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National Director of Legal Services

Req ID: 7211
Location: Chicago - Loop
# of Openings: 1
FT/PT: Full time
Employment Type: Regular
Salary Schedule: Grade 111
Job Notes:


The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), a program of Heartland Alliance, has a 30+ year track record of successful legal representation for vulnerable immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.  NIJC is a leading human rights organization dedicated to providing quality legal services to low-income immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. NIJC is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, has an office in Goshen and Indianapolis, Indiana, San Diego, California, Washington, DC and works in Laredo, Texas with partners. NIJC provides legal services to individuals detained in remote areas of the country.  NIJC has a strong management team that focus on various populations:  immigrant children, asylum seekers, LGBT individuals, detained individuals, survivors of gender violence, including human trafficking, and individuals seeking family unification. NIJC provides legal information to the immigrant community and their families to prevent exploitation by individuals engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and to empower individuals to make informed decisions on their legal options.  NIJC leverages support from a large pro bono network. 



The National Director of Legal Services will manage and support NIJC’s legal services management team. The director will work with the legal team to set priorities and identify opportunities to respond to community needs. The director of legal services will assess the present and future immigration landscape to identify opportunities for the delivery of quality legal services consistent with NIJC’s strategic plan. The director will participate in and guide the organization’s handling of individual matters and identify issues ripe for impact litigation, policy reform and strategic communications. The director will ensure that NIJC’s legal team is sufficiently nimble to react quickly to new threats and opportunities to immigrant rights. The director will be responsible for collaboration with law schools, legal aid and national human and immigrant rights organizations, community groups, and elected officials to advance legal services for immigrants. The director of legal services serves on the senior leadership team to assure the highest level of quality and access to NIJC’s full continuum of services; model NIJC’s vision and mission and achieve the organization’s strategic objectives. The director will collaborate with NIJC’s technology team to identify innovative ways to deliver legal services using technology.  This role requires exceptional interpersonal, management, strategic leadership, and partnership skills combined with creativity, administrative aptitude, and critical-thinking abilities. This role will build on NIJC’s history as a leader in the delivery of quality legal services and community education to promote immigrant rights and access to justice.



The Director of Legal Services will report to the Executive Director.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Adhere to the principles set forth in NIJC’s strategic plan to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Direct, support and manage the associate directors and managers of each project responsible for the delivery of NIJC’s legal services.
  • Ensure priorities and operating procedures are established and met to deliver strategic outcomes.
  • Contribute to positive, focused, determined, collaborative, entrepreneurial and high-expectation attitude and atmosphere.
  • Identify legal services’ priorities based on the immigration landscape, NIJC’s capacity/expertise, and unmet community needs.
  • Contribute to the implementation of NIJC’s strategic plan, including populations served and/or geographic locations.
  • Oversee the development of relationships with pro bono partners, including new opportunities for collaboration.
  • Maintain and establish strong relationships with colleagues at other legal aid organizations.
  • Represent NIJC’s Legal Service Team at outside events, including with high-profile officials and/or funders.
  • Assist in the development of legal program grant proposals.
  • Ensure systems to monitor and evaluate programs are accurate and provide necessary information.
  • Ensure program accessibility for clients seeking legal services and support.
  • Oversee the development of community and systems change partnerships to ensure that a wide range of resources are responsive and available to meet client needs.
  • Identify opportunities for high-impact legal action.
  • Responsible for training programs, as needed, for new NIJC attorneys.
  • Identify priorities within the legal services program consistent with the strategic plan and allocate resources accordingly.
  • Partner with NIJC’s development and communications team to promote NIJC’s legal services to funders and national entities.
  • Ensure balance between legal presentations to the community and legal representation.
  • Contribute to the authorship of training and educational materials to promote immigrant rights.
  • Review team reports and analyze data as necessary to ensure compliance, identify outcomes and access trends.
  • Understand current spending relative to budget allocation for each projects, i.e. professional development and translator/interpreter budgets.



To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Management experience, including an understanding of team leadership and a commitment to building and maintaining a multi-disciplinary team of professional excellence.
  • J.D., bar admission, and a minimum of 8 years of immigration law practice experience are required for this position.
  • Strong leadership qualities including an ability to build productive relationships with staff, clients, community partners, pro bono partners including law enforcement, court personnel, judges, and prosecutors.
  • Broad knowledge of and experience in immigration law and the delivery of direct legal services.
  • Experience working with pro bono attorneys and law students
  • Demonstrated ability to supervise and foster growth in other attorneys.
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills.
  • Excellent legal research and analysis skills.
  • Strong organizational skills, including the ability to manage multiple tasks at once, respond to tight timelines, pay attention to detail, and operate effectively in a fast-paced environment.
  • Strong leadership, relationship development, collaborative, and team building skills.
  • Bilingual/bicultural background highly desirable.






Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Frequently required to sit, stand and walk


Work Environment: 

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.



  • Competitive salary
  • Robust benefits package


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