Access to Justice Fellow

Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia | Washington, DC

Background

As DC's oldest and largest civil legal services program, Legal Aid’s mission is to make justice real—in individual and systemic ways—for persons living in poverty in the District of Columbia. Our clients are individuals and families, predominantly of color, in need of legal assistance in areas ranging from housing and domestic violence law to public benefits and consumer law. Legal Aid attorneys provide our clients with high-quality, zealous legal representation, while also seeking systemic solutions to the problems they face, through litigation, court reform, and legislative and agency advocacy.

Legal Aid, founded in 1932, provides free civil legal services to persons living in poverty in the District of Columbia. The largest part of our work is composed of direct representation in housing, family/domestic violence, public benefits, and consumer law. We also work on immigration law matters and help individuals with the collateral consequences of their involvement with the criminal justice system. From the experiences of our clients, we identify opportunities for law reform, public policy advocacy, and systemic reform litigation. We have grown to a staff of more than 90 attorneys and staff, serving some 10,000 DC residents annually through direct legal services, and tens of thousands more through systemic advocacy and litigation. For more information about Legal Aid, please visit our website, www.LegalAidDC.org, and our blog, www.MakingJusticeReal.org.

Job Summary

Legal Aid is seeking a one-year Fellow to help us advance systemic improvements to access to justice on behalf of our client community starting in August or September 2021. The Access to Justice Fellow will work closely with Legal Aid’s leadership and supervisory team as well as all our staff to coordinate and advance systemic changes in administrative and court processes to foster more equal access. This is a particularly critical moment in time for this work as tribunals are increasingly focusing on how to process the backlog of pending cases, as well as the deluge of cases that will be filed in the wake of the pandemic. Because of the undeniably disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color, this systemic advocacy work will be approached through a racial justice lens. This is primarily a non-case handling position that will focus mostly on systemic advocacy with institutions that adjudicate issues directly impacting individuals living in poverty in the District. A special emphasis will be placed on using law, policy, and community education and engagement to advance racial justice and equity.  

(Note: Depending on current circumstances, the individual hired for the position may work remotely, participate in remote hearings, and work on cases to meet the urgent needs of our client community during the pandemic.)

Responsibilities

  • Conduct legal and factual research and gather and analyze data to inform Legal Aid’s systemic access to justice advocacy efforts.
  • Build Legal Aid’s advocacy capacity by offering technical assistance and support to Legal Aid attorneys and staff engaged in systemic access to justice advocacy within specific practice areas.
  • Build and maintain relationships with staff, judges, and leadership at court and administrative hearing offices.
  • Organize and conduct community and professional outreach events.
  • Participate in Legal Aid's access to justice initiatives, including working with clients to promote client-centered goals.
  • Advocate for improvements to court and agency rules, forms, notices, and other public facing information to build the capacity of unrepresented people to obtain the services they need and assert their rights.
  • May include limited case handling in matters presenting issues of bias or systemic barriers to accessing justice through the courts or administrative hearing offices.

Qualifications

  • Strong commitment to social, economic, and racial justice.
  • A JD from an accredited law school.
  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills, and comfort working with colleagues across departments.
  • Strong organizational skills with excellent attention to detail, and ability to manage multiple assignments on different timelines.
  • Ability to work skillfully, both independently and collaboratively with teams.

Compensation

The attorney will be paid in accordance with Legal Aid’s salary scale based on years of experience, with a starting salary of $54,756 for an entry-level attorney who has just passed the bar, followed by a step increase each year thereafter. Generous benefits package includes fully paid health insurance (for the employee), annual discretionary retirement match, and 12 days of vacation, 15 days of sick leave, ten paid federal/local holidays, and three personal days.

How to Apply

Legal Aid values an inclusive, diverse workplace and encourages applications from interested persons from diverse backgrounds of any race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, personal appearance, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, or any other legally protected status. We strongly encourage applications from people with personal experience with the criminal justice system and/or with lived experiences in the communities we serve. Interested persons are encouraged to apply immediately and should submit a letter of interest and resume through our online portal (link below). Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted. Position remains open until filled.

https://legalaiddc.bamboohr.com/jobs/view.php?id=56

Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

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Organization: Nonprofit organizations