JOB OPPORTUNITY: Senior Attorney, Lawyers for Human Rights Johannesburg Office

Date: 21/01/2022

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) seeks to appoint a Senior Attorney for its Environmental Rights Programme, based in Johannesburg.

LHR is part of the movement for social justice and undertakes strategic litigation and advocacy, as well as operates walk-in law clinics in three provinces, in order to provide high quality, inclusive legal services to marginalised communities and individuals who cannot afford private representation. LHR works closely with its strong networks of key stakeholders including, inter alia, civil society and community-based organisations, academic institutions, and Chapter Nine institutions.

The Senior Attorney will be an admitted attorney with several years of strategic legal and management experience, with a passion for business and human rights, corporate accountability, and environmental justice. Experience in working with and on behalf of communities affected by mining and other business is desired.

LHR’s Environmental Rights Programme (ERP) focuses on environmental justice for marginalised communities and individuals, as well the broader intersection of business and human rights. The programme seeks to promote and enforce the constitutional environmental right, ensure just distribution of environmental benefits, and contribute to improving corporate accountability through domestic litigation, community education, and domestic and international advocacy. The ERP places particular emphasis on countering the fundamental injustice that marginalised communities frequently face in the context of “development”: environmental degradation, negative socio-economic and gendered impacts, and limited ability to participate meaningfully in the decisions that affect their well-being.

Primary duties We require flexibility from our staff as our strategic priorities develop, and as we respond to pressing social justice issues as they arise. However, key responsibilities of this position will include:

  • Overseeing the execution of the ERP’s legal and advocacy deliverables;
  • Providing inclusive leadership to the programme’s junior staff, and supporting the development of and training of the programme’s junior attorneys and practitioners, in fulfilment of LHR’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity;
  • Leading the programme’s strategic litigation for communities and civil society organisations, with particular emphasis on the impacts of mining on hosting communities and climate justice, including from a gender perspective;
  • Leading the programme’s advocacy and engagement efforts, including community education, training, and outreach, provision of expert input into relevant draft legislation and policy, production of research products, and leading the team’s advocacy around instruments such as the proposed UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights;
  • Engaging with and representing LHR on relevant issues across a range of media, including in interviews and by writing thought pieces;
  • Monitoring expenditure against programme budget and aiding in liaising with programme donors and overseeing programme donor reports;
  • Staying abreast of and advising the National Director and senior management team on critical issues in the context of environmental justice and business and human rights, including contributing to Board reports and other strategic organisational documents; and
  • Adhering to LHR’s commitment to safeguard children and vulnerable persons encountered in its work and according to its organisational policy.

Key qualifications, skills, and experience:

  • An LLB or equivalent qualification. An LLM, particularly in human rights or environmental law, may be an advantage.
    Admission as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa, with at least 5 years’ post-qualification experience (experience in environmental litigation will be an advantage).
  • Some experience in management of a team, and demonstrated commitment to staff development.
  • Robust knowledge and understanding of: legal requirements for environmental decision-making and relevant legal challenges; environmental laws and regulation; and the various tools to ensure corporate accountability and respect by business for human rights.
  • Understanding of and experience working with a diverse range of clients, including mining affected communities, is preferred.
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills in English; fluency in another South African language will be an advantage.
  • Excellent legal research skills.
  • Some experience in donor engagement and reporting.
  • A demonstrated commitment to high-quality client service and a demonstrated passion for human rights, and environmental justice.
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and transformation.

LHR is committed to diversity and transformation. Candidates from historically disadvantaged or marginalised groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in applying, please submit a letter of motivation and a comprehensive CV by email to Michael Clements at, by close of business on 2 February 2022. The subject line should read: Senior Attorney in Environmental Rights Programme Application. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interviews thereafter.

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