Position Information

Position Information Message
Attorney in Charge – Law Reform

The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice is seeking a dynamic leader and strategic thinker to lead our Law Reform team as Attorney in Charge.


The Legal Aid Society is the largest and oldest provider of social justice legal services in the nation. The Criminal Defense Practice is the primary – and only city-wide – public defender in New York City, providing holistic representation to over 200,000 people ensnared in the criminal legal system every year.


The Law Reform team of the Criminal Defense Practice includes Legal Aid’s Special Litigation Unit, Prisoners’ Rights Project, Community Justice Unit and Decarceration Project.


The Special Litigation Unit of the Criminal Defense Practice engages in civil litigation and policy advocacy to address systemic injustices affecting the Legal Aid Society’s criminal defense clients and their families. Examples of past work include federal litigation challenging the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices and violent response to the 2020 racial justice protests, policy advocacy to reform New York’s pre-trial criminal discovery and bail statutes, and combined litigation and policy campaigning to end mandatory detention of people accused of violating parole conditions.


The Prisoners’ Rights Project is New York’s leading advocate for humane and constitutional conditions in New York City jails and state prisons. Examples of past work include federal litigation to compel the provision of educational services to high school students held in adult jails, address violent and unsafe conditions in city jails, and to compel the provision of COVID-19 vaccines to people incarcerated across New York state.

The Community Justice Unit houses the community organizing function of the Criminal Defense Practice and works with community organizations as part of New York City’s Cure Violence program, aimed at curtailing violence with early intervention and community engagement. Our staff provide and connect program participants to holistic legal representation and conduct extensive community outreach, including legal clinics and Know Your Rights trainings.

The Decarceration Project fights to make pre-trial detention the exception, not the rule, by working alongside defenders to ensure as many of our clients return to their communities after arrest as possible, providing strategic litigation support to trial staff and managing special initiatives and projects designed to reduce the Rikers population.

The Attorney in Charge is responsible for leading these teams; developing and pursuing a strategic vision for the law and policy work that advances the overall rights and welfare of our clients and remains true to our organizational mission and values; managing our affirmative litigation docket and working with staff to develop potential cases, legal theories and litigation strategies; and leading our legislative and policy work, including working with staff to build and maintain coalitions and relationships with legislative and executive champions. They will also act as a representative of the Legal Aid Society in coalitions, with external stakeholders, and in the media.


Candidates will demonstrate a capacity to think strategically, inspire the work of other attorneys and staff working in their teams, and collaborate with public defenders and specialized attorneys across Legal Aid to identify and address systemic legal issues affecting our clients. They will be a motivated leader who will support a diverse workforce and create and enhance a supportive, collaborative, and inclusive workplace culture.



  • Provide strategic leadership, direction and management to the Special Litigation Unit, the Prisoners’ Rights Project, the Community Justice Unit and other units assigned to the Criminal Defense Practice (CDP) Law Reform division
  • Ensure strategic rigor and consistency in CDP’s law reform work; ground that work in the needs and interests of CDP’s public defense clients; and develop mechanisms to monitor and evaluate impact
  • Direct CDP’s impact litigation docket and policy reform agenda, including by leading the development of and cultivating others to develop new initiatives and providing strategic input on existing initiatives
  • Set and achieve high standards for legal and policy work as well as collaborative coalition and community engagement work across the CDP Law Reform division
  • Center Legal Aid’s core values as well as principles of accessibility, equity, inclusion and belonging in CDP’s law reform work and organizational practices and processes
  • Provide proactive, compassionate line management to direct reports within the Law Reform division
  • Ensure consistent internal coordination and communication about law reform initiatives within CDP and among CDP and Legal Aid’s Civil and Juvenile Rights practices and senior leadership
  • Act as a primary spokesperson for The Legal Aid Society in the media and public appearances


The posting reflects the range of potential salaries for the role.  The specific salary offers will be dependent on candidate qualifications, including collectively bargained salary steps for unionized roles.


Salary Range

$150,000 to $165,000



The leadership of The Legal Aid Society believes in attracting and retaining exceptional talent committed to serving our clients. We offer a generous benefits package including health insurance, paid vacation, disability, and life insurance, and more. Salaries for our unionized jobs are governed by our Collective Bargaining Agreement. Please visit our Careers page for additional information. Salary and benefits information will be available to applicants, when and if, an offer is made.



The leadership of The Legal Aid Society is committed to a work culture of zealous advocacy, respect, diversity and inclusion, client-oriented defense, access to justice and excellent representation. We are dedicated to building a strong professional relationship with each of our clients, to understanding their diverse circumstances, and to meeting their needs. Our ability to achieve these goals depends on the efforts of all of us.



All applications must be completed online . We do not accept paper submissions. Please visit our Careers Page to review all current job postings, and instructions on the application process. For technical difficulties or questions regarding this posting, please email jobpostquestions@legal-aid.org.


As an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Employer, The Legal Aid Society prohibits discriminatory employment actions against and treatment of its employees and applicants for employment based on actual or perceived race or color, size (including bone structure, body size, height, shape, and weight), religion or creed, alienage or citizenship status, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity (one’s internal deeply-held sense of one’s gender which may be the same or different from one’s sex assigned at birth); gender expression (the representation of gender as expressed through, for example, one’s name, choice of pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, or body characteristics; gender expression may not conform to traditional gender-based stereotypes assigned to specific gender identities), disability, marital status, relationship and family structure (including domestic partnerships, polyamorous families and individuals, chosen family, platonic co-parents, and multigenerational families), genetic information or predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, arrest or pre-employment conviction record, credit history, unemployment status, caregiver status, salary history, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Required Documents

Please submit these documents as a single combined PDF when you apply via the LAS (Legal Aid Society) Recruitment Portal.

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Writing Sample
Position: Attorney in Charge – Law Reform
Organization: The Legal Aid Society
Location: New York,  NY 
United States
Salary: $150,000 to $165,000
Posting Start Date:
Date Posted: 7/5/2023
  • Admission to New York State Bar
  • Minimum of 12 years’ experience as an attorney, including demonstrable experience with law reform litigation, policy advocacy and criminal trial or appellate work
  • Minimum 5 years’ experience in a supervisory and leadership role, including direct experience line managing staff and contributing to the professional development of others
  • Experience working in a nonprofit with a focus on improving the lives of low-income people
  • Experience in strategic planning, including managing planning processes; implementing plans and managing change; and monitoring and evaluating progress
  • Experience with media advocacy and strategic communications
  • Excellent collaboration skills, including and ability to foster constructive, respectful working relationships with colleagues and coalition partners and an understanding of the importance of attention to principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in collaborative relationships
  • Nuanced understanding of state and federal constitutional and civil rights law and principles, particularly in their application to the criminal legal system
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to convey complex legal concepts clearly and with precision
  • Demonstrated commitment to advancing racial equity in the criminal legal system
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and building and equitable and inclusive work environment
Status: This listing expires on: 10/3/2023
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Organization Information
The Legal Aid Society
199 Water Street

New York,  NY 10038
United States