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 defense representation to residents of Northern Manhattan. NDS is accepting applications for the position of Staff Attorney with the Criminal Defense Practice.

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.


  1. Provide vigorous representation with energy and enthusiasm to residents of Northern Manhattan in Manhattan’s criminal courts;
  2. Engage in frequent court appearances and litigation, including arraignments, grand jury presentations, legal arguments, hearings and trials;
  3. 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;
  4. Coordinate work performed by team members (investigators, social workers, team
    administrators and interns);
  5. Work with cross-practice colleagues (family defense, immigration defense, housing defense and other civil defense) to obtain comprehensive legal outcomes for clients;
  6. File motions, briefs and other related documents on a frequent and timely basis;
  7. Provide effective oral advocacy in negotiations and arguments in criminal cases;
  8. Work primarily at NDS’ main office in Central Harlem when not in Court;
  9. Collaborate with and provide mentorship to less experienced staff;
  10. Respond and communicate clearly with clients who are often under great stress.


  1. Must possess a demonstrated commitment to criminal justice, indigent defense, social justice issues and/or the Northern Manhattan communities;
  2. At least 2 years of experience representing clients prosecuted in the criminal legal system;
  3. 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;
  4. Must possess the high level of organizational and administrative skills required to handle a challenging caseload;
  5. Must possess strong writing skills;
  6. Bi-lingual (Spanish) attorneys are encouraged to apply.


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. The salary, benefits, and employment policies relevant to this position are governed by the CBA between NDS and the NDS Union, part of ALAA UAW 2325.


Interested applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and writing sample attached in a single PDF document to Danielle Jackson at with the subject line, “Staff Attorney, Criminal Defense Practice.” For more information about NDS, please visit our website at
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.