The Bronx Defenders

The Bronx Defenders Pro Bono Scholarship Program

Posted Date 2 months ago(4/9/2024 2:57 PM)
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The Bronx Defenders – an innovative, progressive, holistic indigent defense office in the South Bronx – seeks passionate third-year (3L) law students committed to public defense to join our Criminal Defense, Family Defense, Civil Action and Immigration Practices as Pro Bono Scholars for Spring 2025. 


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 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, family regulation, 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 change at the local, state, and national levels. We take what we learn from the people we represent and communities we work with and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change. 


The Pro Bono Scholars Program 


The Pro Bono Scholars Program represents a partnership among the Judiciary, law schools, and the profession with the goal of revitalizing the legal education system to adapt to our society’s changing needs. This new option in legal education better assists students in preparing for the actual practice of law, impresses upon them the value of public service at the start of their careers, and provides much-needed assistance to those of limited means. 


Students who are accepted into the Pro Bono Scholars Program will spend 12 weeks working full-time in a pro bono placement, while also completing an academic component at their law school. Students will have the opportunity to develop quality mentorships and receive invaluable practical training under the supervision of both a practicing lawyer and a faculty member. Students who complete the program will also be permitted to take the New York Bar Examination in February of their final year of study before they graduate. See here for more information from the New York Courts 


Pro Bono Scholars will assist Attorneys in every aspect of representation, including: 


  • preparing for hearings and trials 
  • interviewing witnesses and the people we represent 
  • conducting legal research 
  • writing legal motions and memoranda 
  • developing and reviewing evidence 
  • Participating in KYR presentation and supporting community-based litigation and advocacy 
  • connecting the people we represent with resources, and 
  • representing people in court, pursuant to the Student Practice Order   


Pro Bono Scholars will also have the opportunity to observe or co-counsel cases in venues, including Criminal Court, Civil Court, Family Court, Immigration Court and Administrative Hearings. You can find more information about our specific practice areas below. 


Criminal Defense Practice 


The Criminal Defense Practice (CDP) at The Bronx Defenders consists of over 150 attorneys, investigators, social workers, practice associates, and administrators who provide comprehensive criminal defense to people in the Bronx facing police and criminal legal system involvement. Through a client-centered approach, our CDP legal teams strive to gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances and priorities of the people we represent. Armed with that understanding, we fight for the people we represent by strategically raising personalized, persuasive arguments in mitigation, negotiations, and litigation. Candidates for this practice must demonstrate an interest in defending individuals charged with criminal offenses. 



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 – 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. Candidates for this practice must demonstrate an interest in defending individuals civil rights in areas concerning, but not limited to, housing, benefits, and employment matters.    



Family Defense Practice 


The Bronx Defenders’ Family Defense Practice (FDP) provides legal representation and social work support to parents charged with child abuse and neglect who are at risk of losing custody of their children. Our Family Defense Practice is at the forefront of a movement to provide holistic representation to parents in the Bronx while creating long-term solutions for the reunification and stability of families. Family Defense Practice Attorneys primarily litigate abuse and neglect cases, but occasionally appear in concurrent matters including custody, visitation, and termination of parental rights. Candidates for this practice must demonstrate an interest in defending parents charged with abuse and/or neglect with the goal of reunifying families. 



Immigration Practice 


Twenty years ago, The Bronx Defenders developed the model of integrated criminal defense and immigration representation. Our immigration teams work closely with non-citizens throughout the pendency of their cases in both Criminal and Family Court to avoid and mitigate negative immigration consequences that may arise from those cases. Our Immigration staff represent people in deportation proceedings in both detained and non-detained settings, provide affirmative immigration services, and pursue community-based litigation and advocacy aimed at transforming unforgiving anti-immigrant federal laws and policy. The Immigration Practice consists of approximately 60 staff members including attorneys, social workers, legal advocates, and administrators.  


Since 2013, our immigration attorneys have also worked as assigned counsel at the Varick Street Immigration Court under the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the first-ever universal representation project in immigration court. Candidates for this practice must demonstrate an interest in defending non-citizens charged with criminal offenses in immigration proceedings  



To be eligible, candidates must be: 


  • Third-year (3L) law students at an American Bar Association-accredited law school 
  • Registered for the Pro Bono Scholars Program   


Candidates must demonstrate: 


  • Commitment to directly defending people ensnared in criminal, family, immigration, and civil legal systems 
  • Commitment to challenging systemic injustice and carceral systems  
  • Experience working in and with racially and ethnically marginalized communities of color targeted by systemic injustice 
  • Ability to effectively and respectfully communicate, collaborate and connect with people from various backgrounds and experiences 
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team of lawyers and non-lawyers  
  • Commitment to fierce advocacy and willingness to strategically challenge authority in defense of the people we represent 
  • Effective research, writing, and courtroom advocacy skills 
  • Strong legal analytical skills and capacity to employ non-legal resources to support the people we represent 
  • 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 setting, finding innovative solutions to unique obstacles 
  • Ability to receive constructive feedback, demonstrate introspection, and shift behavior accordingly 
  • Ability to exercise good judgment, discretion, and confidentiality around sensitive issues 
  • Commitment to raising one’s cultural consciousness and challenging oppressive practices on an interpersonal and institutional level 


Note that in the Immigration Practice, we are specifically seeking applications from candidates with Spanish language skills and/or those from racially/ethnically marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by the immigration system whose lived experiences contribute to more culturally conscious client representation. 


To apply, please click APPLY TO THIS JOB ONLINE and upload your resume and a cover letter in one document when prompted. If you would prefer to send in a video or audio statement in lieu of a cover letter, you may upload your resume as a document and separately upload a video or audio statement instead of a cover letter. 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 statement, but not both, and applications without a cover letter—in either written or video/audio form—will not be considered. The start date for this position would be Spring 2025. 


Applications will be accepted through August 31, 2024. Those selected for interviews will be contacted directly for scheduling. Please contact Thanisha Pariage, Recruiting & Hiring Director, at with any questions regarding this 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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