  1. Expert-level knowledge of Defenders’ legal, scientific, and/or political issues
  2. Expert-level knowledge of national and regional social, political, and ecological landscapes

Leadership and Management

  1. Ability to foster a team and organizational culture which models the tenets of the Commitment Statement
  2. Ability to connect employees and their work to Defenders’ mission
  3. Ability to set and maintain clear expectations, ensuring clarity of roles, accountabilities, and responsibilities
  4. Ability to ensure that staff have the skills and support required to perform at the highest level
  5. Expert-level knowledge of Defenders’ business and people systems and processes
  6. Ability to create and maintain a diverse, inclusive, and high-functioning environment
  7. Ability to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in department and organizational-level decisions
  8. Ability to manage employee conflict and resolve escalations in an inclusive and healthy manner
  9. Ability to effectively lead and manage change
  10. Ability to develop mid-level leaders and staff to their highest capabilities, through delegation, coaching, empowerment, and professional growth opportunities
  11. Ability to provide effective feedback in real-time
  12. Ability to create and implement team and organization-wide strategies in support of Defenders’ Strategic Plan

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for V.P., Conservation Law

  • Extensive knowledge of federal natural resource and environmental law
  • Extensive litigation experience, particularly in the federal courts
  • Experience managing attorneys
  • Experience managing a litigation docket
  • Ability to develop litigation, advocacy and policy strategies
  • Commitment to public interest law

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 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.

It is the policy of Defenders of Wildlife to provide 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 non union-eligible.

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