Do you identify as a member of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community? Are you interested in establishing a private practice focused on criminal defense social work after completing an employee-based fellowship? If you are passionate about advocating for individuals accused of crimes as a member of their criminal defense team, we have an amazing opportunity for you!

This fellowship presents an opportunity to make a meaningful difference for those committed to criminal defense social work while receiving valuable support from current OADC Social Workers to guide and train you on your journey to start and maintain your own private practice.

This two-year funded fellowship provides the ideal opportunity to lay the groundwork for launching your business as an independent contractor upon completion of the fellowship. With the innovative structure of this fellowship and the backing of the OADC team, you’ll receive support in establishing your forensic social work practice.

About Us: 

The Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel (OADC) is the legislatively created state agency responsible for providing client services and legal representation for indigent individuals (adults and youth) when the state has charged them with a criminal or delinquent act and the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender has a conflict of interest.  The OADC accomplishes this by contracting with over 400 private attorneys and another 500 legal service providers (forensic social workers/clinical advocates, paralegals, investigators, legal researchers, case assistants, legal interns, etc.) to provide client services on an hourly basis. Our fundamental belief is that good holistic legal defense teams produce good results for our clients.

Mission Statement:  

The mission of the Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel (OADC), through the practice of holistic public defense, is to help adults and children who the government has charged with criminal and delinquent offenses. The OADC’s holistic practice model fosters ethical, informed, and standard-driven best practices in public defense. The OADC allocates resources in a manner intentionally designed to rebalance the disparate power wielded by the government in the criminal legal system. OADC advocates for every client’s inherent worth and dignity by centering the client’s lived experiences and voice to achieve the best legal outcome.

The OADC is dedicated to zealous, client-centered advocacy rooted in social justice, integrity, and humility. We recognize that we are working within a broken and racist criminal legal system. Public defense advocates play an essential role in challenging bias and disparity within the courtroom, within our offices, and within ourselves. Statistical data and experiences support that there is a disparate presence of violent policing, over-charging, and harsher sentencing outcomes for Colorado’s people of color and other vulnerable populations. The OADC is unwavering in its support of decarceration, the decriminalization of youth, and equity within the criminal legal system.

About the Inclusivity Fellowship: 

Legal and social work fields suffer from a lack of diversity nationwide. Colorado’s legal community is no different.   The pool of social workers contracting with the OADC is a microcosm of the larger systemic problem.  While the lack of diversity is generally problematic for the legal community, it is especially problematic in the criminal legal system where the over-prosecution resulting in mass incarceration of BIPOC individuals is an endemic, national crisis.

We believe that representation matters and thus, believe there is an undeniable benefit when BIPOC community members participate in the system as defense advocates.  Rather than passively awaiting broader diversity within the legal profession, the OADC is committed to expanding the diversity of the pool of contracted forensic social workers through this fellowship and other initiatives. Our hope is that this deliberate action will enhance the diversity of Colorado’s legal community, fostering inclusivity and representation.

The Inclusivity Fellowship Program represents an innovative public-private collaboration. It offers a Master-level social worker a state employee position with a competitive salary and benefits for up to two years, supporting the fellow as they cultivate their emerging practice. This employee position will begin as early as June of 2024 and will terminate no later than two years from the date of hire.  The exact duration of the fellowship will be tailored to meet the needs of the individual fellow and their future business.  The OADC will provide mentorship from experienced criminal defense practitioners to assist with developing appropriate legal skills, case management, and professional development.  In addition, the OADC has a robust training program to further aid in professional development.  With the innovative structure of this fellowship and the backing of the OADC team, you’ll receive support in establishing your forensic social work practice within your community.

Although the fellowship is geared toward developing a social worker who will be proficient in indigent defense, we understand that the fellow may need to develop a well-rounded practice that involves advocating for people in more than just criminal matters.  It is anticipated that the fellow will work to build relationships so that at the conclusion of their fellowship, they can develop other sources of income including private pay criminal cases, federal criminal cases, and contract work in dependency and neglect cases through other state agencies (e.g., the Office of the Child’s Representative or the Office of Respondent Parent Counsel).

Other duties deemed necessary to help fulfil our Mission:

The OADC fellowship requires collaborative work designed for people who thrive in an interdisciplinary team environment.  This position reports to the Social Work Outreach Coordinator and will engage with various team members.  The fellow is not required to work in the OADC Denver office and may be located outside of the Denver metro area.

About You: 

The Inclusivity FSW Fellow will practice at the clinical and macro-level of the youth and adult criminal system, engaging with clients and their families to offer the best legal defense. You will be an integral part of our mission, committed to advocating for and serving OADC clients charged with adult criminal or youth delinquent offenses.

You are a BIPOC social worker dedicated to advocating and joining the OADC’s mission towards decarceration and disrupting the criminal legal system’s disproportionate impact on communities of color and under resourced communities.  You are an aspiring entrepreneur driven by the desire to establish your own small business supporting, serving, and defending people charged in the criminal legal system with your skills and expertise.

Our ideal candidate possesses the following skills:

• High level of curiosity and ability to think critically about prior information collected and areas of undeveloped mitigation.

• Ability to apply theories and practices of social work practice from a criminal defense perspective.

• Increasing knowledge or proficiency in assessing implications of physical, mental health, substance use issues, and neurological conditions on development across the lifespan.

• Ability to establish effective working relationships with clients, families, witnesses, court and institutional personnel, experts, and colleagues.

• Motivational, strengths-based interviewing skills with the ability to elicit often embarrassing, sensitive details from clients and witnesses.

• Excellent written and oral advocacy skills.

• Ability to work in a multidisciplinary legal team.

• Self-directed organizational and time-management skills with the ability to meet sometimes short deadlines.

• Familiarity with the Colorado criminal system; gained through academic, professional or lived experience.

• Knowledge of adolescent development and trauma.

• Empathy to the needs and histories of individuals with criminal records.

• Ability to function under institutional pressure in detention centers and prisons.

• Ability to coordinate complex services involving multiple barriers.

• Commitment to transformational change of the criminal legal system and working with communities oppressed by the system.

• Ability to understand the complexities of client-attorney privilege and confidentiality.

• High level of initiative, enthusiasm, motivation, and professionalism.

• Curiosity and interest in furthering professional training and education.

• Proficiency in standard software applications such as Word, Excel, Acrobat, and Power Point; internet access and email required.

• Bilingual skills in English/Spanish a plus

Primary Duties and Responsibilities: 

• Conducts work as a member of the criminal defense team while adhering to the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct regarding client-attorney privilege and confidentiality.

• Serving as a collaborative member of the defense team, including consulting with attorneys and other team members on the appropriate approach to the case; maintaining regular and timely communications with the team; and providing support to the client.

• Assists the attorney/client team with the identification and collection of mitigation evidence to support mitigation themes, and advocates for alternative sentencing options when appropriate. May assist in plea negotiations at the direction of the attorney.

• Identifies, locates, and conducts in person interviews with individuals relevant to mitigation in a culturally responsive manner and identifies and analyzes relevant records pertaining to mitigation.

• Compiles comprehensive well-documented social history/mitigation reports for presentation to the defense team, experts, district attorneys, court or jury, treatment providers or others as appropriate.

• Assists the legal team in identifying and understanding major mental illness, intellectual and developmental disability, substance use issues, individual and transgenerational trauma, and neurological issues resulting from congenital or traumatic brain injury.

• Summarizes and provides experts with legal, medical, psychological, educational, and institutional records, at the direction of the attorney, to highlight relevant information for their review.

• Engages in intensive case management and resource identification to support the legal case with a focus on identifying alternatives to incarceration and detention.

• Build community connections to support individual clients and identify critical  resources and stakeholders to assist in holistic practice

• May assist in crisis intervention or risk assessment with approval or direction from the attorney.

• May include overnight travel.

The state legislature awarded us a two-year fellowship with government benefits, providing an opportunity for practical experience and business preparation, serving as a pathway to practice.  If you are offered employment, the following are the conditions of employment: 

• Be currently licensed to practice social work (LSW or LCSW) in the State of Colorado or will be licensed to practice social work (LSW) in the State of Colorado within 90 days of the hire date. For graduating MSW students or unlicensed MSWs, you must register as a CSW candidate immediately upon hiring

• Be a current resident of the state of Colorado or become a resident of the state of Colorado within 30 days of the hire date.

• Be willing to submit a routine background investigation, including a criminal history check.

• If hired, the Immigration Reform and Control Act requires you to provide proof of your eligibility to work in the United States within three workdays.

• The ability to work remotely or in an office setting.

You will be required to provide three references in addition to the following documents:  

• Resume/CV – Required

• Writing Sample that demonstrates clinical reasoning – Required

• Cover letter – Highly preferred

The State of Colorado is committed to providing employees with a comprehensive and competitive benefits package that supports you, your health, and your family.  Click here for further information about State of Colorado Employee Benefits.

How to Apply:  

Complete the online application at the link below by 11:59 PM on June 10, 2024. Please add Formsite link as a safe sender. Once you submit your application, you will receive an automatic email from Formsite. If you cannot find this email, please look in your spam/junk folder. 

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. Faxed, mailed, or emailed applications will not be accepted. Please direct any additional inquiries or questions to

Monthly Salary Range: $4,865- $6,081

Annual Salary Range: $58,383- $72,979

FLSA Status: Exempt

Location: Colorado

The Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel is an equal-opportunity employer that is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, religion, social class, national origin, marital or parental status, pregnancy, disability status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or political affiliation.  We are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and an environment of representation diversity and we encourage individuals of many identities, backgrounds, and experiences to apply.

To request accommodation, please contact Juanise Cornell at or (720) 994-2857 as soon as possible. Any person with a disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), may be provided a reasonable accommodation upon request to enable the person to participate in the hiring process.  The person making the request may be asked to provide additional information regarding functional limitations and the type of accommodation needed, which will be kept confidential.  Preparation may be required, so timely requests for accommodation are appreciated.

Job Contact
Claire Polini