Social Worker, Civil Defense Practice

Job Type

Full Time


Details: Depends on 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 Social Worker 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.

Our immigration practice consists of consultation services, advice and legal representation in immigration proceedings to NDS clients who are non-citizens, and to immigrant communities throughout Northern Manhattan. For a significant percentage of our clients, a prior criminal conviction or an ongoing criminal case often results in a serious risk of immigration detention and/or deportation.

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.


The social worker will be part of an interdisciplinary team, including attorneys and other non-attorney advocates, to determine case strategies for clients. Additionally, the social worker will:

·        Demonstrate energy, enthusiasm and ingenuity in working on challenging cases with court-involved clients experiencing an array of mental health needs;

·        Conduct client interviews to assess social service needs, competency, crisis intervention and/or short term counseling;  

·        Work closely with team members to submit written advocacy and assessments to court for mitigation purposes as necessitated by case needs;

·        Gather information to contribute to mitigation through conducting client interviews and obtaining and analyzing records;

·        Work Closely with clients to identify and secure placement of clients in programs to address problems such as mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, educational and vocational training needs;

·        Communicate effectively with clients, their families, and agency case workers; and

·        Develop service plans for clients and provide crisis intervention management.

·        Conduct home visits when necessitated by client’s needs; and

·        At times, appear with attorneys and advocates to advocate on behalf of clients in Immigration and Housing Court and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) administration proceedings.



NDS is looking for a social worker with a demonstrated commitment to civil and immigration defense and social justice issues. In addition, the job requires energy, enthusiasm, a commitment to excellence and an unwavering commitment to clients. Applicants:

·        Should demonstrate a desired commitment to indigent defense and social justice issues;

·        Have a Master's Degree in Social Work;

·        Be licensed or willing and eligible to become licensed within 6 months of employment;

·        Have experience and interest in working with clients who have a wide range of mental health needs and/or cognitive abilities’

·        Possess strong organizational skills in order to navigate a fast-paced environment;

·        Be comfortable in a court environment;

·        Possession of a driver’s license highly encouraged;

·        Spanish language fluency is required.

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


Full medical and dental benefits, as well as other benefits, are provided.

Level of Language Proficiency

Fluency in a Spanish required.

Professional Level

Entry level

Minimum Education Required

Master's degree

How To Apply

Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume as one PDF with the subject line, “Social Worker, Civil Defense Practice” to: We are looking to fill this position immediately.