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 Social Worker with the Criminal Defense Practice.

The Criminal Defense Practice at NDS represents residents of Northern Manhattan who are charged with crimes and cannot afford to hire a lawyer.  Clients are represented by teams composed of lawyers, investigators, social workers, client advocates, 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.


  1. 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;
    • Writing pre-pleading memoranda to judges and prosecutors seeking reduced sentences and alternatives to incarceration.
  2. 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.
  3. Advocate orally on behalf of clients to judges, programs and assistant district attorneys.


  1. Must have a MSW degree.
  2. Must possess a demonstrated commitment to criminal justice, indigent defense, social justice issues and/or the Harlem communities.
  3. Must possess strong organizational skills in order to manage a high caseload and multi-task in a very fast-paced environment.
  4. Must possess excellent interpersonal, analytical, writing, and communication skills.
  5. Must possess a high level of organization, unlimited energy and patience, and the ability to work on a team.
  6. 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, resume and writing sample to Rebecca Mielczarek at with the subject line, “Social Worker, Criminal Defense Practice.”  Please send your application as one document, preferably PDF.

The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem 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.