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Senior Program Associate, NQRP

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Vera Institute of Justice | Industry City, Brooklyn, NY
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Vera Institute of Justice

Published 8 days ago

Do you:

  • Want to be a leader in realizing the promise of Gideon – zealous, universal representation for all people, no matter what – into the new and challenging terrain of immigration court?
  • Believe that zealous, independent, uncompromising defense for all people must be the non-negotiable foundation of every defense counsel system?
  • Feel compelled to act knowing that people with serious mental health conditions – across the mental health, criminal, and immigration systems, and particularly where detained and where mental health intersects with race – are at real risk of unlawful deprivation of fundamental rights?
  • Recognize the necessity of centering a race equity lens in all social justice work, from daily operations to strategic thinking?
  • Have a commitment to the de-stigmatization of mental health conditions and treatment and to person-centered, collaborative models of practice?
  • Have a special skill in, affinity for, and dedication to teaching and mentoring other lawyers – especially newer lawyers practicing in difficult circumstances – on how to provide zealous representation, even when the going gets tough?


If so, the NQRP wants to hear from you. Read on!


Who We Are

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, envisions a society that respects the dignity of every person and safeguards justice for everyone.

  • We study problems that impede human dignity and justice.
  • We pilot solutions that are at once transformative and achievable.
  • We engage diverse communities in informed debate.
  • We harness the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice.


Vera works with others who share our vision to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day—from mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence. Vera has offices in Brooklyn, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans and people working in communities across the country. Vera is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace—specifically, we value diverse experiences with regards to educational background and justice system contact. We hire employees that reflect our values: racial equity, respect, independence, collaboration, and commitment.



National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP)

The mission of the NQRP is to provide zealous appointed defense counsel  to a specific and particularly vulnerable population: people who are in immigration detention, who are otherwise without counsel, and who have serious mental health conditions. Nationwide in scope, the NQRP partners with a growing network of over 40 multi-disciplinary teams of holistic legal defense providers. The NQRP sits at the intersection of immigration, mental health, and criminal law and offers fast-paced, collaborative, and creative work at the cutting edge of national efforts to bring zealous legal defense to all people in immigration proceedings.


Center on Immigration and Justice (CIJ)

Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice believes in the principle of zealous, universal representation: that all people, no matter their circumstances or past, when faced with detention and deportation – and the potential loss of family, freedom, and even life – must have an independent, effective, and zealous lawyer fighting for them at every step of the way.


What You Will Do

The Senior Program Associate will ensure that every NQRP provider has the training, mentorship, support, knowledge, and skills necessary to provide zealous representation in every case. The Senior Program Associate will, with the support of the entire NQRP team, take the lead on and carry out the following example duties:

  • Create and Deliver Substantive Trainings:
  • Perform ongoing training needs assessments among program providers
  • Create and deliver substantive monthly legal trainings (usually remotely)
  • Leverage experienced program providers to ‘peer teach’ newer program providers
  • Provide Direct Technical Support and Mentorship:
  • Provide responses to NQRP listserv legal / practice questions on a daily basis
  • Author and disseminate “practice guides” on recurrent NQRP legal or practice questions
  • Publish a monthly newsletter that highlights a substantive legal or practice issue
  • Perform Enhanced Site Visits:
  • Visit program sites in priority areas across the country
  • Conduct site-specific training and technical support needs assessments
  • Create and deliver several region-specific, substantive in-person trainings per year
  • Curate and Manage Training and Technical Support Systems and Resources:
  • Assess and strengthen NQRP training and technical support systems and resources
  • Provide ongoing curation of those systems and resources
  • Improve Use of Technology for Training:
  • Working with Vera IT and considering the preferences of program providers, assess and strengthen existing training and technical support technology platforms
  • Provide Related Program Management:
  • Review and resolve, on a daily or near-daily basis, certain program funding requests for experts, post-conviction relief, litigation, and related matters
  • Assess and strengthen data collection, management, and analysis systems related to training and technical support
  • Nurture a Culture of Zealous Representation:
  • Help grow and maintain a culture of zealous representation in every case
  • Center race and other intersectional equity into the culture of zealous representation
  • Identify and create resources to address specific areas or issues that tend to make zealous representation more difficult – e.g., implicit bias and mental health stigma
  • Emphasize person-centered, collaborative relationship as a key component of providing zealous representation to people with mental health conditions


Other duties related to management of the NQRP will be assigned as needed.


Who You Are

To be successful in this job ….

  • A JD degree and current bar license;
  • 3 or more years of experience defending detained people in removal proceedings, criminal defense proceedings, or a comparable adversarial litigation setting;
  • An understanding of the special role of defense counsel within the adversarial system;
  • Demonstrated aptitude and interest in legal training and mentorship, particularly for newer attorneys and / or defense attorneys practicing in detained and other difficult settings, and via current video and other remote training technology platforms;
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out more complex tasks – such as planning and executing a training for a specific region for multiple program providers – with significant self-direction and without frequent supervision;
  • An uncompromising commitment to immigrants’ rights, zealous representation in immigration court for all people, the rights of people with mental health conditions, and race equity;
  • The ability to listen with patience and empathy; to accept and apply constructive feedback; to work collaboratively and collegially with co-workers; and a sense of humor;
  • The ability to work with both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, and to adjust approach, register, and tone appropriately;
  • Strong writing skills, with the ability to quickly produce quality writing;
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint;
  • Willingness to travel frequently and a current driver’s license.


Ideal candidates will possess one or more of these additional qualifications:

  • Lived or affiliated experience with the immigration, criminal justice, and / or mental health system(s) is a strong plus.
  • Experience representing clients with mental or developmental disabilities.
  • Additional education or work experience in a mental health field or setting.
  • Knowledge of mental health and / or criminal law and concepts.


The Nitty – Gritty

  • This is a full-time position based in Los Angeles, California (preferred), or Brooklyn, New York.
  • Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience.


How to Apply

Please submit a cover letter, writing sample, and resume. The cover letter should outline the minimum and additional qualifications possessed by the candidate and address how the candidate will use those qualifications to excel at the position’s responsibilities. The writing sample should be no more than 15 pages.


Prospective candidates submitting generic, form, template, or machine-generated cover letters will be summarily rejected without further review.


Candidates will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Online submission of materials in PDF format is preferred.


If necessary, materials may be mailed or faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / CIJ Senior Program Associate Recruitment

Vera Institute of Justice

34 35th Street, Suite 4-2A,

Brooklyn, NY 11232

Fax: (212) 941-9407


Please use only one method (online, mail or fax) of submission. No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted. 


Vera is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status.


Vera works to advance justice, particularly racial justice, in an increasingly multicultural country and globally connected world. We value diverse experiences, including regarding educational background and justice system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.


For more information about Vera and CIJ’s work, please visit

Do you:

  • Want to be a leader in realizing the promise of Gideon – zealous, universal representation for all people, no matter what – into the new and challenging terrain of immigration court?
  • Believe that zealous, independent, uncompromising…

Details at a glance

  • On-site Location
  • Full Time Schedule


Race, Equity, and Inclusion

We are taking the steps necessary to become an antiracist institution. This means we are committed to dismantling racism both within our institution and the wider community and to transforming our professional relationships and activities to align with this vision. Through our Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative, we offer trainings to build organizational capacity and create formal and informal channels for discussion. We have created a Racial Equity Action Plan that spells out some of our key goals and commitments.

Professional Development

As part of our commitment to staff, Vera is proud to offer unique opportunities for professional development.

Learning/Sharing Incentives: Vera supports staff learning and sharing in many forms, including:

  • Publication incentive awards. To recognize the amount of work and time that goes into writing mission- or strategy-connected articles, self-published multimedia projects, and conference-related publications, Vera rewards staff with $1,000.
  • Conference support. To aid both idea and professional development, Vera pays for staff to attend relevant conferences, including registration fees and travel. The only requirement attached to this support is that the Veran report back what they learn to interested colleagues.
  • Peer-to-peer capacity building. This fund supports time and travel for staff to learn from each other, fostering a culture of constant personal and interpersonal development. For example, the fund might help a staff member observe a peer facilitate a meeting with people who work at a prison or immigrant detention center, meet with a coworker to learn how they successfully broadcasted Vera events, or assist another team with hands-on data collection.

Idea Pipeline investments: Any Veran may apply for more significant internal funding to pilot a project that has the potential to become an important new area of work for Vera. The idea pipeline is part of our journey to be more equitable internally by providing a broader range of staff with a path to design new work that will impact the justice field.


Vera encourages opportunities during and after work to strengthen bonds and create meaningful relationships. We host a monthly staff breakfast, sponsor coffee meet-ups, organize brown bag learning opportunities and, twice a year, we convene all staff for a series of workshops and fun.

Race, Equity, and Inclusion

We are taking the steps necessary to become an antiracist institution. This means we are committed to dismantling racism both within our institution…


Industry City, Brooklyn, NY

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