POSITION AVAILABLE: Research and Briefing Attorney, NDS Texas (Houston or San Antonio)

NEIGHBORHOOD DEFENDER SERVICE has created NDS Texas, a new client-centered, holistic public defense office to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border by providing criminal defense representation and Padilla consultations to individuals arrested by Texas law enforcement along that border through Operation Lone Star. 

NDS represents non-citizen clients who are charged with crimes and who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Clients are represented by teams composed of lawyers, investigators, social workers, client advocates, and team administrators. NDS adheres to a client-centered approach to representation that emphasizes a heightened responsiveness to clients’ needs. NDS Texas is funded by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.

The first office is based in San Antonio and opened in January 2022. A second office will open in Houston in August or September 2022. Flexible work arrangements and partial telecommuting will be available. Periodic travel to border counties and the jails will be required. Most legal proceedings will initially occur via Zoom.

The Research and Briefing Attorney will report to the Managing Attorney of NDS Texas.


  1. Embrace NDS’ philosophy of client-centered, community-based, holistic representation and commitment to excellence.
  2. Support the work of NDS Texas’ supervising attorneys, senior trial attorneys, and staff attorneys through research, drafting of motions and writs, briefing legal issues, and consulting for contested matters on record preservation.
  3. Draft and file appeals for NDS Texas’s clients. Appeals will be handled from filing to disposition and may include briefing and oral arguments in appellate courts.
  4. May be assigned a small caseload of felonies and misdemeanors.
  5. Provide vigorous representation with energy and enthusiasm to clients.
  6. Appear in all court proceedings for each client through the conclusion of their case.
  7. Interview clients and their families, conduct legal research, and write pre-pleading letters, motions, and pre-sentencing memoranda on behalf of clients.
  8. Coordinate work performed by team members (investigators, social workers, client advocate, team administrators, and interns).
  9. Work with cross-practice colleagues (immigration defense) to obtain meaningful, comprehensive legal outcomes for clients.
  10. File motions, briefs, and other related documents on a frequent and timely basis.
  11. Provide effective oral advocacy in negotiations and arguments in criminal cases.    
  12. Be responsive to and communicate clearly with clients who are often under great stress.

QUALIFICATIONS: The ideal candidate will bring:

  1. A demonstrated commitment to criminal justice, indigent defense, racial equity, and social justice issues, and a substantive understanding of the biases impacting our clients.
  2. An ability to quickly build relationships with people of varying identities, income levels, races, and ethnicities.
  3. At least three years of experience in legal writing, research, briefing, or appeals.
  4. Knowledge of criminal law and immigration law strongly preferred.
  5. Must be adept at drafting creative Constitutional and legal arguments.
  6. Clear and effective communication skills, both orally and in writing.
  7. An ability to work cooperatively in a team setting.
  8. A license to practice law in Texas or in another state; and/or the capability of becoming licensed to practice law in the State of Texas within six months. Attorneys admitted to the Texas Bar with experience in criminal courts of Texas are strongly encouraged to apply.
  9. Bilingual applicants are encouraged to apply. Spanish language fluency is strongly preferred.

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: Interviews are being held on a rolling basis, and applications will be accepted until all positions are filled. Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume to texashiring@neighborhooddefender.org with the subject line, “Texas Research and Briefing Attorney.”  

For more information about NDS, please visit our website at www.neighborhooddefender.org.

Neighborhood Defender Service is committed to creating a diverse environment that reflects the community we serve. NDS is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. 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 values and specifically seeks applicants who are people with incarcerated loved ones, formerly incarcerated people, people of color, women, queer, transgender, gender non‐ conforming, and gender fluid people.