National Immigrant Justice Center
Staff Attorney – Immigrant Children’s Protection Project
The National Immigrant Justice Center ( NIJC), a program of Heartland Alliance, provides direct legal services to, and advocates for, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through policy reform, impact litigation, and public education. Since its founding more than three decades ago, NIJC has been unique in blending individual client advocacy with broad-based systemic change. Headquartered in Chicago with offices in Washington, DC, Indiana and San Diego, NIJC’s team of 100+ attorneys, paralegals and professionals, along with 2,000 pro bono attorneys, is at the forefront of immigration reform.
This position provides legal representation and counseling to detained and non-detained unaccompanied immigrant children before U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Chicago Immigration Court. A Staff Attorney also advocates for clients before other government administrative agencies and before other service agencies, as needed and/or as appropriate.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
- Conducts preliminary intake interviews. Gathers all relevant facts for each case for presentation at team meetings or to legal supervisors. Makes assessments of income eligibility, if applicable, and makes appropriate referrals for those individuals not eligible for NIJC services. Recommends exceptions to financial guidelines to supervisors when appropriate.
- Develops and implements case strategy in terms of immigration law and procedure.
- Prepares cases for interviews and/or hearings, drafting legal cover letters and briefs, engaging in negotiation, presenting evidence, etc., in accord with the Code of Professional Responsibility for the legal profession.
- Provides Know Your Rights presentations to detained children.
- Carries a volume of work as required by the project.
- Remains current on immigration law, policies and procedures. Remains current on criminal and civil law as they apply to the representation of immigrants and refugees.
- Develops and maintains professional relationships with all stakeholders, including with representatives of government agencies, the Immigration Court, and family members and caretakers of clients.
- Interprets immigration laws and governmental policies and programs for the public, including at outreach and public speaking events.
- In accord with the ethical standards required of the legal profession, the Code of Professional Responsibility, preserves client confidentiality, accounts for client monies, and avoids conflicts of interest.
- Maintains complete and accurate client records. Ensures timely entry of all statistical data into databases/servers. Conducts independent and team case audits.
- Participates in training on immigration law and procedures as assigned by legal supervisors. May conduct trainings as assigned by legal supervisors, as well.
- Participates in developing and implementing special projects. Such projects could include presentations on certain legal issues, problems, topics, or developments in immigration law, or new initiatives within the project relating to representation of individual clients or groups of clients.
- Identifies trends and recurring legal and social concerns. Recommends strategies for solutions and other needed advocacy.
- Interprets for NIJC clients and staff and translates documents and other materials as needed.
- Adheres to professional standards as outlined by governmental bodies, private funding sources, NIJC plans/policies, and project guidelines. Participates in periodic evaluative reviews and/or in-house and external staff trainings to ensure understanding of and adherence to such standards. Requests assistance or guidance from legal supervisors as needed to address new issues or complex concepts affecting adherence to professional standards.
- Other duties may be assigned.
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.
- Education and/or Experience: Juris Doctorate Degree required. One year of direct experience in legal representation preferred.
- Language Skills: Ability to read, analyze, and interpret case law, statutes, governmental regulations, professional journals, and other forms of legal writing. Ability to write legal briefs, cover letters, procedural guidelines, and professional emails and other correspondence. Ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from co-workers, managers, clients, and the general public. Ability to read, speak, and write in Spanish. Additional non-English language skills are preferred.
- Driving: May be required to have a current, valid IL Driver’s License. May be required to drive their own vehicle and/or an Organization vehicle to and from sites.
- Mathematical Skills: Ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in all units of measure, using whole numbers, common fractions, and decimals. Ability to compute rate, ratio, and percent and to draw and interpret bar graphs.
- Reasoning Ability: Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations where only limited standardization exists. Ability to interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form.
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.
- While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.
- The employee is frequently required to stand; walk; sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and reach with hands and arms.
- The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds.
- Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and ability to adjust focus.
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.
Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions, and operates all programs, services, and functions without regard to race, receipt of an order of protection, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, amnesty, physical or mental disability, protected veterans status, genetic information, sexual orientation, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, use of FMLA, VESSA, military, and family military rights, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September 1987