Diversity and Careers
The Legal Aid Society, the nation’s oldest and largest not-for-profit legal services organization, is more than a law firm for low-income New Yorkers. It is an indispensable component of the legal, social, and economic fabric of New York City — passionately advocating for low-income individuals and families across a variety of civil, criminal and juvenile rights matters, while also fighting for legal reform.
The Legal Aid Society is the largest and most diverse legal employer in the Metropolitan New York area. The New York City Bar Association recognized The Legal Aid Society's enhanced efforts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce by conferring the City Bar's "Diversity Champion" designation in 2012. Accepting the award, The Legal Aid Society stated that “this designation distinguishes the joint efforts of the Society's management and staff from those at other legal services organizations and will thereby help the Society to continue to make progress in recruiting, hiring and retaining diverse law students.”
The Legal Aid Society'S Diversity Policy
The Legal Aid Society is an equal opportunity employer. We believe true workforce diversity enables us to recruit, retain, promote, and tap the full potential of staff at all levels of the organization. It is the diversity of our workforce, and the broad range of individual characteristics, beliefs, and values of our staff that characterizes our fundamental approach to delivering the best service to our clients. Diversity includes not only the areas of actual or perceived age, race, color, creed, religion, disability, marital status, pregnancy, national origin and citizenship, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and veteran status, but also extends to personal history, work experiences, education, job function, job tenure, personality, geographic origin, ways of thinking, leadership ability, and skill level. It is with full recognition of the value that each person’s individual experience and character brings to our workplace that we embrace diversity as one of the Society’s core principles.
As an equal opportunity 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, color, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, religion, creed, sex, gender (including “gender identity” -- which refers to a person’s actual or perceived sex, and includes self-image, appearance, behavior or expression, whether or not different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned to the person at birth), disability, age (18 and over), military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, marital status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, sexual orientation, or status as a victim of domestic violence, a sex offense or stalking.
(Current job opportunities)
Current job opportunities at The Legal Aid Society:
To check your current application status or to search all postings on our application portal click here.
STARTING A CAREER AS AN ATTORNEY AT THE LEGAL AID SOCIETY
The Legal Aid Society offers new lawyers a unique opportunity to advocate for social justice and law reform, develop outstanding legal skills, and join a staff of dedicated and expert legal advocates with a national reputation for excellence, while doing extraordinary community-based work on behalf of low-income clients who need legal assistance. Legal Aid attorneys serve as public defenders, as civil legal services lawyers in housing, benefits, family law, immigration, health law, consumer law and scores of other civil matters, and as attorneys for children in child protective, delinquency and PINS proceedings. The Legal Aid Society has a comprehensive and innovative approach to providing cutting edge legal services for clients, as seen in our Recruitment Brochure below.
All applicants for staff attorney positions must apply at the LAS Recruitment Portal and follow the application deadlines in the 2019-2020 Staff Attorney and Law Student Intern Hiring Season document. The Legal Aid Society is reducing its carbon footprint and therefore paper applications are not accepted. Applications submitted without all the required materials will not be processed.
The Legal Aid Society has performed this role in City, State and federal courts since 1876. It does so by capitalizing on the diverse expertise, experience, and capabilities of 1,100 of the brightest legal minds. These 1,100 Legal Aid Society lawyers work with some 700 social workers, investigators, paralegals and support and administrative staff. Through a network of borough, neighborhood, and courthouse offices in 25 locations in New York City, the Society provides comprehensive legal services in all five boroughs of New York City for clients who cannot afford to pay for private counsel.
The Society’s legal program operates three major practices — Civil, Criminal and Juvenile Rights — and receives volunteer help from law firms, corporate law departments and expert consultants that is coordinated by the Society’s Pro Bono program. Annually, the Society handles more than 300,000 cases and legal matters for clients with civil, criminal, and juvenile rights problems. The Legal Aid Society takes on more cases for more clients than any other legal services organization in the United States. And it brings a depth and breadth of perspective that is unmatched in the legal profession.
At The Legal Aid Society, the opportunities for professional growth are unmatched. Through intensive training, including extensive courtroom experience, new attorneys become skilled advocates who provide their clients with high quality, comprehensive professional representation. The combination of excellent initial and ongoing training, broad litigation experience and early client contact has enabled The Legal Aid Society to recruit the best lawyers and retain them on the Society’s staff.
Within two years of joining the staff of The Legal Aid Society, the Criminal trial lawyers can be certified to try felonies, the Criminal appellate lawyers may be arguing appeals before the State’s highest court, the Juvenile Rights lawyers will be representing children in complex child protective or delinquency proceedings, and the lawyers in the Civil Practice will be handling a wide variety of civil legal matters in the State and federal courts.
The Legal Aid Society's unique value is an ability to go beyond any one case to create more equitable outcomes for individuals and broader, more powerful systemic change for society as a whole. In addition to the annual caseload of 300,000 individual cases and legal matters, the Society’s law reform work benefits some two million low-income families and individuals in New York City and the landmark rulings in many of these cases have a State-wide and national impact.
To ensure that its clients receive effective representation and assistance that meet the highest standards of the legal profession, The Legal Aid Society places great emphasis on the coordination, development, and expansion of training programs for its staff.
The Legal Aid Society is an accredited Continuing Legal Education provider. Each of the three Practices has a comprehensive, full-time training program for incoming attorneys, complimented by regular ongoing training for new and experienced attorneys. Because the excellence of the Society’s training program is well-known, Society staff members are regularly asked to be trainers for national programs and the Society’s in-house training program for new lawyers has been cited as a national model.
APPLYING FOR FELLOWSHIPS AT THE LEGAL AID SOCIETY
Each year, The Legal Aid Society sponsors candidates for public service fellowships such Skadden, Soros Justice, and Equal Justice Works. Graduates from Yale will also be considered for Liman Fellowships and any other fellowships available via the school. Columbia University and New York University law students are also eligible for Kirkland & Ellis Fellowships. Please consult the Fellowship program websites/school guidelines for information on your eligibility for funding.
We are seeking dynamic and organized applicants who have strong written and oral skills. Applicants should be rising third-year law students, who will serve in a two-year Fellowship. The Fellow will play an integral role in the work of The Legal Aid Society. The fellow’s specific responsibilities will depend upon the project but may include:
the completion of at least one substantial research project or empirical study;
developing, maintaining, and reporting data on the Fellowship project;
active participation in the practice area’s client advocacy and litigation agenda;
developing training materials and/or training staff, if needed, on the subject matter of the Fellowship;
developing materials for social media use.
Some Past Fellows Include:
Loretta Johnson, Equal Justice Works Fellow (2016). Loretta Johnson represented children in child welfare proceedings where reunification is the goal and build a practice model focusing on collaboration with parents' attorneys to speed up the reunification process.
Melissa Ader, Equal Justice Works Fellow (2015). Melissa Ader provided direct representation and community education to low-income New Yorkers with criminal records to combat employment barriers and facilitate successful reentry.
Sabrina Talukder, Equal Justice Works Fellow (2014). Sabrina Talukder identified and represented non-citizen survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. Sabrina conducted outreach at Rikers Island Correctional Facility, and represented clients in their criminal defense proceedings, as well as with immigration matters.
Application and Hiring Timeline:
Application Period Opens: Our Application period typically begins in April for each year, so please check our website under “Careers and Diversity” for the Fellowship Job Posting and the requirements for proposal submissions. Please note: Timelines may be subject to change depending upon the number of applications we receive.
The next cycle will open in early April for 2020 Fellowships.
Deadlines for submissions will be in late May 2019.
All submissions must be complete so please read our FAQ’s before beginning the application process.
Interview Period and Decisions: Interviews will be conducted in late May – early June 2019 with decisions by early to mid-July. Applicants may be required to attend an in-person interview with the Fellowship Committee.
LAW STUDENT INTERNSHIPS AND COLLEGE STUDENT INTERNSHIPS
The Legal Aid Society has an extensive internship program for law students in the Civil, Criminal and Juvenile Rights Practices. Many staff attorneys at the Society are former law school interns.
In partnership with The Legal Aid Society and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys which represents the Society’s staff attorneys, the Attorneys of Color Caucus at Legal Aid (ACLA) is leading a new pilot mentoring project for law student interns of color. The goal of this project is to enhance our recruitment of diverse law student interns and staff attorneys. ACLA pairs law students with mentors who are staff attorneys of color, who can provide participating student interns with support during their internships at Legal Aid and in the recruitment process.
Intern Applicants for the Civil Practice, Criminal Defense Practice, and Juvenile Rights Practice areas must apply online at the LAS Recruitment Portal. The Legal Aid Society is reducing its carbon footprint and therefore paper applications are not accepted. Applications submitted without all the required materials will not be processed.
Offers for Fall Semester, Spring Semester, and Summer law student internships will be made on a rolling basis during each hiring period. Therefore, law student internship applicants are encouraged to apply at the beginning of the hiring period.
The Society also offers an Intern Investigator Program that provides undergraduate and graduate students interested in the law as a career with an exciting, hands-on, in-the-field experience.
The alumni of The Legal Aid Society can be found in various positions in the Judiciary, government, and private law firms and businesses. A significant number of the Society’s alumni lawyers are also law school deans and professors, including professors in clinical programs.
Currently, more than 30 alumni are serving as members of the Judiciary, including in the federal courts, the New York State Court of Appeals and Appellate Division, the New York State Supreme Court, and the New York City Civil, Criminal, Family, and Housing Courts. Other alumni have served or are serving as legislators, counsel to governmental agencies, commissioners of State and City departments, and senior officials in City and State administrations and in the State Attorney General’s Office.