JOBS & VOLUNTEERING

 

Director, Civil Practice

The Veteran Advocacy Project (VAP) seeks an attorney to lead our civil legal services, overseeing and taking on housing & benefits cases, while working with the executive director to build out the practice area.

VAP provides free legal services to low-income veterans and their families, with a focus on those living with post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and substance use issues. We are partnered with VA hospitals, health clinics, and local veterans’ groups to reach veterans where they are. While our attorneys tackle the legal challenges, our advocates ensure that our clients are connected to appropriate social services. With a dedicated team, VAP enables veterans to regain their health and rebuild their lives.

Our small team is growing, with four main practice areas. Our criminal defense practice provides military mitigation expertise in capital cases around the country, and we are expanding our justice-involved services, addressing problems that arise at the intersection of civil, criminal, and veterans law issues. Our civil legal services are centered around homelessness prevention partnerships with social services agencies, along with several medical-legal partnerships. These collaborations are instrumental in our veterans law work before the VA and DOD. Our VA practice looks to fill the gaps by representing veterans in character of discharge determinations, overpayments, mental health disability compensation appeals, and apportionment issues. Finally, our DOD practice fights to correct unjust less-than-honorable discharges that brand a veteran for life and increase the likelihood of justice-involvement, suicide, and homelessness.

The common thread throughout our advocacy is that we fight for individuals who are living with mental health challenges. Our services provide access to health care and benefits, prevent incarceration and reduce contact with the justice system, keep veterans and their families in their homes, and empower veterans by removing barriers to success.

The director will coordinate staff advocacy to facilitate holistic services for clients, ensuring that civil legal services are integrated with the other practice areas of the organization. Management responsibilities will include setting case priorities, overseeing the advocate’s caseload, helping to shape the agency’s policy goals, ensuring training and professional development for staff, providing quarterly case reports for Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) grants, exploring new funding opportunities, and carrying a modified caseload. (We do not have any city-funded housing contracts that require minimum case counts, screening for zip codes, etc.) Candidates should have experience in housing court as well as general knowledge in the areas of consumer finance, child support, and government benefits.

Currently, we have a veterans law team and civil advocates, but we have no general civil legal services staff attorneys; goals for this position will include expanding the practice, assisting with fundraising to hire staff attorney(s), and setting the goals for a civil team along with the rest of VAP. This role will include case work in the beginning. It is not a supervisory-only position—though it can develop into that and we hope it will if that is the path the right candidate wants to take. There is a lot of freedom to shape the role and the work.

Individuals with military service, prior experience working with veterans, individuals with disabilities, women, people of color, and people from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

Responsibilities

  • Build and supervise a small team representing veterans in civil legal matters; ensure staff training, professional development, day-to-day operations and workflow; provide feedback and guidance on legal strategy and case management;
  • Represent a reduced caseload of clients in housing court and administrative hearings;
  • Conduct intake, training, and special events at partner organizations’ sites;
  • Provide telephone and/or written advice to clients as needed;
  • Research legal issues, with a focus on housing law and public benefits;
  • Work with the team on case strategies and integration of services to meet clients’ needs;
  • Identify and assist with fundraising opportunities to build out service capacity;
  • Track client information in our database, prepare reports for grants/funding sources, attend team meetings, as well as strategic meetings with the executive director, perform administrative tasks related to the work.

Qualifications

  • JD and current membership in good standing of the New York State Bar;
  • Minimum 5 years of experience in legal services;
  • Positive track record leading a team; confidence in managing a collaborative effort and ensuring all team members are heard;
  • Strong work ethic and ability to take initiative; efficacy in organizing and prioritizing;
  • Demonstrated proficiency in legal research; excellent analytical and critical thinking skills;
  • Efficient and meticulous attention to detail and deadlines;
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills, including a commitment to providing trauma-informed services; ability to work with people living with mental illness, substance use disorders, and traumatic brain injury;
  • Dedication to serving all clients, without regard to discharge status or justice involvement.

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience, with generous benefits package including health insurance with no employee contribution to premiums, dental/vision plans, 401K, and options for life insurance. Our office has one small physical location but we are all working remotely, in New York and across the country. Our target range for the salary is $90,000 to $110,000. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and legal writing sample to contact@veteranadvocacy.org with “director” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Veteran Advocacy Project, Inc., is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, immigration status, gender or gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, caregiver status, arrest or conviction record, unemployment status, predisposing genetic characteristics, survivor of domestic/intimate partner violence status, or marital or partnership status.

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Pro Bono

VAP welcomes partnerships with law firms that would like to take on pro bono cases. There is a great need for family law services, representation in housing court, and assistance with military discharge upgrades. To learn more about volunteering with VAP please email contact@veteranadvocacy.org.

Discharge Upgrade Clinic: When servicemembers leave the military their discharge status determines what benefits, if any, they will eligible to receive. A bad discharge can be a barrier to employment, benefits, and health care. Many of our servicemembers are given less than honorable discharges due to misconduct connected to mis- or undiagnosed post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. From 2011-2015, of the servicemembers who were discharged for misconduct, 62 percent had already been diagnosed with post traumatic stress or a a related mental health condition.   We are not only punishing injury, we are cutting them of from the very care they need to heal.

VAP is fighting to get these veterans the help they deserve. For firms who would like to take on cases, we have a “hands-on” approach that includes ongoing guidance, editing briefs, and coordinating moot hearings; we also have an online resource center with videos, sample applications, and more.

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Internships
Please see the opportunities below:
Legal

The Veteran Advocacy Project provides legal representation to low-income veterans and their families, with a focus on those living with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, substance use disorders, and other mental health issues.

Our practice covers Housing Court, VA claims, public benefits, military discharge upgrades, and more. We are seeking 2Ls and 3Ls with excellent analytical and critical thinking skills, demonstrated proficiency in legal research, and the ability to communicate well with others, including those living with mental illness. internships for our civil practice are available throughout the year. VAP participates in the PILC Fair for summer internships and slots are usually filled by the first or second week of February. If you are not applying through PILC, please submit an application before February 1.

For those interested in working on VA or DOD matters, please apply for a summer position, as veterans law cases are primarily assigned to law school clinic students during the spring and fall semesters.

Interns will participate in outreach and client interviews, represent veterans in administrative hearings, write legal memos, or assist in discharge upgrades or VA claims cases. They will be provided with training and supervision, including providing legal services with a trauma-informed approach.

Please send a resume and cover letter to contact@veteranadvocacy.org with the subject: “[Fall/Spring/Summer YYYY] Internship.” Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Veteran Advocacy Project, Inc., is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, immigration status, gender or gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, caregiver status, arrest or conviction record, unemployment status, predisposing genetic characteristics, survivor of domestic/intimate partner violence status, or marital or partnership status.

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Undergraduate
The Veteran Advocacy Project seeks interns to assist with legal services. Responsibilities range from direct client interaction to administrative work. The internship can be full- or part-time, and weekly hours are flexible. VAP will make every effort to support fellowship applications and other opportunities for funding so that income is not a barrier to an internship experience.

Responsibilities:

  • Interact with clients: intake, follow up interviews, assistance with paperwork (forms, releases, etc.);
  • Write letters to government agencies and clients;
  • Obtain and copy court files;
  • Provide thorough referrals to connect clients with other services;
  • Perform administrative tasks, including: covering the intake phone line, entering client information into multiple databases, copying, faxing, etc.

Qualifications:

  • Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills;
  • Meticulous attention to detail;
  • Communication skills, including the ability to maintain confidentiality and to work with people living with mental illness;
  • Ability to work independently, to meet deadlines, and to be flexible.

Please send a resume and cover letter to contact@veteranadvocacy.org with the subject: Undergrad “[Fall/Spring/Summer YYYY] Internship.” Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Veteran Advocacy Project, Inc., is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, immigration status, gender or gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, caregiver status, arrest or conviction record, unemployment status, predisposing genetic characteristics, survivor of domestic/intimate partner violence status, or marital or partnership status.

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