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Staff or Senior Attorney, Legal Orientation Program

Washington, DC
Full Time
This position is full-time and exempt. This position will be remote at this time due to the pandemic, but will normally be based in our Washington, D.C. office.

A staff or senior attorney in the Detained Adult Program’s Legal Orientation Program (LOP) focuses on the provision of direct legal services to immigrant adults held in facilities in Virginia and Maryland who are unrepresented and cannot afford private counsel. These services include: (i) delivering Know Your Rights presentations and workshops, (ii) conducting intakes with all unrepresented persons, (iii) triaging and screening cases for pro bono placement with internal teams at CAIR Coalition and external partners, and liaising with these partners, (iv) mentoring external pro bono attorneys, and (v) providing pro se assistance to individuals CAIR Coalition is unable to match with pro bono counsel. During this work, LOP attorneys are responsible for identifying trends and emerging issues faced by the people we work with in detention and coordinating responses. Attorneys in this program also directly represent detained clients in their immigration proceedings in a small number of cases each year.

General Duties and Responsibilities[1]:
Direct Services to Detained Unrepresented People ~85%:
  • Plan and lead visits[2] to government detention facilities throughout Virginia and Maryland (approximately 2-4 full days per month, including 2-day overnight visits), including oversight and supervision of staff and volunteers during visits and assistance in preparation and breakdown from visits.
  • Perform Know-Your-Rights presentations and pro se workshops in Spanish, English, and (with interpretation) other languages to help detained individuals navigate the immigration court system. Coordinate efforts to ensure every newly arrived person at the detention center has the opportunity to attend presentations. Assist in adapting presentations and workshops to respond to changes in the law and legal needs of the people we work with in detention.
  • Conduct individual intakes with immigrants at the detention facilities to evaluate and provide the necessary information and assistance they need to understand their cases. Work with team to ensure that every unrepresented person at the detention center has the opportunity to complete an intake.
  • Participate in and lead team sessions to review new intakes to triage for follow up services. Screen for eligibility for all forms of relief and/or release from detention, including asylum, withholding of removal, protection under the Convention against Torture, cancellation of removal, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U and T visas, and termination as well as appeals, bond and habeas petitions. Analyze immigration consequences of criminal convictions or allegations. Develop tailored messages providing further legal information that detained individuals need to navigate their cases pro se.
  • Conduct further follow up tasks to evaluate eligibility for relief and pro bono placement, including performing legal research, securing criminal/juvenile delinquency records, obtaining additional information from family and community members, and writing case summaries. Make appropriate referrals to in-house programs for legal representation. Liaise with external partners at law schools, non-profit organizations, and firms in coordination with pro bono coordinating attorney for the purpose of securing and furthering access to legal services for detained individuals.
  • Provide one-on-one pro se education and assistance to certain individuals who remain unrepresented, including family outreach, country conditions research, gathering evidence, and preparing the individual to navigate their hearing pro se. Provide resources, assistance, and information to individuals from a wide array of backgrounds and needs, including people who speak a range of languages (with interpreters available for languages other than Spanish), have varying degrees of literacy, and experience mental disability or illness.
  • Identify and track trends and emerging issues faced by the people we work with in detention affecting their immigration cases. Coordinate with others in the organization to help detained people respond to and access better information on issues. Make appropriate referrals and provide necessary insight to in-house and external teams working on responding to the emergent issues identified.
  • Provide supervision on legal matters and other support to legal assistant and junior staff in the program.

Mentoring and Representation ~15%:
  • Manage a caseload of pro bono mentorship cases to ensure competent, zealous representation and timely completion and submission of all filings by external partners. Provide expert mentoring to outside attorneys representing detained immigrants on a pro bono basis by orienting teams to cases, providing necessary client access information and assisting in troubleshooting accessibility concerns, providing feedback on filings, answering complex legal questions, and assisting with mooting and trial preparation.[3]
  • Represent in a small number of in-house direct representation cases for detained clients that can include merits (trial) representation, bond, negative fear interview reviews, appeals and/or habeas petitions.
  • Prepare and guide pro bono teams through putting together post release and social service plans, in coordination with social services staff.
  • Research, engage, and prepare experts on health, behavioral health, and country conditions and pro bono teams working with these experts.

Organizational Services:
  • Actively engage in CAIR Coalition’s training and advocacy efforts, as needed.
  • Take part in stakeholder relationship activities, including in-person and telephonic meetings with community groups, governmental bodies and representatives (including ICE, jail and court officials), and other legal service providers.
  • Interface with the community of support for clients and unrepresented people.
  • Engage with internal CAIR Coalition committees and working groups to lend a voice to the growth and strategy of the organization.
  • Coordinate with all internal CAIR Coalition Programs (e.g., Impact Lab, National Qualified Representative Program, Safe Cities/Universal Representation Programs) to ensure all programs are kept abreast of developments, clients, and referrals.
  • Ensure the inputting and accuracy of data and case information into shared databases in a timely fashion.
  • Undertake own administrative functions, including for case and follow up work (e.g., preparation of all aspects of filings). CAIR Coalition attorneys do not have dedicated paralegals for assistance on cases and non-attorney staff time is dedicated to client-facing tasks (e.g, jail visits, pro se assistance).
  • Assist other program staff in completion of their workload during high-work/low-bandwidth periods.

Qualifications Required:
  • JD and relevant experience in immigration law or comparable field.
  • Must be licensed to practice law or (for staff attorney position) have recently taken the bar exam.
  • Written and oral Spanish working proficiency required, fluency preferred.
  • Driver’s license required.

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