Very flexible, you are in the field majority of the work week, so you can set your schedule according to your cases. Definitely a place I would recommend as a new graduate. Everyone is very welcoming and informed
Management aren't fond of paying their employees, appropriately, for the work they do.
I worked at Legal Assistance Foundation full-time
Some great co-workers, access to a lot of resources, great benefits package and union. You will definitely learn a lot about legal practice.
Very political, gossipy, and some social awkwardness. Management treats it like a firm without the financial compensation and not like collaborative and mission oriented public interest non-profit. Also, several older attorneys are behind the current social movement and rhetoric.
I have been working at Legal Assistance Foundation full-time (More than a year)
LAF does great work on behalf of the clients. Most advocates truly care. The offices are nice and centrally located. Great vacation and time off benefits for full time employees.
Low pay. Although people care about the work; management seems to less about each the people actually getting the work done. Working environment can be hostile and unwieldy. The director over all practices is ineffective. People who are under-performers, rude or plain inappropriate are never held accountable.
Advice to Management
There is a mass exodus happening. People are resigning left and right. When a new director comes in, s/he should bring their own management team to totally restructure and reorganize this agency so it can remain viable over the long term.
great mission, nice office space, located downtown, some people are passionate advocates
detached leadership, don't provide a clear vision for organization
Working for social justice is great
Working conditions are very poor.
-Great for an entry level position and anyone who is seeking experience in the law field
-Supportive environment and supportive management
-Traditional 9-5 work schedule
-Union protection after 1 year
-Generous fringe benefits
-Little opportunities to diversify work experience while employed
I have been working at Legal Assistance Foundation full-time
LAF does very important, good work, and they provide an opportunity to gain real substantive experience, particularly through their many VISTA, intern, and fellowship positions.
Very unfriendly, cold work environment and the organization is extremely hierarchical. In addition, they have a pretty paternalistic attitude towards clients. Low pay.
Advice to Management
Your employees' happiness and well-being matters - you need to work to create a better work environment if you want to have better results and less resentment. And try to see things from the clients' perspective sometimes. If you're totally out of touch with their real needs and experiences, then you can't serve them.
Having a passion for social justice makes working here rewarding, because you're in a community of very dedicated people. There are a lot of great people working at LAF - friendly, helpful, welcoming people - and in some ways they are the agency's best asset.
In the past few years a lot of great progress has been made at LAF formalizing the employee evaluation process, recognizing employee achievements, and demonstrating organizational appreciation for the work employees are doing. Depending on which department or practice group you work in, there can be lots of flexibility with hours and offsite working. Many women take maternity leaves at LAF for anywhere from 6 months to a full year. Health insurance and retirement benefits are pretty decent, with lots of options for medical care and a company match on retirement plans. Vacation and sick time are both above average.
While the mission is critical, and the work in and of itself can be challenging and rewarding, LAF is not without its problems, and they're not easy problems to overlook. The pay is paltry for everyone but the most senior leadership and the union members who have been around for 30+ years. Since everyone not in management is in the union, any raises or incentives must be bargained for collectively, so there are no opportunities to advance financially based on merit or performance. Union membership is a frustrating experience if you're not a case-handler, because the priorities in bargaining have always been those related to caseworker issues. On top of that, when the most recent round of layoffs happened, seniority in the bargaining unit protected low-performing longtime employees while putting high-performing newer employees' necks on the line. That was hard to endure, and it continues to be a frustrating experience at LAF for those who have to work even harder to compensate for their colleague's poor performance. It's a big reason people leave LAF.
If you're not an attorney at LAF, there is also very little internal support or opportunities for training, and even less in the budget to finance external opportunities for professional development. If you care about continued professional development, be prepared to find and finance your own opportunities.
LAF has historically had a problem filling management positions with people who are qualified to manage people or the work they're doing. This has played out over the years in decreased opportunities for the advancement of people internally who do have strong managerial skills and relevant experience to the work, as well as an ever-increasing frustration with the departments being managed by unqualified people. Don't come to LAF expecting to be made a manager or a leader - you're either too qualified or there is a long line of people in front of you waiting for the same opportunity.
Lastly, LAF operates with a 'mom and pop' mentality that isn't befitting of an agency of its size. Sometimes it borders on being downright unprofessional, and it can be an uncomfortable situation to find yourself in when you have no authority to make a better or more appropriate decision.
All of these factors have contributed over the years to LAF losing more than a few highly talented people - attorneys and non-attorneys alike - and an overall low sense of morale in the people who have remained.
I worked at Legal Assistance Foundation full-time (More than a year)
This a great organization where people are there because they genuinely want to do some good. You have to wear many hats because they are trying to do as much as they can with very little staff, so the scope of your experience is big - you will learn a lot.
As a non-profit company, everything is subject to whether or not they received the funding they needed; Salary is not great, and the budget you have to work with is not always great either.
I have been working at Legal Assistance Foundation full-time (More than 10 years)
Intelligent, passionate, creative, and dedicated attorneys who could so easily have chosen to make comfortable livings doing something else as your colleagues, friends, and family. People who have been dealt a bad hand in life, but continue to survive with a little help from you as your clients.
No support staff, long hours, little pay, and the stress will affect your health.
Advice to Management
Appreciate your employees for what they are: selfless individuals with a passion that drove them through school and continues to drive them in work. Support your staff by listening to their needs and addressing them. Don't make those who are killing themselves to make better lives for the less fortunate feel like they have to justify their continued place in your agency. Nourish them.
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