Civil Action Practice Housing Staff Attorney - The Bronx Defenders

The Bronx Defenders (BxD)—an innovative, progressive, holistic indigent defense office in the South Bronx—seeks a passionate attorney committed to housing defense to work as a Housing Staff Attorney.


The Bronx Defenders is a public defender non-profit that is radically transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the legal system, and, in doing so, is transforming the system itself. BxD seeks thoughtful, creative, energetic individuals with a strong commitment to social justice to join our dynamic and diverse staff. Our staff of over 400 includes interdisciplinary teams made up of criminal, civil, immigration, and family defense attorneys, as well as social workers, benefits specialists, legal advocates, parent advocates, investigators, and team administrators, who collaborate to provide holistic advocacy to address the causes and consequences of legal system involvement. Through this integrated team-based structure, we have developed a groundbreaking, nationally-recognized model of representation called holistic defense that achieves better outcomes for the people we defend.


Each year, we defend more than 20,000 low-income Bronx residents in criminal, civil, child welfare, and immigration cases, and reach thousands more through our community intake, youth mentoring, and outreach programs. Through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community organizing, we push for systemic reform at the local, state, and national levels. We take what we learn from the people we represent and communities that we work with and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change.


Civil Action Practice


The Civil Action Practice (CAP) provides comprehensive legal services to the people we represent and their families by fully integrating civil representation with our criminal, immigration, and family defense practices. Our goal is to minimize the severe and often unforeseen fallout from legal system involvement and facilitate the seamless reintegration of the people we represent into their communities.

Our Civil Action Practice attorneys and legal advocates represent people in every forum in New York City – administrative, state, and federal – to address these problems, and provide comprehensive representation to assist people in overcoming civil legal barriers to housing, eviction, employment, and public benefits, as well as addressing instances of police misconduct, criminal record errors, and civil forfeiture.   


Housing Justice & the Right to Counsel 


Recognizing the challenges to accessing affordable, quality and safe housing in New York City, The Bronx Defenders has a team exclusively dedicated to providing tenants at risk of losing their homes with defense attorneys for their Housing Court cases. Our Right to Counsel Housing Team was developed in response to the 2017 New York City Right-to-Counsel initiative, which provides tenants facing eviction in Housing Court, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) administrative proceedings and other civil fora with access to free legal representation. Our team works with civil social workers and benefits specialists to supplement their legal defenses and provide additional services, support and resources, committed to a Housing First perspective--an approach to homelessness that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness quickly, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. As a provider of the Right to Counsel in the Bronx, we regularly staff in-court intake. The Bronx Defenders is part of the NYC Right to Counsel Coalition.

The Civil Action Practice seeks a staff attorney to focus on housing justice and to advance its Right to Counsel in Housing Court work.

  • Advise, support and defend individuals navigating proceedings related to eviction, termination, barriers to obtaining housing and other housing-related proceedings
  • Staff Housing Court intake to provide representation to tenants in Housing Court
  • Advise and represent the people we represent in intake with housing related issues 
  • Represent individuals in negotiations, administrative and judicial proceedings and trials
  • Collaborate with immigration, criminal and family defense attorneys, advocates, benefits advisors and social workers to assess and address housing needs of the people we represent and the Bronx community
  • Staff Community Housing Helpline
  • Participate in community training and public education
  • Enter and maintain accurate client data and files, information and notes regarding advocacy and representation in case management system 
  • Help identify the systemic problems that affect the people we represent while thinking creatively about new strategies and solutions for strategic change

To be eligible, applicants must have:

  • J.D. and sit for the upcoming New York State Bar Exam, or
  • Admitted to practice in New York or eligibility for admission to the New York State Bar Pro Hac Vice

To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate: 

  • Commitment to challenging systemic injustice
  • Commitment to defending people ensnared in the housing legal system
  • Experience working in and with racially, ethnically and socioeconomically marginalized communities 
  • Ability to effectively and respectfully communicate, collaborate and connect with people with various backgrounds, identities and experiences 
  • Commitment to fierce advocacy, and willingness to strategically challenge authority in defense of the people we represent
  • Strong verbal and written advocacy skills
  • Strong legal analytical skills as well as capacity to explore non-legal resources and solutions
  • Ability to work well independently as well as collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team of lawyers and non-lawyers
  • Ability to multitask, maintain order and meet deadlines in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment 
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Ability to think critically and creatively in fast-paced settings
  • Ability to receive constructive feedback, demonstrate introspection and shift behavior accordingly
  • Ability to exercise good judgment, discretion, and confidentiality with sensitive matters
  • Commitment to raising one’s cultural consciousness and challenging oppressive practices on an interpersonal and institutional level
  • Spanish fluency is preferred but not required 

This is a hybrid position that will require in-person work and contact with staff and community members. As of October 29, 2021, all city-funded employees with any potential of in-person contact with the people we represent, community members or staff are required to show proof of full vaccination. You can find more details regarding this mandate here. Please let us know if this presents an issue.

Approximately 70% of The Bronx Defenders' staff, including attorneys and non-attorneys, are represented by UAW Local 2325 - Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (AFL-CIO). This position is within the bargaining unit. 

This position is exempt. By law, nonexempt employees are compensated hourly based on their annual rate and therefore are entitled to over-time, whereas exempt employees are not. 

Salary is commensurate with experience.  For candidates with 1-10 years of directly relevant experience, the salary range for this position would be approximately $72,865 to $94,350. Full-time employees are also eligible for a comprehensive benefits package including but not limited to medical, dental and vision coverage; a 403(b) plan with employer contribution; a generous vacation, sick leave, and parental leave policy. More specific information about salary and benefits will be provided when and if an offer is extended.  

To apply, please click APPLY TO THIS JOB ONLINE and upload your resume and a cover letter in one document when prompted. If writing a cover letter is not accessible to you, you may upload your resume as a document and separately upload a video or audio statement instead of a cover letter if that is more accessible to you. Your cover letter or video/audio statement should share why you want to do this work at our office, some key lived and/or professional experiences that have prepared you for this position, and any additional information you would like for us to consider. Your cover letter may be up to one page if written or up to 3 minutes if an audio/video statement. This information allows us to understand your distinct perspective, experience and potential beyond the work history summarized on your resume. Please remember that you may submit a written cover letter or an audio/video, but not both, and applications without either will not be considered. The start date for this position is immediate or as soon as possible.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Please contact Runa Rajagopal, Managing Director, Civil Action Practice, via email at with any questions regarding the position.

The Bronx Defenders is an equal opportunity employer and is cultivating an anti-oppressive workplace that embraces staff with a diversity of backgrounds, identities, and experiences. We acknowledge the ways in which systemic oppression and injustice can undermine access to professional opportunities and are committed to conducting hiring and promotion processes that are equitable and accessible to those commonly excluded from the workforce. We do not discriminate against and in fact specifically encourage applicants from marginalized communities to apply, including those who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color, queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, disabled, neurodivergent, and those directly impacted by criminal, civil, family and immigration legal systems. We value lived as well as professional experience and particularly welcome applications from the Bronx community that we work with.

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