Research and Policy Staff Attorney- School Justice Project
Advocates For Children (AFC) is a dynamic social justice organization that strives to ensure a high-quality education for New York students who face barriers to academic success, focusing on students from low- income backgrounds. AFC works on behalf of children and youth who are at greatest risk of academic failure due to poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, homelessness, immigration status/limited English proficiency, or involvement in the child welfare or juvenile/criminal legal systems. We use uniquely integrated strategies to advance systemic reform, empower families and communities, and advocate for the educational rights of individual students. For more information on AFC, see www.advocatesforchildren.org.
AFC’s School Justice Project (SJP) provides case advocacy and legal representation to address the educational needs of youth facing school suspension or court involvement. The project also provides training and technical assistance to parents, young people, and the professionals who work with them. In addition, we advocate for systemic reform with respect to school discipline and school climate, as well as the education of court-involved
youth. SJP is looking for a Staff Attorney to provide direct representation, policy advocacy, community education, and at times, litigation support to ensure that low-income students receive the behavioral and mental health support they need, as well as the legal protections to which they are entitled, so they can stay and succeed in school. This position will report to the Director of the School Justice Project.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
• Provides legal representation and advocacy to families experiencing school-related difficulties such as inappropriate special education placements and services, enrollment issues, or school discipline. Focuses primarily, though not exclusively, on school discipline and mental health.
• Advocates for changes to NYC’s school-justice practices through policy work and, as needed, impact litigation.
• Serves as AFC’s liaison to the Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York, a coalition of students, educators and parents working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.
• Provides training and workshops to parents, professionals, and youth on a variety of education-related topics, including school discipline.
• Drafts and updates informational materials for parents, professionals, and youth as needed.
• Assists with direct representation, training, publications, policy work, and impact litigation in other AFC projects or on other special education related matters, as needed.
• Records contemporaneous and accurate entries in Salesforce database.
• Participates in committees and collaborative efforts to benefit the office as appropriate.
• Understanding of and alignment with AFC’s mission. Please review AFC’s work at
• Law degree required, with admission to the NYS bar preferred.
• Experience working with communities with low income, communities of color, and/or communities with disabilities required.
• One to three years direct representation or litigation experience strongly preferred.
• Experience and/or knowledge of education, school discipline, disability, or civil rights laws strongly preferred.
• Proficiency in a language other than English, particularly Spanish, preferred.
• Excellent oral and written communication and advocacy skills (including adversarial and negotiation).
• Ability to identify, analyze, and creatively resolve layered and complex problems.
• Strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and client database record-keeping skills.
• Flexibility, initiative, maturity, and cooperative attitude.
• Ability to set priorities, meet deadlines, and work both independently and collaboratively.
• Strong interpersonal skills and ability to engage effectively across cultures, identities, and ethnicities.
• Desire to learn, both as an individual and as part of an organization, and apply diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism principles.
• Ability to attend coalition meetings and events in the evenings at least two times a month.
• Proficient in Microsoft Programs (Outlook, Word, SharePoint, Teams) and Zoom.
EXPECTED START DATE
The position is available immediately, and resumes will be considered on a rolling basis.
Please e-mail one document that includes a resume and cover letter to SJPAttorney@advocatesforchildren.org with “Staff Attorney – School Justice Project” in the subject line. Candidates should highlight why they are interested in this role at AFC and how their experience aligns with the Staff Attorney position, including any personal or professional experience that demonstrates your connection to the populations that AFC serves. Due to a high volume of applicants, only complete applications from qualified candidates will be contacted. No phone calls please.
This is a full-time position, with a salary in the $76,000 – $84,000 range, depending on experience, and includes a comprehensive benefits package. AFC’s current compensation package includes medical and dental insurance, with a plan option that covers full payment of medical plan premiums for staff and their qualified dependents. AFC has generous time-off policies that include 10 federal holidays, office closure between Christmas and New
Year’s Day, and 15 vacation days and 15 paid time off days in the first year of employment. AFC also offers a 403(b) plan with a fully vested employer match and coverage of the premium cost of life insurance and long- and short-term disability insurance.
Currently, all AFC positions are expected to work at least 2 days a week in the office and remotely on the remaining days. AFC is an affirmative action employer that actively seeks to recruit and retain a diverse staff and especially encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, parents of persons with disabilities, persons of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or gender expressions and persons of diverse
AFC is committed to providing access, equal opportunity, and reasonable accommodation when requested by a qualified applicant or employee with a disability or other protected characteristic. The policy regarding requests for reasonable accommodation applies to all aspects of employment, including the application process. For more information and to request an accommodation, contact Human Resources at HR@advocatesforchildren.org.