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Legal Counsel, Immigration Practice

Bronx, NY
Full Time
Practice Areas: Immigration Job #: 2020-1482 Exp.: 3+ Years Salary: $83,986 - $91,500 Yearly
The Bronx Defenders (BxD) – an innovative, progressive, holistic indigent defense office in the South Bronx – seeks two experienced immigration litigators with a commitment to social justice to fill new roles that the Immigration Practice’s Legal Department plans to create.

The Bronx Defenders is a public defender non-profit that is radically transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the legal system, and, in doing so, is transforming the system itself. BxD seeks thoughtful, creative, energetic individuals with a strong commitment to social justice to join our dynamic and diverse staff. Our staff of over 400 includes interdisciplinary teams made up of criminal, civil, immigration, and family defense attorneys, as well as social workers, benefits specialists, legal advocates, parent advocates, investigators, and team administrators, who collaborate to provide holistic advocacy to address the causes and consequences of legal system involvement. Through this integrated team-based structure, we have pioneered a groundbreaking, nationally-recognized model of representation called holistic defense that achieves better outcomes for our clients.

Each year, we defend more than 20,000 low-income Bronx residents in criminal, civil, child welfare, and immigration cases, and reach thousands more through our community intake, youth mentoring, and outreach programs. Through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community organizing, we push for systemic reform at the local, state, and national levels. We take what we learn from the clients and communities that we serve and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change.

The Immigration Practice Legal Department litigates complex immigration matters in the federal courts and provides legal resources, guidance, and practice advisories for BxD’s Immigration Practice. The federal litigation includes: petitions for review to circuit Courts of Appeals; federal petitions for writs of habeas corpus in district court; and other creative federal litigation strategies based on client needs, including FOIA, mandamus, Federal Tort Claims Act claims. The legal guidance work includes: ensuring that the practice is informed of legal updates that impact the practice using monthly updates, advisories, sample motions; consulting on complex legal issues in affirmative or defensive immigration cases and or plea consults; ensuring legal issues are being consistently litigated across the practice and preserved for appeal; tracking cases moving through the immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that may result in a petition for review to the circuit; serving as a resource for the practice regarding the law and litigation strategy; working collaboratively with other organizations on current and developing issues and strategies in immigration and federal court practice; working collaboratively with the other practices within BxD to ensure that our state court litigation is aligned with the needs of our non-citizen clients; and coordinating amicus submissions.

The Immigration Practice Counsel will report to the Legal Director and will hold the following responsibilities:
  • Litigate federal habeas cases and petitions for review to the Second Circuit, frequently in conjunction with other attorneys in the practice
  • When working in conjunction with other attorneys in the practice, provide consultation, expertise and support on the federal litigation
  • Represent a reduced number of clients in removal proceedings, and litigate a full docket of cases in federal court (PFR, habeas, other federal litigation), sometimes in conjunction with other attorneys in the Legal Department or in the broader practice
  • Provide input on federal court strategy for petitions for review and habeas litigation
  • Develop advisories/updates as well as templates or model work product for the Immigration Practice related to developments in federal litigation (lawsuits, class actions, habeas) and immigration cases (BIA, circuit, SCOTUS) in conjunction with the Legal Director and Deputy Legal Director
  • Track and anticipate cases moving through the agency and to the circuit and provide assistance to attorneys in ensuring all legal issues are appropriately and effectively presented
  • Provide guidance on immigration law developments relevant to the team-based practice, including guidance related to state law and practice developments (criminal, family, housing, and other courts) that impact Padilla advisals
  • Each counsel will do all of the above but have some specialization, with one spending significant time on federal habeas work (and related advisories and templates) and the other spending significant time on petitions for review and monitoring cases coming up through the immigration courts and BIA (and related advisories and templates)
  • The habeas practice of the counsel who specializes in federal court work will be supervised by the Deputy Legal Director. The counsel who specializes in appellate practice and guidance for the practice will be supervised by the Legal Director

To be eligible, applicants must have:
  • A minimum of 3 years practicing law as an immigration attorney or litigator on immigration-related issues as of September 2020
  • Experience writing and arguing federal habeas petitions and/or petitions for review (with a preference for experience in both)
  • We are specifically seeking applications from candidates with Spanish language skills and/or those from racially/ethnically marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by systemic injustice, whose lived experiences contribute to more culturally conscious client representation

Applicants must demonstrate:
  • Commitment to defending people with limited financial resources placed in removal proceedings or facing immigration consequences based on criminal system contact
  • Experience working in and with racially and ethnically marginalized communities targeted by systemic injustice
  • Excellent communication and active listening skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively and respectfully with lawyers and non-lawyers alike from various practice areas in an interdisciplinary team based setting
  • Ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment while maintaining organization
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Ability to communicate effectively with people from various backgrounds and experiences
  • Excellent time management and organization skills
  • Ability to receive feedback constructively, reflect and shift behavior accordingly
  • Ability to exercise excellent judgment, discretion, and confidentiality around sensitive issues
  • Excellent verbal and written advocacy skills
  • Ability to think critically and creatively in fast-paced settings
  • Excellent judgment in zealous advocacy and willing to strategically challenge authority in defense of clients
  • Strong legal analytical skills and capacity to explore non-legal resources and solutionsCommitment to raising one’s cultural consciousness and challenging oppressive practices on an interpersonal and institutional level

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