Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO)
Start Date: Immediate
Open Until Filled
Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) is hiring a staff attorney to work on innocence cases. 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 two year commitment.
Founded in 2001, IPNO is a nonprofit legal office that frees innocent people who are serving life sentences, supports them living well and fully in the world after their release, and advocates for sensible criminal justice policies that reduce wrongful convictions. IPNO has freed or exonerated 37 innocent people who have spent nearly 900 years in prison between them.
In addition to the innocence cases that the Staff Attorney will work on, IPNO also has an Unjust Punishment Project, started in 2019, that advocates for the release of people serving life or near-life sentences for nonviolent crimes through thoughtful and creative litigation and advocacy. To date, IPNO’s UPP has freed 7 individuals who have spent nearly 130 years in prison between them.
IPNO uses its cases to expose the causes of wrongful convictions and advocates for policies and practices that will prevent or reduce the number of wrongful convictions. IPNO works with legislators, judges, lawyers, law enforcement, policymakers, and community advocates to transform the criminal legal 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, registration to take the July 2021 Bar Exam, or eligibility to take the February 2022 Bar Exam.
- 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:
- At least two 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.)
- 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 $55,000 – $67,000 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 in accordance with IPNO’s pay scale.
The position will be open until filled. Please e-mail a cover letter, 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.
IPNO is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse work force reflective of the diverse communities we serve and support, with regard to race, culture, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, and caregiver status. IPNO works to advance racial justice and equity. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and legal system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.