Director of Post Conviction Litigation
Job Details
Senior
Innocence Project - New York, NY
Full Time
Juris Doctor (JD)
$178,500.00 - $210,000.00 Salary/year
Job Summary

ABOUT THE INNOCENCE PROJECT

The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to assist the wrongly convicted who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. The Innocence Project’s groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the Innocence Project’s mission is to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment. To learn more, please visit www.innocenceproject.org.

ABOUT THE POSITION

The Director of Post-Conviction Litigation oversees one of the Innocence Project’s core goals—freeing the innocent—by managing a team of attorneys, paralegals, fellows and/or interns who represent individuals whose innocence can be proven through, inter alia, post-conviction DNA testing. The PCL Director also coordinates amicus support on important innocence issues in other cases nationally.

To support PCL work, the Innocence Project runs a clinical program in partnership with Cardozo Law School (the “Clinic”). The Clinic is overseen by the Director of Special Litigation, supervised by a PCL staff attorney, and co-taught by several PCL staff attorneys. Eighteen law students participate in the Clinic annually.

As the head of the PCL Department, the Director is responsible for the overall management and supervision of the team (which presently includes five attorneys, four paralegals, and two administrative staff). In this capacity, the Director of Post-Conviction Litigation is responsible for: a) defining, driving, and implementing departmental strategy and goals; b) exercising departmental and organizational leadership by effectively managing department staff so that they are aligned, focused, motivated, and high-performing, and by nurturing professional growth; c) providing ongoing case oversight to ensure outstanding client representation; d) reporting on department progress, and e) modeling the Innocence Project’s values of an inclusive and respectful workplace and encouraging the same from staff.

The PCL Director will report directly to the Chief Program Strategy Officer. The PCL Director will work collaboratively with the Director of Special Litigation and Senior Litigation Counsel—both of whom are members of the PCL Team but are not direct reports of the PCL Director—who provide thought-partnership, advice, and institutional insight. The PCL Director will also work collaboratively with the IP’s other programmatic leaders (including the Directors of Intake, Strategic Litigation, Policy, and Science and Research).

The PCL Director is a member of the IP’s Litigation Policy Leadership team.

This position is full time and requires 40 hours of work per week. 

ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS

MANAGE THE POST-CONVICTION LITIGATION PRACTICE 

  • Hire, train and support staff attorneys providing high-quality legal representation in potential and actual innocence cases; provide ongoing supervision including docket management, legal strategy, reviewing and editing of legal filings, and ongoing skills development

  • Collaborate with the Intake Department to identify and review new cases and ensure efficient transition of cases from Intake staff to PCL attorneys; and with the Science and Research Department to ensure compliance with data collection and case closing protocols

  • Revise and refine screening criteria for cases accepted for representation as necessary.

  • Collaborate, as necessary, with the Innocence Project’s Strategic Litigation Department, including on co-counseled cases and on matters relevant to both departments. 

  • Provide legal advice and counsel to the Policy Department, as necessary, to ensure that advocates have appropriate legal knowledge in state issue campaigns 

  • Provide oversight and supervision to PCL senior staff attorneys and staff attorneys to ensure excellence in the provision of all client services; provide timely and productive feedback, inclusive but not limited to regular performance reviews; structure and guide professional development 

  • Hire, train and support attorneys, paralegals, administrative staff and, when appropriate, fellows and interns 

  • Establish and oversee departmental budget, provide regular reports to Executive Director, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Program Strategy Officer and, as necessary, Board of Directors

  • Exercise exceptional discretion and judgment

SERVE AS A THOUGHT LEADER ON INNOCENCE ISSUES & EXONERATIONS:

  • Represent the Innocence Project at conferences, in the media and other public education 

  • Serve on national, state and local commissions 

  • Coordinate, supervise and draft amicus briefs on issues of importance and interest to the Innocence Project 

  • Manage relationships with members of the Innocence Network and other relevant organizations

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE

  • Attorney with active license and a minimum of fifteen (15) years of trial and/or appellate experience in criminal law required;

  • Strong record of post-conviction litigation expertise; 

  • Highly sophisticated understanding of the criminal legal system 

  • Skilled manager with at least five years of experience supervising lawyers and non-legal staff in a criminal practice and managing budgets

KEY COMPETENCIES

  • A demonstrated commitment to the work of the Innocence Project, criminal justice reform and public interest lawyering

  • Demonstrated commitment to the Innocence Project’s values of diversity, equity and inclusion

  • Client-centered approach to legal representation

  • Demonstrated commitment to creating and sustaining a cooperative and productive work environment

  • Ability to work with a diverse and multidisciplinary staff in a collaborative and fast paced setting

  • Collaborative management style and demonstrated commitment to the value and power of teams and staff collegiality  

  • Superior writing and editing skills, including drafting and editing complex briefs;

  • Outstanding interpersonal skills

COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS

The salary for this position is highly competitive and the Innocence Project offers an excellent benefits package, including health, dental and vision insurance, Flexible Spending Account, 401k plan with company-match.  While the office is currently remote in consideration of the ongoing pandemic, once commuting into the office (located in downtown Manhattan, New York) becomes again viable we will also offer company-paid transportation benefits.

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

The Innocence Project considers the diversity of its workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its mission.  We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. Individuals with personal connections to the criminal legal system are strongly encouraged to apply.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

Please upload a cover letter expressing your interest in the role and the organization’s work, and a resume titled with your name (last name. first name. cover letter/resume). Only applications with cover letters will be considered complete applications. Information submitted through this secure site is kept confidential. Due to the large volume of applications, we are unable to give applicant updates by phone or direct email. 

**Applications for the Director of Post Conviction Litigation position will be considered on a rolling basis until the post is filled.**

About the Organization
The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to assist the wrongly convicted who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. The Innocence Project's groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the Innocence Project's mission is to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment. To learn more, please visit www.innocenceproject.org.
Commitment to Diverse and Inclusive Staffing
The Innocence Project believes that diversity of our workforce is vital to meeting our mission. We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. We also strongly encourage applicants with personal or family experience with the criminal justice system and/or incarceration to apply.
Equal Opportunity Employment
As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.
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