WPLC is Hiring! Staff Attorney

Staff Attorney Vacancy


This job vacancy is for full-time work, onsite, in Mandan, ND, with Water Protector Legal Collective.

This is a unique opportunity for a prospective movement lawyer to obtain extensive criminal defense and movement legal support training and mentorship. Recent law grads are welcome to apply, and WPLC is willing to support the right candidate through writing the bar in North Dakota and possibly elsewhere as needed. Extensive training and mentorship opportunities will be provided, working alongside some of the most dedicated and experienced movement lawyers in the country.

The Staff Attorney will play a key role in WPLC’s ongoing efforts to defend Water Protectors with state criminal charges in North Dakota, and engage in new legal work to support the broader Indigenous-led movement to protect the earth and efforts to expand and advance Indigenous sovereignty and rights that was inspired by the historic gathering of Indigenous nations that occurred at Standing Rock.

As an integral member of the WPLC staff team, the Staff Attorney works closely and collaboratively with WPLC legal, development and communications staff, Water Protectors, volunteers and movement legal workers and attorneys to advance WPLC’s work and the objectives arising from the Standing Rock protest movement. This is an opportunity to play a leadership role within WPLC at this critical juncture when the organization is beginning to shape its work beyond Standing Rock.

Responsibilities include:

  • Administration of the Pro Hac Vice Program, which brings out-of-state volunteer attorneys to provide zealous advocacy for Water Protectors wherever WPLC is working.

  • With the support of experienced defense lawyers, the Staff Attorney will provide direct representation of Water Protectors and activists with criminal charges.

  • Criminal defense coordination for mass arrest events, including: facilitating attorney-client contact, communication among attorneys, legal research, drafting and filing motions, and procurement of transcripts, discovery, and pleadings.

  • Provide training and support for legal worker staff and consultants as necessary.

  • Develop and implement client-centered mass defense strategies in conjunction with other attorneys as well as Water Protectors, and coordinate implementation of those strategies for communities that WPLC is providing legal support for.

  • Law office management responsibilities include participating in staff meetings, facilitating decision-making among legal staff, maintaining accurate case files, monitoring the status of cases, and implementing and utilizing appropriate technological tools and protocols that ensure the office remains in compliance with the ethical rules governing client confidentiality.

  • Work with communications and development staff to increase awareness of WPLC, developments and outcomes of legal cases, advancement of legal, civil, indigenous and inherent rights, and the continued efforts at Standing Rock and elsewhere to defend the earth and advance Indigenous sovereignty.

  • Other duties as assigned or as needed.

  • This is a full-time, exempt, staff position currently based in Mandan, North Dakota. Some travel will be required.

  • A firm desire to practice criminal defense and a long-term commitment to investing in learning and developing your skills as a movement lawyer.

  • A law degree (JD) from an ABA accredited law school is required.

  • An ability and willingness to become licensed to practice law in North Dakota, even if that requires writing the bar exam. (This can happen after being hired if necessary.)

  • Direct experience living and/or working in Indigenous communities is required.

  • Experience participating in and/or working in support of progressive social movements is strongly preferred.

  • This position is open to applications from recent law grads with a commitment to movement legal support and a strong desire to practice criminal defense, and is also open to experienced, licensed attorneys who are committed to movement legal support and are willing to accept a junior position in order to train to become a movement criminal defense attorney.

  • Must be able to work collectively and collaboratively with a diverse staff, volunteers and community members.

  • Superior organizational, time management, and communication skills in a movement oriented work environment.

  • Demonstrated commitment to the aims of Indigenous-led movements to protect the earth and advancing Indigenous sovereignty is required and applicants must not have ties to law enforcement or the oil and gas industry.


Please review our website to familiarize yourself with our work before applying.

Qualified and eligible candidates may submit a resume, cover letter, writing sample, and contact information for three references. Please include a description of what motivates you to want to work with WPLC and indicate what bar admissions you hold, if any.

Please submit application materials by email to defense@waterprotectorlegal.org

This position is available immediately and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. The position is open until the post is removed from our website, here: https://waterprotectorlegal.org/contact-us/employment-opportunities/

Interviews for qualified candidates will continue until the position is filled.