The Bronx Defenders

Family Defense Practice Staff Attorney (Entry Level and Lateral)

Posted Date 2 months ago(4/25/2024 3:44 PM)
Job ID


The Bronx Defenders (BxD) – an innovative, progressive, holistic indigent defense office in the South Bronx – seeks passionate attorneys with a commitment to public defense to join our Family Defense Practice


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 change at the local, state, and national levels. We take what we learn from the clients and communities that we serve and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change.


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 but not limited to custody, visitation, and termination of parental rights.


  • Engage in intensive client interviewing, counseling, research, writing, oral advocacy and negotiations as part of legal representation
  • Zealously represent parents in child protective proceedings in Bronx Family Court and any concurrent matters including but not limited to custody, visitation, and termination of parental rights cases
  • Litigate legal matters in abuse and neglect proceedings in hearings and trials in family court - orally and in writing
  • Effectively communicate and negotiate with judges, caseworkers, child attorneys, and representatives of the Administration for Children’s Services on behalf of parents
  • Assist parents in accessing appropriate resources and services to restore full parental rights
  • Participate in internal working groups to develop best practices across referral relationships
  • Participate in trainings within the office as well as, on occasion, external community events, conferences and webinars in which BXD is participating or presenting
  • Collaborate with social workers and parent advocates in the Family Defense Practice, as well as attorneys and advocates in the criminal defense, civil action and immigration practice on enmeshed issues that arise in other venues
  • Collaborate to provide coverage for cases to ensure that all client needs are met
  • Maintain client case files and data in BxD’s case management system


To be eligible, candidates must be:


  • Graduate of an American Bar Association-accredited law school OR
  • Barred attorney with the ability to practice in New York or to be barred upon hiring


Applicants must demonstrate:


  • Commitment to directly defending parents charged with abuse and/or neglect in child welfare proceedings 
  • 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 
  • Ability to work well 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 clients
  • Effective research, writing and courtroom advocacy skills
  • Strong analytical skills and capacity to employ non-legal resources in cases
  • 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, finding innovative solutions to unique obstacles
  • Ability to receive constructive feedback, demonstrate introspection and shift behavior accordingly
  • Ability to exercise excellent judgment, discretion, and confidentiality with sensitive matters
  • Commitment to raising one’s cultural consciousness and challenging oppressive practices on an interpersonal and institutional level


Preferred, but not required:


  • Spanish language proficiency
  • Experience working in the child welfare system, in the field of Family Law, or a related field


Applicants, if hired, must:


  • Sit for the New York State Bar Examination (if applicable at the time) or
  • Submit the alternative appropriate materials necessary for admission or waiver


This is a primarily in-person position that will require contact with staff and community members.


Salary is commensurate with experience.  For candidates with 1-10 years of directly relevant experience, the salary range for this position would be approximately $75,000- $98,000. 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. 


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.  


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.  If selected for the position, your resume will be used to determine your salary based on your number of years of directly relevant professional experience; we therefore encourage you to ensure it is up to date. 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 form—will not be considered.


Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 28, 2024. Please contact Nicole Velazquez, Deputy Director of the Family Defense 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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