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 to residents of Northern Manhattan who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. NDS clients are represented by multidisciplinary teams including attorneys, advocates, team administrators, investigators and social workers. NDS is accepting applications for the position of Staff Attorney specializing in the role of Retained Intake.


As a member of the Criminal Defense Practice the Retained Intake Attorney will work with the Retained Intake Advocate to provide early defense through pre-arrest and pre-arraignment representation to NDS clients. 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 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.

Role and Responsibilities

The attorney will work with the retained intake advocate and other members of the Criminal Defense practice to provide early defense to NDS clients facing potential criminal prosecution or requiring representation as witnesses:

Provide vigorous representation with energy and enthusiasm to residents of Northern Manhattan including representing clients in pre-arrest investigations, negotiating surrenders, preparing bail applications, and representing retained intake clients at arraignment and through the course of a reduced caseload of cases.

  • Interview clients and their families in the Harlem office or local jails;
  • Coordinate work performed by team members on behalf of retained clients (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;
  • 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 coordinate and collaborate with other staff;
  • At least three years of experience representing clients in criminal matters, preferably both misdemeanors and felonies.
  • 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 communication and advocacy 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. 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.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should email a cover letter, resume and writing sample as one PDF with the subject line, “Staff Attorney, Retained Intake” to: We are looking to fill this position immediately. 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 work 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.