Job Description
Job Title Staff Attorney-Refugee Protection Program
Job ID 776083
Begin Date 1/23/14
Location Houston,  TX
Other Location
Human Rights First advances the rights of refugees and U.S. leadership to protect rights for refugees in the United States and around the world.  We work to protect refugees and other vulnerable migrants from a range of human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, by advocating for access to asylum and other protection, fair asylum and immigration court procedures, and for U.S. compliance with international refugee and human rights law. A key part of our strategy to achieve these goals has been to help hundreds of individual refugees in the United States each year to win asylum through access to pro bono legal representation in the New York City, New Jersey, and Washington, DC areas.
The organization is led by President and CEO Elisa Massimino.  A lawyer and activist with more than two decades of experience in the field, Massimino has been recognized as one of the top 20 public advocates in the country.  Massimino leads a team of more than 70 talented and committed activists based in New York City and Washington, D.C.  Human Rights First’s Board of Directors is a diverse, highly esteemed, and accomplished group of global human rights champions who are leaders in industry, law, media, the arts, and education.
Human Rights First seeks an experienced attorney for an exciting opportunity to lead our asylum legal representation program in Houston, and to serve as the face of Human Rights First in Texas. As part of our long-term commitment to human rights and legal representation, Human Rights First is currently expanding its pro bono asylum legal representation work, and in connection with this, we are in the process of opening up a Houston, Texas office. This will be our first office location outside of New York, NY and Washington, DC in our 35-year history.
The Staff Attorney in the new Houston office will be responsible for administering Human Rights First’s pro bono asylum legal representation program within Houston’s greater metropolitan area. S/he will also help build and maintain a base of support for Human Rights First among law firms, donors, and other supporters in the community.

The ideal candidate will be an experienced, entrepreneurial attorney with the agility and strategic thinking to establish and lead a pro bono legal representation program, while also serving as a representative of Human Rights First in a new region. S/he will have significant direct representation experience, including representation of asylum applicants, and a strong background in immigration law. S/he will also demonstrate the capacity to work under pressure in a fast-paced environment while juggling multiple tasks, and the ability to work independently, as well as collaboratively with colleagues in other offices. Human Rights First seeks a compelling advocate and spokesperson with a proven ability to successfully steward relationships with key players.
  • Ensure that the refugees represented by Human Rights First’s pro bono program receive high-quality legal representation, by providing training, guidance, advice, and legal updates to volunteer attorneys on asylum and immigration law;
  • Ensure that volunteer attorneys receive prompt and complete legal and procedural support on our pro bono asylum cases, including conducting trainings, strategizing on individual cases, reviewing draft submissions, and preparing memoranda informing volunteers of significant legal developments;
  • Develop and build a Houston-based pro bono attorney network and work to maintain strong relationships with local law firms and volunteer attorneys that have already established relationships with Human Rights First;
  • Promote Human Rights First’s mission and work by participating in local community events, promotional events, and other professional networking events that will increase the organization’s profile in the Houston community. Engage in positive messaging efforts that will aid Human Rights First in successfully integrating into Houston’s service provider community;
  • Engage new supporters and donors in the Houston community;
  • Design processes, working collaboratively with other team staff, to ensure individuals who may be eligible for representation learn about Human Rights First and how to contact our offices to request potential legal assistance; 
  • Assist in the identification of cases appropriate for pro bono representation, including through  conducting in-person intake interviews;
  • Participate in Human Rights First efforts to assist asylum seekers detained at area detention facilities including conducting intake, when needed, in the three (3) regional immigrant detention facilities;
  • Help conduct, review and supervise case management and quality control systems for pro bono program cases;
  • Provide supervision and legal oversight to legal assistant;
  • Recruit and assist in supervision of interns from local law schools and colleges;
  • Develop training materials for volunteer attorneys, including manuals, memoranda, seminars, and symposia, and update, an online resource hosted by Human Rights First;
  • Spot, analyze, and respond to legal or procedural changes that affect asylum seekers, including statutory changes, proposed regulations, and decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals or federal courts;
  • Assist in efforts to secure and maintain funding for program activities, and to promote interest in our pro bono work including through identifying and drafting profiles of refugees or lawyer client stories to illustrate the importance of legal representation;
  • Assist in the conduct of advocacy on behalf of asylum seekers by meeting with local officials at the Department of Homeland Security, and its various bureaus, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review;
  • Oversee general office operations, and coordinate, as necessary, with staff in New York, NY and Washington, DC to resolve operational issues in a timely fashion.
  • U.S. law degree (J.D.)

ANNUAL SALARY: Competitive with comprehensive benefits package

START DATE:  April 2014

SUBMISSION DEADLINE:  February 14, 2014. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis; applicants are encouraged to apply early. 

Please complete the online application found at our website under ABOUT US / JOB OPPORTUNITIES links.
You will be requested to provide:
·         Resume (upload)
·         Cover letter (secondary upload*)
·         Writing sample (secondary upload*)
·         Names and contact details for three (3) references (enter online)

* After completing the initial application and uploading your resume, please select VIEW PROFILE and UPLOAD ATTACHMENT to upload additional documents.  You can also log into your profile from the top of the Job Opportunities page.  When logged into your profile, you can upload cover letter, writing sample, and any other relevant documents by selecting UPLOAD ATTACHMENT at the top of the page. 

Applicants will receive a confirmation email with their username and password once they’ve created a profile.  Please keep this information to access your application and make changes at any time.

Only selected applicants will be contacted for phone or in-person interviews.  NO PHONE CALLS, PLEASE.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington DC. We build respect for human rights and the rule of law to help ensure the dignity to which everyone is entitled and to stem intolerance, tyranny, and violence.

Human Rights First is committed to recruiting, retaining, developing, and promoting staff across all programs and departments from a diversity of backgrounds, including members of racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTI people, people with disabilities, people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, people of all nationalities, and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. We believe that a diverse staff and an inclusive work environment that welcomes a range of perspectives help make our advocacy work stronger and more effective.
Required Skills •A legal degree and admission to the bar, preferably in Texas; admission to other state bars acceptable;

•Excellent oral and written communication skills;
• Several years, of direct representation experience and at least one year––ideally several––of direct representation of asylum applicants at all levels of the administrative process, and experience working on other immigration law matters including SJIS, refugee/asylee family reunification petitions and refugee/asylee adjustment of status applications;

•Experience in mentoring other attorneys, preferably on immigration law matters;

•Knowledge of U.S. immigration law and policy;

•Commitment to working with volunteer lawyers;

•Valid driver’s license/ability to travel regionally by car to area immigrant detention centers on a periodic basis (mileage is reimbursed);

•Ability to communicate patiently, respectfully, and empathetically with individuals from a variety of backgrounds as well as survivors of trauma or torture;

•Demonstrated ability to work independently, as well as collaboratively with colleagues in other offices;

•Ability to manage numerous diverse tasks simultaneously, work under pressure and meet deadlines, and to identify and analyze legal issues.

•Fluency in one or more relevant second languages, particularly Spanish, as well as Arabic or French, is highly desirable;

•Supervisory experience is preferred;

•Previous media, public speaking or promotional work experience is highly desirable; and

•Fundraising experience, including a demonstrated ability to cultivate relationships with individual donors is beneficial.

•A team-building, collegial approach to work;

•Strong interpersonal and communication skills characterized by clarity and accuracy;

•Adaptability in navigating new and dynamic projects;

•Determination and initiative, coupled with energetic leadership qualities;

•Ability to recognize and maximize opportunity on behalf of the organization;

•Consistent respect for others at all levels;

•Goal-oriented, objective-oriented, and achievement-oriented;

•Demonstrated ability to work successfully across organization lines, to work comfortably in a variety of settings, including legal, academic, and advocacy, and to work confidently with government officials and the media;

•A warm, personal style with a good sense of humor.
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