Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO)
Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) is hiring a staff attorney. We are looking for an energetic individual with relevant experience to help us free factually innocent prisoners from Louisiana’s prisons. This is a full time position with a minimum three year commitment.
Founded in 2001, IPNO frees innocent, life-sentenced prisoners, supports them living well and fully in the world after their release and advocates for sensible criminal justice policies that reduce wrongful convictions. IPNO is one of the most effective innocence organizations in the world. As of October 2019, we have freed or exonerated 36 innocent prisoners, who served over 830 years in prisons between them.
We take cases where DNA testing can prove innocence, and harder cases where physical evidence does not exist or has been destroyed. IPNO uses our cases to illustrate causes of wrongful convictions and how policy, law and narrative changes can prevent poor defendants from being wrongly convicted. More of Louisiana and Mississippi’s citizens encounter the criminal justice system than those of any other place in the world. We believe that wrongful convictions can be prevented in a smaller, more focused, accurate and accountable criminal justice system.
About the Position:
The core role of an IPNO staff attorney is to manage and litigate cases from the point at which the potential client is identified until the moment the client is exonerated. This requires:
- Planning case investigations and working with IPNO’s staff investigators to implement these plans and manage the case. Most IPNO cases involve dozens of witnesses and thousands of pages of documents.
- Planning long term case strategy and problem solving. Many of IPNO’s clients had convictions that were deemed “final” decades ago and face many procedural bars to having their convictions vacated.
- Writing pleadings, writ applications, appeals, and other filings. Most of IPNO’s litigation is conducted on paper.
- Managing DNA and other forensic testing. IPNO cases can involve arranging new forensic tests to prove innocence or discrediting flawed forensic evidence used to convict.
- Conducting evidentiary hearings. Getting an IPNO client’s conviction vacated normally requires at least one multi-day evidentiary hearing.
- Negotiating with the State or other interested parties.
IPNO is a small non-profit so, in addition to performing the core role, the staff attorney will be expected to assist as necessary with other aspects of IPNO’s work such as fundraising, communications, events, policy, office administration, and post-release assistance of clients. IPNO is a client-focused office where teamwork and collaboration to ensure IPNO’s overall effectiveness and success are expected and valued.
Requirements for the role:
- J.D. or equivalent, along with license to practice law in Louisiana.
- At least three years litigation experience involving indigent defense or civil rights work. (A post-graduation judicial clerkship will be considered in lieu of one year of experience.)
- Computer literacy, including experience using common office software.
- Willingness to travel (largely in-state) and work irregular hours when necessary.
- The ability to communicate and work cooperatively with a wide range of people, including government personnel and officials, law enforcement, attorneys, records custodians, students, prisoners and their families, and members of the community.
- Excellent legal research and writing skills.
- Good oral advocacy skills and experience litigating in court.
- Excellent organizational skills.
- Ability to work in a team and receive constructive feedback.
- Ability to effectively delegate to and supervise investigators, law clerks and volunteers.
- Valid driver’s license.
Preferences for the role:
- Experience managing complex multi-year litigation.
- Existing ties to Louisiana.
- Knowledge/experience concerning:
- Post-conviction and federal habeas law.
- DNA and other forensic evidence.
- Utilizing the Louisiana Public Records Act.
- Developing investigative plans.
- Interviewing witnesses and drafting statements/affidavits.
- Thorough legal researching skills.
Salary and benefits:
The salary range for this position is $58,000 – $70,000 with a very competitive benefits package including medical/dental coverage, five weeks paid vacation, and 401k match. We observe federal holidays, and the office is closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Salary will be determined commensurate with experience.
The position will be open until filled. Please e-mail a cover letter, including salary requirement, resume, 3 references, and a writing sample (no longer than 10 pages) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the job title in the e-mail subject line. Do not call.