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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Reference No: 4/2022

The closing date (15 July 2022) has passed and applications for this position are now closed.

The Centre for Environmental Rights is looking for a lawyer to join our Pollution and Climate Change Programme. Based in Cape Town or Johannesburg, this position is for an admitted attorney or advocate with 3 – 5 years’ litigation and legal advocacy experience post qualification, and who has a passion for environmental justice and working for the right to a healthy and protected environment to be realised. The successful candidate will have a particular interest in human rights and advocating for climate and environmental justice; effective environmental laws and improved implementation of laws; appearing and litigating on behalf of affected communities, affected individuals, and civil society organisations; and facilitating networking among relevant stakeholders and supporting activists.

CER is committed to diversity, inclusion and transformation and strives to reflect South Africa’s racial, cultural, sex and gender diversity within its staff complement. Candidates from historically disadvantaged or marginalised groups are strongly encouraged to apply for this post, and will be preferred.


Cape Town or Johannesburg

Qualifications, skills and experience

  • An LLB or equivalent qualification. An LLM, particularly in environmental law, would be an advantage.
  • Admission as attorney or advocate of the High Court of South Africa, and  3 – 5 years’ post-qualification experience in High Court litigation, particularly Constitutional and administrative law (experience in environmental litigation will be an advantage).
  • Experience in the field of energy, public health, and/or climate change law and policy would be an advantage.
  • A sound knowledge of environmental laws and excellent legal research skills.
  • A sound understanding of legal and procedural requirements for environmental decision-making and legal challenges.
  • Excellent writing skills with a perfectionist’s eye for detail.
  • A sensitivity to social issues and the experiences and needs of marginalised communities.
  • Excellent networking skills, and strong capabilities in building support amongst a wide range of stakeholders.
  • A commitment to high-quality client service.
  • A passion for social and environmental justice.
  • A commitment to diversity, inclusion, and transformation.

Key responsibilities

Key responsibilities of this position currently include the following (although we require flexibility from all our staff as our strategic imperatives change and develop over time):

  • Strategic litigation: Providing legal advice to and undertaking litigation for communities and civil society organisations in line with CER’s litigation strategy and priorities;
  • Legal advocacy: Advocacy and engagement with regulators, corporates, and other stakeholders that impact corporate accountability, in order to achieve strategic change and improved practice; providing expert input into draft environmental, social, governance and related policies and legislation, and making submissions in Parliament and in other key forums;
  • Strategic communications: Building the profile of the CER and its programmes by participating in communications plans, which include writing editorials and media releases, and giving media interviews;
  • Human resources: Mentoring, training, and overseeing the work of junior attorneys and candidate attorneys, and providing oversight support and assistance to the Programme Head in respect of the programme work and strategic plan;
  • Networking and empowerment: Building, training, and supporting networks of partners and clients, including affected communities and community organisations.


The salary range for the position is between R513 737 and R644 129 (total cost to company). The salary offered will be dependent on factors that include the qualifications, level of expertise, and experience of the successful candidate. All new staff join our medical aid group scheme with Discovery Health, and the salary package includes a medical aid subsidy. Leave benefits include our 15 working days’ end-of-year break from 17 December every year – which is over and above annual leave; and long leave in the form of a period of 20 working days’ leave every 5 years.

Working for the CER

The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit organisation and law clinic of activist lawyers who work with communities and civil society organisations in South Africa to realise our Constitutional right to a healthy environment by advocating and litigating for environmental justice. We seek a just, equitable, compassionate society which is resilient, celebrates diversity, and respects the inter-dependence between people and the environment.

As South Africa’s largest public interest environmental law organisation, we use our expertise and commitment to fight for environmental justice and advance the right to a healthy environment for all. We take on the big environmental battles: cases in which we can empower local communities, have an enduring impact, set powerful precedents for other cases, and help improve policy and practice across the country.

Winning the legal case is only part of the battle. CER’s litigation work is strengthened by local training and empowerment, dedicated policy and advocacy work, and strategic communications. In all of our work, we work closely with partners in affected communities, with other civil society

organisations in the environmental and social justice sector, and with other public interest law organisations.

We work across the following core themes: Mining, Water, Pollution and Climate Change, Corporate Accountability & Transparency, and Activist Support & Training. We have our main office in Observatory, Cape Town, with a smaller office in Forest Town, Johannesburg.

At CER, we value our staff and regard their wellbeing as a priority. We are committed to a work environment that is inclusive and empathetic, and in which diversity is celebrated and supported.

How to apply

Please send the following documents to: [email protected] by 15 July 2022, with the email subject line: “CER Attorney Position Application”:

  • A cover letter setting out your skills and relevant experience, as well as why you want to work at the CER;
  • A copy of your CV;
  • Two recent written references.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.