Neighborhood Defender Service (NDS) is a client-centered, collaborative, and community-based holistic public defense office with locations in Harlem, Detroit, San Antonio, and Houston. For over 30 years, NDS has refined and advanced the practice of holistic defense. In contrast to a traditional public defense practice, NDS clients have an entire team fighting on their behalf, including criminal and civil attorneys, family defense attorneys, advocates, social workers, investigators, paralegals, law school and social work interns, and pro bono attorneys. NDS deploys all of these resources on behalf of our clients, addressing the underlying issues that bring them into contact with the criminal and civil legal systems. NDS staff use their engagement with a client as an opportunity to disentangle them from the system completely.

Beyond providing direct representation, NDS works to transform the criminal and civil legal systems within its communities and throughout the United States. NDS is deeply committed to providing access to justice for those most impacted by the criminal and civil legal systems, both through its excellent holistic public defense representation and through transformative advocacy.

The Access to Justice Fellow is a leading participant in NDS’ policy and strategy development and implementation.

Access to Justice Fellowship:

NDS seeks a creative, entrepreneurial, and talented individual with a demonstrated commitment to serving historically overpoliced and underserved communities, for a two-year fellowship period. The ideal candidate will possess an enthusiasm for examining policing and indigent defense issues, an appreciation for data’s role in implementing institutional, structural, and systemic change, and a drive to make a concrete difference in fighting injustice and empowering communities. The Fellow will report to and work closely with the CEO.  


  1. Embrace NDS’ philosophy of client-centered, community-based, holistic representation.
  2. Research current indigent defense systems and practices in a variety of jurisdictions, both for criminal and civil matters, within and outside of the United States; policing trends at the national, state, and local level; and the laws, policies, and practices that affect our clients and the broader public. Envision new ways to transform this landscape and develop, in collaboration with the CEO and others, ideas and strategies to bring concrete change.
  3. Evaluate state, county, and local spending on law enforcement, jails and prisons, prosecution, court-appointed representation and collected data and published reports regarding arrests, court-appointment, pretrial detention, sentencing, reentry, and more.
  4. Prepare public presentations before lawmakers, government officials, stakeholders, community members, and fellow members of the legal community.
  5. Write and submit funding proposals and other requests for private and public funding entities and memorandum regarding the criminal and civil legal system, policing, and indigent defense practices.
  6. Provide project management assistance as needed to ensure that NDS meets anticipated deadlines and benchmarks. Foster an emphasis on data collection, continual improvement of the NDS model, dissemination of results, and incorporation of promising practices into NDS operations.
  7. Engage and communicate with stakeholders and NDS partners.


  1. A demonstrated commitment to criminal justice, indigent defense, racial equity, and social justice issues.
  2. Strong research, writing, and oral communications skills with a talent for weaving together law, public policy, and data to support a larger argument for institutional, structural, and systemic change.
  3. An ability to quickly build relationships across varying identities, income levels, races and ethnicities.
  4. A track record of strategically guiding projects; applying good and practiced judgment; and routinely pushing through roadblocks to achieve goals.
  5. A high level of organizational, administrative, and project management skills.
  6. A working understanding of the importance of data collection and analysis.
  7. A J.D. and/or other graduate level degree is preferred.

The priority deadline for applications is September 16, 2022. Thereafter, applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Compensation: Compensation is commensurate with experience and is in adherence to the NDS compensation scale. Exceptional benefits package includes full medical and dental for employee and family, retirement, life and AD&D insurance, paid vacation, holiday, and sick time.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and writing sample of five to six pages to with the subject line, “Access to Justice Fellowship.” Please send your application as one document, preferably PDF. For more information about NDS, please visit our website at

Neighborhood Defender Service is committed to creating a diverse work environment that creates the greatest ingenuity and productivity. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. NDS encourages people with incarcerated loved ones, formerly incarcerated people, people of color, women, queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender fluid people to apply.