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Director of Post Conviction Litigation

Innocence Project

Innocence Project

New York, NY, USA
Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2024

Director of Post Conviction Litigation

ABOUT THE INNOCENCE PROJECT

The Innocence Project works to free the innocent, prevent wrongful convictions, and create fair, compassionate, and equitable systems of justice for everyone. Our work is guided by science and grounded in anti-racism. Since our inception, the Innocence Project has used DNA and other scientific advancements to prove wrongful conviction. To date, we have helped to free or exonerate more than 200 people who, collectively, spent more than 3,600 years behind bars. Our efforts have led to the passage of more than 200 transformative state laws and federal reforms. Today, the Innocence Project continues to fight for freedom, drive structural change, and advance the innocence movement. To learn more, please visit www.innocenceproject.org.

ABOUT THE POSITION

The Director of Post-Conviction Litigation oversees one of the Innocence Project’s core goals—freeing the innocent—by managing a team of attorneys, paralegals, administrative support staff, fellows and interns who, together, represent individuals whose innocence can be proven through, inter alia, post-conviction DNA testing. The Director of Post-Conviction Litigation does not carry a case docket but coordinates and occasionally drafts amicus support on important innocence issues in other cases nationally in partnership with the Director of Special Litigation and Director of Strategic Litigation.

To support PCL work, the Innocence Project runs a clinical program in partnership with Cardozo Law School (the “Clinic”). The Clinic is overseen by the Director of Special Litigation, supervised by a PCL senior staff attorney, and co-taught by several PCL staff attorneys. Eighteen law students participate in the Clinic annually.

As the head of the PCL Department, the Director of Post-Conviction Litigation is responsible for the overall management and supervision of the team (which presently includes seven attorneys, five paralegals, three fellows and two administrative staff). In this capacity, the Director of Post-Conviction Litigation is responsible for: a) defining, driving, and implementing departmental strategy and goals; b) exercising departmental and organizational leadership by effectively managing department staff so that they are aligned, focused, motivated, and high-performing, and by nurturing professional growth; c) providing ongoing case oversight to ensure outstanding client representation; d) reporting on department progress, and e) modeling the Innocence Project’s values of an inclusive and respectful workplace and encouraging the same from staff.

The Director of Post-Conviction Litigation will report directly to the Chief Program Officer. The Director of Post-Conviction Litigation will work collaboratively with the Director of Special Litigation who is a member of the PCL Team and also reports to the Chief Program Officer. The Director of Special Litigation provides thought-partnership, expertise, advice, and institutional insight on the IP’s exoneration work, including on departmental strategic plan initiatives. The Director of Post-Conviction Litigation will also work collaboratively with the IP’s other programmatic leaders (including the Directors of Intake & Case Evaluation, Strategic Litigation, Policy, Social Work, and Data Science and Research).

We are interested in every qualified candidate who is eligible to work in the United States. However, we are not able to sponsor visas and we are not an e-verify employer.

The duties of this position require approximately 40 hours of work per week to be performed virtually/in-office. We currently have a hybrid in-office model, with all employees in the office three days per week and the remainder of the week remotely. Wednesday is our organization’s “anchor day” where all staff works in the office. The number of required in-office days is subject to change.

THE IDEAL CANDIDATE

The ideal candidate is an experienced attorney with a highly sophisticated understanding of the criminal legal system and demonstrated experience leading and mentoring a team of attorneys and legal professionals. They are collaborative and strategic, with experience working in a dynamic cross-departmental environment. They bring excellent project management and organizational skills to their work.

In addition, all Innocence Project employees must embrace, respect and value the rich diversity of perspectives and experience of a diverse and heterogeneous staff. We recognize and appreciate that our work is better for having varied participants and thought partners. The ideal candidate is someone who thrives in this type of environment.

ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS

MANAGE THE POST-CONVICTION LITIGATION PRACTICE

  • Hire, train and support staff attorneys providing high-quality, client-centered legal representation in potential and actual innocence cases; provide ongoing supervision including docket management, legal strategy, reviewing and editing of legal filings, and ongoing skills development.
  • Project manage, oversee and collaborate with other Department Heads on new and ongoing operations initiatives within and outside the department, including the implementation of a new case management system, file management, memorializing departmental policy, etc.
  • Collaborate with the Intake Department to identify and review new cases and ensure efficient transition of cases from Intake staff to PCL attorneys; and with the Data Science and Research Department to ensure compliance with data collection and case closing protocols.
  • Revise and refine screening criteria for cases accepted for representation as necessary.
  • Collaborate with the Director of Special Litigation, including on co-counseled cases with attorneys in PCL, strategic plan initiatives and training/docket reviews.
  • Collaborate with the Strategic Litigation Department, including on co-counseled cases, amicus briefs and matters relevant to both departments.
  • Provide legal advice and counsel to the Policy Department, as necessary, to ensure that advocates possess appropriate case/legal knowledge in state issue campaigns and maintain appropriate confidentiality/privilege.
  • Provide oversight and supervision to PCL attorneys to ensure excellence in the provision of all client services; provide timely and productive feedback, including but not limited to regular performance reviews; structure and guide professional development.
  • Hire, train and support, paralegals, administrative staff and, when appropriate, fellows and interns.
  • Create and maintain a robust training plan and onboarding process for new staff, with a focus on new attorneys.
  • Establish and oversee departmental budget, provide regular reports to Executive Director, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Program Officer and, as necessary, Board of Directors.

SERVE AS A THOUGHT LEADER ON INNOCENCE ISSUES & EXONERATIONS

  • Represent the Innocence Project at conferences, in the media and in other public presentations.
  • Serve on national, state and local commissions.
  • Coordinate, supervise and draft amicus briefs on issues of importance and interest to the Innocence Project, in partnership with the Chief Program Officer, Director of Special Litigation, Director of Strategic Litigation among others.
  • Manage relationships with members of the Innocence Network and other relevant organizations

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE

  • Attorney with active license and a minimum of fifteen (15) years of trial and/or appellate experience in criminal law required;
  • At least five years of post-conviction and/or innocence litigation expertise;
  • Highly sophisticated understanding of the criminal legal system
  • Skilled manager with at least five years of experience supervising lawyers and non-legal staff in a criminal defense practice and managing budgets
  • Must be legally authorized to work in the U.S.

KEY COMPETENCIES + VALUES

  • A demonstrated commitment to the work of the Innocence Project, criminal legal system reform and public interest lawyering
  • Demonstrated commitment to the Innocence Project’s values of diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Client-centered approach to legal representation
  • Demonstrated commitment to creating and sustaining a cooperative and productive work environment
  • Exercise exceptional discretion and judgment
  • Ability to work with a diverse and multidisciplinary staff in a collaborative and fast paced setting
  • Collaborative management style and demonstrated commitment to the value and power of teams and staff collegiality
  • Superior writing and editing skills, including drafting and editing complex briefs
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills
  • Leads by example, sharing, embodying and modeling the IP’s values of accountability, collaboration, equity, empathy and compassion, person-centeredness, quality focus, self-awareness

BENEFITS & PERKS

The Innocence Project offers an excellent benefits package, including fully-paid individual health, dental and vision insurance, Flexible Spending Account, 401k plan with 6% company-match, paid disability and family care leave, adoption and fertility expense reimbursements, and company-paid transportation benefits.

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

The Innocence Project considers the diversity of its workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its mission. We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. Individuals with personal connections to the criminal legal system are strongly encouraged to apply.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

To apply, please upload a cover letter expressing your interest in the role and the organization’s work, and a resume titled with your name in this format (last name_first name_cover letter/resume). Only applications with cover letters will be considered complete applications. Information submitted through this secure site is kept confidential. Due to the large volume of applications, we are unable to give applicant updates by phone or direct email.

**Applications for this position will be considered on a rolling basis until the post is filled.**

SALARY RANGE

$199,750 - $235,000 Salary commensurate with experience