Executive Director – Federal Defenders of San Diego


Date Posted:  August 13, 2018
Date Closing:  September 3, 2018

About Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.

Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. (FDSDI), is the Community Defender Organization for the Southern District of California. Organized under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(g)(2)(B), our nonprofit firm – with offices in San Diego and El Centro, California – represents indigent persons accused of criminal offenses in federal court. We are independent from the local federal judiciary and funded by a sustaining grant awarded by Congress under the Criminal Justice Act.  A nine-member Board of Directors oversees the work of the organization.

FDSDI’S close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border has a strong influence on our caseload and our advocacy efforts; the majority of our clients are charged with immigration and drug-related offenses. The office also handles serious fraud, RICO, violent offenses and public corruption cases.

With an operating budget of $25 million, FDSDI employees more than 60 attorneys and 70 support personnel. We have aggressive and distinguished trial and appellate departments. Our attorneys are assisted by highly trained and dedicated investigators and have the benefit of in-house interpreter and bond departments.

Overview of the Position

The Executive Director is a highly-skilled federal criminal defense trial attorney who has held a leadership position within a public defense organization and is passionate about representing the indigent accused. As such, this executive has cooperated with and advocated for the interests of the defense community and the needs of his/her organization with various federal agencies, defender organizations, and the Courts. An effective leader, the Executive Director has a track record of collaborating with and leading senior managers, and a proven ability to motivate, support, and develop diverse staff at all levels of an organization. As a proven administrator, this executive is capable of ensuring the sound fiscal and operational management of a $25 million organization with 135 staff members. S/he is skilled at raising awareness of federal criminal defense work within the greater community and, in partnership with a Board, at stewarding the work of the organization into the future.

Among the Executive Director’s many duties, this leader is responsible for:

Strategic and Inspirational Leadership

 Serving as a mentor, role model and superb practitioner of federal criminal defense trial practice

  • Collaborating with the Board to develop innovative plans for advancing the work and mission
  • Maintaining consistent communication with the Board on critical budgetary, strategic, personnel and program issues
  • Collaborating with senior managers on the creation of policy, procedures, practices and strategies for furthering the work of the firm
  • Ensuring a high level of staff productivity and work product quality throughout the organization while fostering employee morale and cohesiveness
  • Inspiring, supervising, coaching, and evaluating experienced attorneys
  • Implementing policies and practices that foster a diverse and inclusive staff
  • Effectively representing FDSDI clients in all phases of

External Relations/Advocacy

  • Negotiating and advocating for the interest of the defense community administratively and substantively within the Southern District of
  • Advancing the interests of the federal criminal defense system at the national level through individual advocacy and by serving on working committees and advisory groups that inform policy and administrative matters.
  • Representing the organization through all manner of media relations and public speaking engagements at district conferences, meetings with the bench, public events,
  • Developing strategic relationships that assist FDSDI with contract talks and other business

Administrative Management 

  • Spearheading federal contract negotiations
  • Monitoring regulatory compliance and communicating compliance requirements effectively to others throughout FDSDI
  • Developing and monitoring budgets and financial plans in collaboration with appropriate personnel
  • Working closely with the Board of Directors to ensure FDSDI fiduciary and regulatory compliance responsibilities are fulfilled in a transparent and responsible manner
  • Handling high-level personnel issues including conflict resolution, disciplinary action and termination processes
  • Ensuring policies and procedures are in place to protect the organization Other duties as


  • Highly proficient in all manner of federal criminal defense practice
  • Member of the California Bar (or willingness to sit for the California exam)
  • Sophisticated knowledge of the federal criminal defense regulatory environment
  • Excellent communication and relationship building skills with an ability to prioritize, negotiate and work with a variety of internal and external stakeholders
  • High-level management experience within a public defender organization (specifically, contract negotiation, budgeting, )
  • Advocacy, public speaking and media relations skills
  • Prior experience supervising, coaching and mentoring a senior team and inspiring line staff
  • A commitment to lead by example, passion for federal criminal defense work, and dedication to the mission.

Salary: $164,200 Full benefits provided

Posting Expiration Date: September 3, 2018, 5:00 PM EST.

How to Apply:  Please submit a resume and cover letter to Search@patlibby.com

FDSDI is an equal opportunity employer committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity and inclusion in its work and with its staff.