Legal Advocate, Civil Defense Practice

Job Type

Full Time


Details: Depends upon experience



Start Date


Application Deadline



317 Lenox Avenue, 10th Floor
New York
United States


The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS) is a community-based, client-centered, holistic public defense office located in Harlem, providing criminal, civil, and family representation. NDS Clients are represented by multidisciplinary teams including attorneys, advocates and social workers. NDS is now accepting applications for a Legal Advocate for the Civil Defense Practice.


The Civil Defense Practice plays an integral role in NDS’s fulfillment of its holistic mission. Our practice, consisting of immigration and civil practitioners, seeks to address the harsh collateral consequences that stem from interaction with the criminal justice and child welfare system.

The civil practitioners seek to prevent the unjust loss of housing, employment and benefits that our clients and their family members face as the result of a criminal case. This mission is rooted in an understanding that stability minimizes the devastating impact an arrest or conviction can have on the lives of our clients and their families.


·        Demonstrate energy, enthusiasm and ingenuity in working on challenging cases;

  • Maintain and manage own caseload of administrative hearings including: public benefits, public housing, school suspension and employment licensure.
  • Assess client eligibility for public benefits and shelter, guide clients through the application process, and resolve any barriers to receiving these benefits (including informal advocacy and formal representation at fair hearings).
  • Assist clients in repairing criminal record errors and obtaining certificates of rehabilitation.
  • Navigating the NYPD property release structure, including resolving civil forfeiture matters.
  • Conduct intake interviews of prospective clients in person and by phone.


Desired Capabilities and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • A demonstrated commitment to social justice issues and experience working with individuals of diverse backgrounds.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills, including the ability to manage a diverse caseload.
  • Must be able to travel throughout New York City to the various courts, administrative agencies and to client appointments.
  • Must be able to work cooperatively with attorneys and other NDS advocates, and problem-solve independently.
  • Fluency in Spanish is strongly preferred.



Neighborhood Defender Service, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Compensation is commensurate with experience. Full medical and dental benefits, as well as other benefits, are provided.

Level of Language Proficiency

Fluency in Spanish is strongly preferred

Professional Level

Entry level

Minimum Education Required

4-year degree

How To Apply

Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume as one PDF with the subject line, “Legal Advocate, Civil Defense Practice” to: We are looking to fill this position immediately. For more information about NDS, please visit our website at