Senior Staff Attorney – The Neighborhood Project

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION:

The Innocence Project works to free the innocent, prevent wrongful convictions, and create fair, compassionate, and equitable systems of justice for everyone. Founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the organization is now an independent nonprofit. Our work is guided by science and grounded in antiracism. Since our inception, the Innocence Project has used DNA and other scientific advancements to prove wrongful conviction. To date, we have helped to free or exonerate more than 200 people who, collectively, spent more than 3,600 years behind bars. Our efforts have led to the passage of more than 200 transformative state laws and federal reforms. Today, the Innocence Project continues to fight for freedom, drive structural change, and advance the innocence movement. To learn more, please visit www.innocenceproject.org.

ABOUT THE POSITION:

This is an exciting opportunity to lead a new area of multidisciplinary advocacy focused on racial justice, emerging technology, and mass misdemeanor arrests. The new Senior Staff Attorney in Strategic Litigation will lead the “Neighborhood Project,” which will be based in a community experiencing high levels of segregation, biased policing, surveillance, and arbitrary stops and arrests. This groundbreaking project consists of several, interdependent prongs. The first goal is to work with community members to document the costs of such policing—both in terms of the “hard” costs as well as costs associated with collateral consequences, loss of privacy in biometric data, fear of police, and intrusion on First and Fourth Amendment rights in targeted communities. These data will be used to create a published report that includes the resources invested in community social services, and will be compared to a similarly situated,
middle-income neighborhood to highlight gross disparities. The published report will serve as the foundation to advocate for reforms consistent with the Innocence Project’s national forensic policy agenda at the local level. To the extent that policy reforms are sought, this will be done in collaboration with the Innocence Project’s Policy Department. In addition to working with community partners, the new Senior Staff Attorney will collaborate with the local public defender organization to augment the community-based participatory research and to litigate individual misdemeanor cases that raise issues of surveillance technology, wrongful misdemeanor arrests, and other forms of discriminatory policing. The position also requires partnering with community members and Innocence Project clients to contribute research and center their experiences to challenge structural racial inequities, illustrate the costs of policing strategies in
their communities and, potentially, to act as plaintiffs in civil litigation aimed at shrinking the criminal legal
system’s footprint.

The Senior Staff Attorney reports to the Director of Strategic Litigation and works in collaboration with other members of the Strategic Litigation team, the Data Science & Research department, Policy experts, and forensic-science-focused staff across departments in our New York office, and will co-supervise a paralegal, interns and pro bono counsel.

All Innocence Project employees must embrace, respect, and value the rich diversity of perspectives and experience of a diverse and heterogeneous staff. We recognize and appreciate that our work is better for having varied participants and thought partners.

We are interested in every qualified candidate who is eligible to work in the United States. However, we are not able to sponsor visas.

While the Innocence Project has supported remote work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently committed to a hybrid workplace with mandatory two days per week in-office. All staff are currently provided a private workspace with a closed-door for the time being.

ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS:

The senior staff attorney engages in all aspects of litigation and advocacy, which include:

  • Pre-trial, trial and appellate litigation of criminal cases, including drafting memoranda, affidavits and briefs, as well as consultation on potential civil litigation.
  • Conducting legal research and analysis.
  • Collaborating in social science research, especially participatory action research
  • Evaluating social science research and incorporating such research into legal arguments and arguments for policy reform.
  • Researching prospects for new litigation, including both factual and legal claims.
  • Assisting with the development of community-based advocacy strategies.
  • Preparing reports, training and advocacy materials.
  • Conducting trainings and making presentations in widely varying forums.
  • Providing support and assistance to community members, clients facing misdemeanor charges, public defenders and cooperating attorneys.

THE IDEAL CANDIDATE:

The ideal candidate has a deep understanding of the contemporary criminal legal system, experience litigating at the trial and appellate level, an understanding of “broken windows” policing, and comfort with collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders, including community members, grass roots organizations, public defenders, scientists, and policy makers. Experience with digital technology is a plus, but not required. The ideal candidate must also be skilled at project management, have experience working with expert consultants, and has demonstrated experience with multiple competing demands.

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE:

  • 10+ years of litigation experience (exceptional candidates with fewer years of experience will be considered but will have a “Staff Attorney” title).
  • Demonstrated courtroom experience, preferably public defense.
  • Exhibited cultural competency with regard to legal practice.
  • Prior experience collaborating with community-based organizations.
  • Experience with multidisciplinary advocacy.
  • Preferred qualifications: experience in digital forensics, background in coalition-building and conducting empirical research.
  • Must be legally authorized to work in the U.S.

KEY COMPETENCIES:

  • Demonstrated leadership or managerial experience, experience working with multidisciplinary teams and/or background in coalition-building.
  • Excellent interpersonal and verbal communication skills
  • Willingness to travel.
  • Interest in and ability to work with groups of diverse individuals in respectful, equitable, and inclusive ways.
  • Enthusiasm for the work of the Innocence Project and for social justice, including a demonstrated commitment to public interest.
  • Shares values of equity, excellence, collaboration, humanity, integrity, respect, and accountability.

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYMENT

The Innocence Project considers the diversity of its workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its mission. We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. Individuals with personal connections to the criminal legal system are strongly encouraged to apply.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS: 

To apply, please visit JazzHR. Upload a cover letter expressing your interest in the role and the organization’s work, and a resume titled with your name (last name. first name. cover letter/resume). Only applications with cover letters will be considered complete applications. Information submitted through this secure site is kept confidential. Due to the large volume of applications, we are unable to give applicant updates by phone or direct email. 

**Applications for these positions will be considered on a rolling basis until the posts are filled.** 

LOCATION: New York City

SALARY RANGE: Starting salary $145,926 (commensurate with experience)

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