Senior Associate Executive Director and General Counsel

Position Summary

The American Bar Association is conducting a search for the position of Senior Associate Executive Director and General Counsel to join its executive leadership team. The American Bar Association is the nation’s largest voluntary bar association and is the umbrella organization for more than 3,500 entities, reflecting the breath of its reach and the diversity of its members’ interests. The resultingly complex organization is supported by a superb professional staff, headed by Executive Director Jack Rives.

The Senior Associate Executive Director and General Counsel, reporting directly to Jack Rives, will provide leadership in two distinct areas:

As General Counsel of the organization of America’s lawyers, responsibility for legal guidance and counsel to ABA senior staff and volunteer leadership

Key Responsibilities Include

  • Oversight and responsibility for the operation of the Association’s Office of General Counsel and its attorneys and paraprofessional staff
  • Providing legal guidance and counsel on business transactions and initiatives and ensuring that Association communications, contracts, documents, filings and press releases undergo legal review
  • Overseeing the provision of legal expertise, critical legal analysis, and policy guidance to local, state, federal, and international government agencies and organizations regarding the interpretation and implementation of the Association’s legal policies and initiatives.

As Senior Associate Executive Director, participating as a senior leader within the Association, acting in partnership with senior management and officers to develop strategic plans, policies, and programs of the Association.

Key Responsibilities Include

  • Oversight of the Legal Education Department which is responsible for the ABA’s law school accreditation process, including standards setting and review, law school accreditation and reaccreditation, and data collections and publication.
  • Providing primary staff support for assigned ABA entities
  • Additional duties as assigned by the Executive Director


Requirements for the position:

  • A JD from an ABA accredited law school and an active license in at least one state; a minimum of 10 years legal experience
  • Minimum of 5 years’ experience as an organizational manager; including leadership in establishing policies and developing strategies that have broad-based organization impact
  • Experience and skill with public speaking including presentations to governing bodies; evidence of strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Membership in the American Bar Association
  • Location in or relocation to the Chicago area 

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Required


  • A proven record of leadership, including the ability to develop and communicate clear goals
  • Extensive decision-making skills and the ability to organize and manage collective decision-making processes
  • An understanding of the importance of the ABA’s recognition of the value of and commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace

Communication Skills

Skills required:

  • Excellent communication capabilities, both written and verbal
  • Excellent listening abilities
  • Strong interpersonal and problem-solving record

The ability to:

  • Effectively represent and articulate the ABA’s mission and goals to internal and external audiences
  • Develop effective channels of communication and information distribution within areas of responsibility


Experience with:

  • Strategic, short- and long-range planning
  • Policy and program implementation
  •  Conflict management

The ability to:

  • Establish and maintain positive working relationships and teamwork, internally and externally.
  • Instill and demonstrate professional office procedures and practices; manage with and set an example of civility and decorum
  • Build productive, collaborative teams
  • Delegate responsibilities where appropriate and oversee those to whom responsibilities are delegated
  • Create, maintain and work with a diverse group of individuals and teams

Interaction with American Bar Association Volunteer Leadership

  • Possess the skills to work effectively and diplomatically with rotating volunteer leadership
  • Understand and maneuver effectively with the relative roles of the volunteer leadership and Association staff

Personal Attributes

  • The confidence to appreciate and encourage feedback and input from Association staff and volunteer leaders in furtherance of the Association’s mission and goals
  • Ability to effectively handle matters of a sensitive, confidential, and/or political nature

Legal Skills

The ability to:

  • Provide competent, informed and timely legal advice and counsel to senior Association management and volunteer leaders on a wide range of legal/policy issues
  • Develop and implement legal strategies and solutions, and to analyze, interpret and communicate perspectives effectively
  • Supervise and train Office of the General Counsel staff, including organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling work assignments
  •  Oversee and manage where appropriate the delegation of matters to outside counsel
  •  Acquire and maintain knowledge of institutional policies and procedures and general governance matters
  • Stay abreast of legal issues that could affect the ABA, its programs, mission and members, and communicate such issues to appropriate staff and volunteer leadership.

Indications of interest, inquiries, resumes and nominations should be emailed to Barbara Mendel Mayden, of Young Mayden LLC.

The American Bar Association is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Diverse candidates are encouraged to apply.