The Family Defense Practice at NDS represents parents in family policing cases (sometimes called “child welfare” cases) filed by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) as well as related family court cases, including custody, visitation and termination of parental rights proceedings.  Through our holistic approach to representation, the Family Defense Practice provides parents with the help they need—both inside and outside of court—to keep their families safe and stable. Parents are represented not only by a high-quality attorney, but also social workers, team administrators, and parent advocates.  NDS is committed to advancing due process rights for parents by fighting unwarranted state intervention in their lives and advocating for related systemic change.  The Staff Attorney will work closely with Team Administrators, Parent Advocates and Social Workers to provide vigorous representation.

Role and Responsibilities

  • Provide representation with energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to trauma-informed, anti-racist, intersectional, non-judgmental, and truly holistic advocacy throughout the case;
  • Engage in frequent court hearings and litigation, often on an emergency basis;
  • Staff intake regularly, as assigned;
  • File motions, briefs and other related court papers on a frequent, timely basis;
  • Provide effective oral advocacy in negotiation and argument in Family Court;
  • Collaborate with and provide mentorship to less experienced staff attorneys;
  • Be responsive to and communicate clearly with clients who are often under great stress;
  • Cooperatively and effectively work with NDS non-attorney advocates in order to provide clients with assistance both in and out of court;
  • Work under high pressure in an atmosphere of frequent emergencies and tight deadlines.

Desired Capabilities and Qualifications

  • NDS is seeking an attorney with a demonstrated commitment to parents’ rights, indigent defense, social justice issues and/or the Harlem communities;
  • Candidates with experience representing parents in Article 10 Abuse and Neglect proceedings or equivalent experience providing defense/direct representation are strongly encouraged to apply;
  • Must be very flexible and possess a high level of organizational and administrative skills in order to handle a high caseload;
  • Must possess strong writing skills;
  • Applicants are expected to be admitted to the NYS Bar or sit for the next available NYS Bar exam or equivalent and pursue admission to the NYS Bar; 
  • Bi-lingual 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 applications should email a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Zainab Akbar at zakbar@ndsny.org with the subject line, “NDS FDP Staff Attorney Posting.” Please send your application as one document, preferably PDF. 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.