The Criminal Defense Practice at NDS represents residents of Northern Manhattan who are charged with crimes who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Clients are represented by teams composed of lawyers, investigators, social workers, and team administrators. 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. The Staff Attorney will represent clients charged with all offenses – ranging from violations through felonies – from arrest through disposition.

Role and Responsibilities

The attorney will be part of an interdisciplinary team who will assist clients in criminal matters, including: 

  • Provide vigorous representation with energy and enthusiasm to residents of Northern Manhattan in Manhattan’s criminal courts;  
  • Engage in frequent court appearances and litigation, including arraignments, grand jury presentations, legal arguments, hearings and trials;
  • Interview clients and their families in the Harlem office or local jails, conduct legal research and write pre-pleading letters, motions and pre-sentencing memoranda on behalf of clients;
  • Coordinate work performed by team members (investigators, social workers, team administrators and interns);
  • Work with cross-practice colleagues (family defense, immigration defense, housing defense and other civil defense) to obtain comprehensive legal outcomes for clients;
  • File motions, briefs and other related documents on a frequent and timely basis;
  • Provide effective oral advocacy in negotiations and arguments in criminal cases; 
  • Work primarily at NDS’ main office in Central Harlem when not in Court. 

Desired Capabilities and Qualifications:

  • Embrace NDS’s philosophy of client-centered, community-based, holistic representation and commitment to excellence;
  • Must possess a demonstrated commitment to criminal justice, indigent defense, social justice issues and/or the Northern Manhattan communities; 
  • Ability to collaborate with and provide mentorship to less experienced staff;
  • Responsiveness and ability to communicate clearly with clients who are often under great stress. 
  • Must have at least three (3) years of experience representing clients in criminal matters;
  •  A license to practice law in the State of New York and/or the capability of becoming licensed to practice law in New York within six months;
  • Must possess the high level of organizational and administrative skills required to handle a challenging caseload; 
  • Must possess strong writing skills;
  • Bi-lingual (Spanish) attorneys are encouraged to apply


NDS offers a generous compensation package, including a competitive base salary as well as health, 403(b) and vacation benefits. Salary is commensurate with experience and is in adherence to the NDS Collective Bargaining Agreement with ALAA-UAW Local 2325.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should email a cover letter, resume and writing sample as one PDF with the subject line, “Staff Attorney,Criminal Practice” to: efischer@ndsny.org.  We are looking to fill this position immediately. Applications are due no later than August 15, 2020, candidates will be interviewed on a rolling basis and the position closed when filled.  

The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem is committed to maintaining a diverse environment that reflects the community we serve. NDS is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.  We strongly encourage candidates of all identities, orientations, experiences, and communities to apply.