The New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA) is seeking a Director of Public Defense Recruitment and Retention for our Public Defense Backup Center. There is a crisis related to recruitment, hiring, and retention within the public defense community. While many professions have been struggling with these issues since the pandemic began, public defense has been particularly hard hit by these challenges. NYSDA has received a grant to create a statewide program to address this crisis. The Director will lead a coordinated, structural effort to recruit, hire, train, and develop current and future generations of public defenders and public defense team members.

NYSDA, a not-for-profit, membership organization, has been providing support to New York’s public defense community since 1967. NYSDA’s mission is to improve the quality and scope of publicly supported legal representation to people who cannot afford counsel. NYSDA operates the state’s Public Defense Backup Center, which provides legal support services, training programs, its Public Defense Case Management System, and other services to public defense offices and assigned counsel attorneys throughout the state. NYSDA offers high quality training to public defense attorneys, investigators, social workers, and other members of the public defense team. The Backup Center is instrumental in assisting defenders around the state to advance quality representation in criminal and family court cases.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develops and fosters relationships with law schools in New York and surrounding states to establish and build the next generation of public defense attorneys and leaders in offices throughout New York
  • Develops and fosters relationships with relevant law school clinics (public interest, family defense, criminal defense, innocence, and similar practice areas) and career services professionals
  • Gathers information about what law students seek and value in employment and employers
  • Provides education to law students, law student groups, law clinics, professors, and administrators about public defense careers in New York
  • Conducts outreach to relevant undergraduate and graduate college and university programs regarding public defense careers, including the following positions: attorneys, investigators, social workers, paralegals, discovery specialists, and mitigation specialists
  • Conducts outreach to state, local, and specialty bar associations and similar professional associations regarding public defense careers
  • Builds relationships with public defense offices in New York and helps to identify recruitment needs and retention challenges
  • Collaborates with public defense offices that request recruitment and retention support
  • Assists public defense offices to develop internship programs for law students and other students; develop effective hiring practices; and develop a positive and supportive office culture
  • Centers diversity, equity, and inclusion in all recruitment and retention work
  • Attends local, regional, and national recruitment/career fairs and conferences to promote public defense careers in New York
  • Assists New York public defense offices to participate in recruitment/career fairs
  • Organizes New York public defense career fairs, as needed
  • Develops and maintains a public defense career platform connected to NYSDA’s website
  • Establishes programs to promote peer support and wellness, such as young public defender groups and mentorships
  • Coordinates with NYSDA’s training team to offer training programs that support recruitment and retention, including training on leadership development and management skills
  • Keeps current on trends in public defense recruitment and retention
  • Implements and maintains effective data collection, analysis, and reporting mechanisms to gauge recruitment and retention effectiveness
  • Supervises program personnel
  • Other duties as assigned by the Executive Director or Deputy Director

This is a two-year grant-funded position with the possibility of extension depending on available funding.

The position is eligible for NYSDA’s generous benefit package, including paid vacation, personal, sick, and parental leave; health, dental, and vision insurance coverage; flexible spending account; and 403(b) with an employer contribution after one year.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to Executive Assistant Diane DuBois at (subject line: Director of Public Defense Recruitment and Retention). Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Expected start date: Late Spring 2024.

NYSDA is an equal opportunity employer. NYSDA values diversity, equity, and inclusion and strongly encourages candidates of all identities, orientations, experiences, and communities to apply.

  • Admitted to practice law (admission to practice/eligible to seek admission to practice in New York is preferred but not required)
  • Experience with recruitment and hiring in the legal profession
  • Alignment with NYSDA’s mission to improve the quality of representation in criminal and family defense
  • Enthusiasm for promoting public defense careers
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills
  • Ability to develop objectives, evaluate effectiveness, and assess needs
  • Experience organizing events and training programs
  • Experience using Microsoft software, Adobe, online communication tools, and social media platforms
  • Ability to prepare and present to small and large groups
  • Knowledge of federal, state, and local employment laws
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Ability to travel to public defense offices and law schools in New York State
  • Ability to travel to law schools and events out of state, as needed
Job Contact
Diane DuBois