THE NEIGHBORHOOD DEFENDER SERVICE OF HARLEM (NDS) is a community-based, client-centered, holistic public defense office located in Harlem, providing criminal, civil, and family representation.  NDS is accepting applications for the position of Mitigation Specialist with the Youth Law Practice. 

The Youth Law Practice at NDS represents Northern Manhattan youth who are prosecuted in New York City Family Courts on juvenile delinquency and PINS (Persons-in-Need-of-Supervision), petitions or in Supreme Court on Adolescent and Juvenile Offender cases.  Clients are represented by a team composed of lawyers, investigators, mitigation specialists, team administrators and interns.  NDS also provides pre-arrest representation to clients under threat of arrest.  NDS adheres to a client-centered approach to representation that emphasizes a heightened responsiveness to clients’ needs prior to arrest, while a case is pending, and after the case concludes.  NDS is committed to addressing the comprehensive legal and social service needs of clients.  


  • Work closely with team members to advocate for reduced sentences and/or alternatives to incarceration for clients.  This advocacy includes: 
    • Gathering factual mitigation through interviews and obtaining records;  
    • Analyzing records;  
    • Researching and recommending alternatives to incarceration and detention; 
    • Writing dispositional memoranda to judges and prosecutors seeking to prevent out-of-home placement.
  • Work closely with clients to: 
    • Make appropriate referrals to address clients’ social service needs (drug treatment, mental health treatment, housing and other benefits);  
    • Assist clients in navigating New York City Social Service Agencies;  
    • Advocate on behalf of clients to social service agencies. 
    • Prepare clients and their families for interviews 
  • Advocate orally on behalf of clients to judges, programs and assistant district attorneys and assistant corporation counsel.


1. Must have experience in youth development and working with children, adolescents and their family members

2. A working knowledge of youth programming in New York City a plus.

3. Must possess a demonstrated commitment to criminal justice, indigent defense, social justice issues and/or the Harlem communities.

4. Must possess strong organizational skills in order to manage a high caseload and multi-task in a very fast-paced environment.

5. Must possess excellent interpersonal, analytical, writing, and communication skills.

6. Must possess a high level of organization, unlimited energy and patience, and the ability to work on a team.

7. Masters of Social Work or other relevant post-graduate degree is preferred. Relevant experience accepted in the alternative.

8. Bilingual applicants are encouraged to apply. Spanish language fluency is preferred.


Compensation is commensurate with experience and is in adherence to the NDS compensation scale. Full medical and dental benefits, as well as other benefits, are provided.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume to with the subject line, “Mitigation Specialist, Youth Law Practice.” Please send your application as one document, preferably PDF.

NDS is an equal opportunity employer.

NDS is an equal opportunity employer.