Social Worker- Travis County Public Defender's Office

Published 19 days ago


The Travis County Public Defender's Office (PDO) is a comprehensive public defender office envisioned to be client-centered, independent, and innovative to the needs of Travis County residents. Consistent with nationally recognized best practices, the PDO provides high-quality holistic defense representation and other support to people accused of criminal offenses in Travis County.

Social Workers in the PDO advocate for clients inside and outside of the courtroom. A key member of the legal team, social workers use their training to develop relevant personal and environmental context from clients’ lived experiences to help guide the defense strategy. They often present their findings orally and in writing to judges, prosecutors and/or agency and program staff. They also support and counsel clients and their families as they navigate different legal and social service systems and develop individualized plans to connect clients to long or short-term community-based resources to meet identified social support needs.

Distinguishing Characteristics:

This is a job classification within the Social Services job family. This classification is distinguished from other social services classes due to the social work functions and services provided to clients. This classification performs case management, psychosocial and/or needs assessments, develops client service plans and accesses community resources to assist clients. This classification may require a flexible work schedule in order to meet the needs of the department.


  • Conducts client and/or family psychosocial and/or needs assessment. Often presents findings in writing and/or orally to judges, prosecutors and/or agency and program staff.
  • Develops and implements individualized plans to connect clients to long or short-term community-based resources to meet identified social support needs and monitors progress. Conducts periodic and final assessments to determine progress, client barriers, follow-up needs and client outcomes.
  • Provides brief counseling and crisis intervention to individuals and/or their families to resolve crisis, prevent future crisis and promote progress toward individualized goals and outcomes.
  • Provides short or long-term case management and service coordination in manners and settings conducive to best client outcomes. Utilizes community resources to assist client, including, but not limited to, medical resources, local, state and federal agencies, community-based agencies and other resources.
  • Participates in community collaboration for resource development and elimination of duplication of services. Serves as member of community groups advocating for client populations and needs.
  • Maintains current knowledge about resource availability, service costs and budgetary parameters and remains fiscally responsible in carrying out all case management functions and activities.
  • Uses evidence based practices and remains current with standards of profession.
  • Writes informational reports and compiles data/information in accordance with professional standards and policies.
  • Participates and coordinates in case reviews involving client/family and other service providers.
  • Performs other job-related duties as assigned.



Education and Experience:

Master’s degree in Social Work AND two (2) years social work experience counseling individuals in crisis/trauma situations.

Licenses, Registrations, Certifications, or Special Requirements:

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW).

Valid Texas Driver’s License.

Please attach resume to online application.


  • Applications with a cover letter detailing interest in the position, including why you want to work for the Travis County Public Defender’s Office.
  • Ability to interview indigent clients to assess their legal and social support needs.
  • Ability to conduct fact investigations related to indigent clients’ familial, social support, medical, and/or legal histories.
  • Ability to fluently speak and write in Spanish.
  • Mission-aligned experience (work or lived) advocating on behalf of or supporting people/communities directly impacted by the criminal/immigration/indigent civil legal system.

Knowledge of:

  • Theoretical constructs of human development and social work theory and practices.
  • Policies, practices, procedures and terminology of assigned function.
  • Local social services, organizations and programs and the resources available.
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Crisis intervention and counseling techniques.
  • Psychosocial factors impacted by stressors, illness and disability and intervention techniques.
  • Federal, State and Local program laws and requirements.
  • Financial resources available to clients.
  • Modern office practices, procedures and methods.
  • Computer equipment to include word processing, spreadsheets, databases and a variety of software packages.
  • May be required to develop knowledge of and adhere to federal and state laws requiring the confidential handling of certain health information.

Skill in:

  • Interviewing and obtaining information from clients and other sources.
  • Problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Counseling and providing crisis and other assistance to clients experiencing grief, trauma, and/or other adverse life experiences.
  • Assessing the medical, psychosocial, and environmental status of clients.
  • Determining types of counseling, social service provider and other services indicated for clients.
  • Referring clients to appropriate social services organizations and programs.
  • Application of casework principles.
  • Both verbal and written communication.

Ability to:

  • Apply social work and counseling theory, practice, and procedures.
  • Work effectively and courteously under high-pressure circumstances.
  • Prepare persuasive, accurate and complete records and reports.
  • Demonstrate consistent, sound and mature judgment in the effective and efficient use of human and financial resources.
  • Work independently.
  • Manage time well and meet timelines.
  • Communicate effectively across lines of difference.



The PDO is committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in our work and staff. The PDO strongly encourages candidates of all identities, experiences, abilities and communities to apply. All applicants should be dedicated to working in and sustaining an environment that enables staff and clients to feel empowered, valued, respected, and safe. In considering applicants, the PDO values an applicant's experience and/or thoughtfulness in working with people from communities that experience marginalization.

Physical requirements include the ability to lift/carry up to 25 pounds occasionally, visual acuity, speech and hearing, hand and eye coordination and manual dexterity necessary to operate a computer and office equipment. Subject to standing, walking, sitting, repetitive motion, reaching, climbing stairs, bending, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, pushing, pulling, balancing, client/customer contact, squatting to perform the essential functions.

This job description is intended to be generic in nature. It is not necessarily an exhaustive list of all duties and responsibilities. The essential duties, functions and responsibilities and overtime eligibility may vary based on the specific tasks assigned to the position.

This position is partially funded through a multi-year grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. 

The position is anticipated to start no later than November 12, 2021.

Department: Public Defender’s Office

Location: 1010 Lavaca Street, 2nd floor, Austin, TX 78701

Post-Offer Criminal Background Check Required.


The Travis County Public Defender's Office (PDO) is a comprehensive public defender office envisioned to be client-centered, independent, and innovative to the needs of Travis County residents. Consistent with nationally…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule
  • Start Date
    November 12, 2021
  • Application Deadline
    October 8, 2021
  • Education
    Master's Degree Required
  • Professional Level


USD 55,806 - USD 60,663



Employment at Travis County comes with a full array of benefits. We offer comprehensive health insurance, a no-cost, on-site Health and Wellness clinic, longevity pay, paid vacations, sick time and personal holidays, not to mention an industry competitive salary structure and a friendly, stable work environment.

FY2021 Travis County Benefit Guide

In this valuable Travis County Benefits Guide you will find benefit summaries, eligibility requirements, costs, contact numbers and addresses as well as other general information on the benefits available to Travis County Employees and Retirees.

Credit Union

Employees may join the Travis County Credit Union which offers low-interest loans, savings plans through payroll deduction, safe deposit boxes and other benefits.

Deferred Compensation

Employees may enroll in a tax- free sheltered investment plan through payroll deduction.

Direct Deposit

Employees may sign up for direct bank deposit.

Employee Assistance Program

Travis County provides a confidential counseling and referral service free of charge to county employees and their family.

Employee Organizations

Membership in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Union is available through payroll deduction.

Employee Health & Wellness Clinic

Employees may access the clinic for a variety of wellness program and health care services with no co-pay, no deductible and no co-insurance costs.


An average of eleven paid holidays are designated by the Travis County Commissioners Court at the beginning of each fiscal year.


Longevity pay is paid for each year completed after three years of continuous service. Peace Officers in a law enforcement activity, whose job requires state peace officer certification, receive pay after one year of certification.


A limited number of assigned parking spaces are available to employees in the Courthouse Complex.

Personal Holidays

Full-time employees are eligible for up to three paid personal holidays each calendar year. Part-time employees shall be granted personal holidays on a prorated basis. New employees earn personal holidays for the calendar year in which he/she begins employment, based on the month in which employment begins:

January – March: 3 personal holidays

April - June: 2 personal holidays

July - September: 1 personal holiday

October - December: None

New employees are eligible to take personal holidays after 90 days of employment.


Travis County is a member of the Texas County & District Retirement System with mandatory participation by certain classes of employees. Seven percent (7%) of the gross salary is deducted each pay period. An employee is fully vested after eight years of service. Benefits are prorated for part-time employees.

Sick Leave

Employees earn sick leave at a rate of eight hours per month with unlimited accrual during employment. Part-time employees earn sick leave on a pro-rated basis.

Tuition Refund

Certain classes of full-time employees may receive reimbursement for fees associated with pre-approved, job related course work completed satisfactorily.


Based on years of county service, full-time employees earn vacation time at the following rates:

0 to 5 years: 4.0 hours per pay period

6 to 10 years: 4.5 hours per pay period

11 to 15 years: 5.0 hours per pay period

16 to 20 years: 5.5 hours per pay period

 21 plus years: 6.0 hours per pay period

Part-time employees earn vacation leave on a pro-rated basis.

Workers' Compensation

The county provides all employees workers' compensation coverage with benefits in accordance with state statute, if the employee sustains an injury out of, or in the course of work.


Employment at Travis County comes with a full array of benefits. We offer comprehensive health insurance, a no-cost, on-site Health and Wellness clinic, longevity pay…

Level of Language Proficiency

Ability to fluently speak and write in Spanish preferred.

Ability to fluently speak and write in Spanish preferred.


1010 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701, USA
2nd floor

How to Apply

Please attach resume to online application.

Please attach resume to online application.

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