Public Defender Association
LEAD – Racial Disparity Project Paralegal Position
The (PDA) is looking for a paralegal to assist the legal team. The legal team at PDA engages in direct representation, impact litigation, and policy advocacy. The legal team represents individuals in a broad spectrum of substantive areas and supports the work of other projects housed at PDA.
PDA advocates for justice system reform and develops alternatives that shift from a punishment paradigm to a system that supports individual and community health. Grounding reform in a public health and safety framework, PDA develops new strategies and implements models that improve on conventional responses to crime and public order issues. In collaboration with community and government partners, PDA uses policy advocacy, organizing, litigation, and public education to achieve its goals. The paralegal would principally work with the Policy & Legal Department, one of PDA’s four primary project areas:
- Civil Survival: Civil Survival organizes people who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system to build connections, gain knowledge, increase political participation, and provide legal advice and services to individuals post-conviction.
- Collective Justice: Collective Justice aims to reduce harm caused by violence and mass incarceration by building effective, trauma-informed healing responses that reflect healing justice principles.
- Let Everyone Advance with Dignity/Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): PDA houses the project management team for the LEAD program. LEAD is a community-based diversion approach with the goals of improving public safety and public order and reducing unnecessary criminal legal system involvement of people who participate in the program.
- Policy & Legal Department: PDA’s policy and legal department promotes responses to public health and safety challenges that address the needs and goals of communities most disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system. Current focus areas include police accountability, drug user health, and ending criminal-legal monetary sanctions.
The paralegal hired will work under the direction of the attorney assigned to the case, but will generally be supervised by the Legal Director. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to
Supporting all aspects of litigation by:
- Providing paralegal support for a wide range of federal, state, and administrative litigation, including impact litigation, appeals, and amicus briefs;
- Assisting in case management, including maintenance of electronic files, physical files, court records, and litigation calendars; anticipating and identifying potential litigation tasks and preparing accordingly;
- Formatting, preparing and proofreading correspondence, legal pleadings, briefs, memoranda, declarations, routine filings, and other documents independently and consistent with attorney instructions;
- Assisting in proper formatting of citations in legal filings;
- Filing documents with courts and ensuring proper service to all parties is conducted. This will involve research into the jurisdictional rules and processes with respect to filing and service;
- Assisting with the discovery process, including scheduling depositions, assisting with discovery requests and responses, organizing discovery, and preparing /filing pleadings and privilege logs;
- Assisting with management of the legal services intake process, including support with intake review, conflicts check searches, and data entry in legal services case management system;
- Communicating with clients and other parties, as necessary, whether in-person, through email, or via phone/zoom, to assess legal needs, conduct intakes, and otherwise gather information to assist in representation;
- Coordinating with clients and their other community supports to collect case documents, such as medical records, that will be utilized in legal representation;
- Independently researching and analyzing legal sources such as statutes, recorded judicial decisions, legal articles, treaties, constitutions, and legal codes to prepare legal documents, such as briefs, pleadings, appeals for review, approval, and use by attorneys;
- Preparing for and attending trial (organizing evidence and preparing exhibits);
- Obtaining court records information through online court portals, including the Judicial Access Browser System;
- Filing public disclosure requests for documents related to legal representation;
- Managing client case files (creating, organizing, tracking and maintaining files, and determining and calendaring deadlines);
- Conducting factual research; and
- Assisting with special projects and other clerical duties related to litigation and policy advocacy work within the organization.
Five to seven years prior experience as a litigation paralegal or legal assistant preferred. Certificate in Paralegal Studies preferred but those with relevant work experience are encouraged to apply.
- Knowledge and commitment to learn court filing protocols; legal terminology; legal forms, documents, and citation; and federal, state, and appellate court rules.
- Excellent writing and proofreading skills.
- Familiarity with criminal defense, family law, and housing law preferred.
- Demonstrated intermediate to advanced computer skills in Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, G-Suite email system, and Adobe Acrobat Pro, ability to conduct internet research, and ability to learn and master new software applications.
- Experience working in a paperless office environment. Prior experience in the organization of case files and documents in a cloud setting and ensuring compliance with an office’s organizational methodology to ensure accuracy in the maintenance of records.
- Experience working with clients with mental illness, substance use disorder, and other disabilities is highly preferred. The applicant should demonstrate an understanding and empathy with the stresses experienced by clients who are impacted by poverty, mental illness, unstable housing, substance use disorder, domestic strife, and other barriers. The ideal candidate will be skilled in helping these clients engage in their own representation through the principles of harm-reduction—meeting clients where they are, in a way that is responsive to their specific needs.
- Demonstrated cultural competence and sensitivity in working with diverse clients, communities, and colleagues.
- Desire to work collaboratively with the ability to work independently.
- Strong drive and initiative with the ability to manage time well in an environment of many concurrent assignments and deadlines.
- A willingness and desire to jump in and help on any project, to learn new skills, and to take ownership of assignments.
- Accurate and detail-oriented, with the ability to give and receive feedback effectively.
Seattle, WA; Work from home
PDA employees are primarily working remotely to reduce COVID-19 exposure, and work from home may continue after the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees working from home must have access to the internet but office equipment and supplies will be provided. Occasional in-person work may be required if necessary to provide legal services. If in-person work is required, PDA will provide all appropriate personal protective equipment.
Salary range is $56,973 to $74,337, depending on experience. Within the position salary range, salary increases 3% annually, subject to Board of Directors approval. An additional annual cost of living increase is provided at the discretion of the Board of Directors. Benefits include:
- 401k match of up to 4% of salary, beginning after six months of employment;
- Annual, 2% of salary, profit sharing contribution to 401k, provided in most years;
- Generous medical and dental benefits for employees and family members;15 days vacation, accrued annually, increasing to 24 days vacation, accrued annually;
- 2 personal/sick days, accrued annually;
- Unlimited ORCA card; and
- Monthly $50 employer cell phone contribution.
This is a Fair Labor Standards Act exempt, at-will position; continuation in the position depends on both performance and funding.
Equal Opportunity Employer
PDA is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and fosters an environment free of barriers and discriminatory practices. PDA actively promotes mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork and productivity. PDA is committed to maintaining an organization whose staff, Board and clients are diverse in background, experience, race, color, national origin, gender, age, religious affiliation, marital status, sexual identity, sensory, mental or physical abilities, veteran status, and other qualities that strengthen the program while reinforcing its commitment to basic fairness. People of color, those directly impacted by the criminal justice system, people who identify as queer, trans, lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and those with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Individuals needing a reasonable accommodation for the application or interview process should contact Prachi Dave at Prachi.firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Apply
Email your cover letter and resume to the following to Jamila Taylor at email@example.com by Friday, October 23, 2020 at 11:59 pm. Cover letter and email subject line should clearly reference “LEAD Paralegal”. Cover letter should include description of any past experience, personal or professional, with low income or other marginalized communities.