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Public Benefits Attorney

Description: 

ORGANIZATION INFORMATION

Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. (LawNY®) is a not-for-profit law firm that provides free civil legal services to low-income clients in a 14 county area of Western New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier. LawNY® has seven fully staffed field offices in Bath, Elmira, Geneva, Ithaca, Jamestown, Olean and Rochester, satellite offices in Lakeville and Lyons, and a business office in Rochester.

LawNY® has been providing high quality legal representation for 54 years, and today has over 180 employees, including attorneys, paralegals, and a legal support team who work closely across areas of specialization to bring a holistic approach to addressing legal issues affecting our clients and community.

LawNY® is committed to equitable inclusion across race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, sex, religion, economic circumstances, ethnicity, national origin, and culture. We are increasingly committed to creating a law firm where race equity, diversity and cultural competency are integral components of our work, from client advocacy to internal operations.

 

POSITION DESCRIPTION

The Ithaca office of LawNY® seeks to fill an immediate opening for a full time Public Benefits Staff Attorney to provide direct legal representation to claimants regarding Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This work will include administrative appeals within the government agency's appeals process, as well as litigation in federal court.

We encourage applicants with a wide range of substantive legal experience to apply. We expect those who fill this position will grow and adapt their practice to the needs of the community and the organization. The candidate must have the caring, patience, and emotional maturity to help low-income people overcome crisis situations.

Staff Attorneys at LawNY® provide comprehensive legal services to eligible clients and the ideal candidate should have a strong understanding of how civil legal issues affecting low-income communities intersect with social and economic justice. Staff Attorneys play a critical role in realizing LawNY®’s vision of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Every Staff Attorney is expected to actively engage in learning and becoming increasingly skilled in practice that supports this vision.

 

ABOUT ITHACA

The Ithaca office serves Tompkins and Tioga Counties which are located in the southern part of the Finger Lakes region of Western New York, an area noted for its beautiful lakes, scenery, and quality agriculture. Ithaca is home to Cornell University, an Ivy League university ranked among the world’s best, which brings diverse and unique ideas, innovation, and progress to the Ithaca community and landscape. 

Ithaca is seated on the southern shore of picturesque Cayuga Lake and is surrounded by some of the best hiking trails and breathtaking waterfalls in New York State, over 150 waterfalls within a 10 mile radius. Ithaca also has a vibrant social scene centered in the heart of the city which offers multicultural dining experiences, year round farmers’ markets, and a historic music venue. Notable nearby museums include the Johnson Museum of Art, Museum of the Earth, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Ithaca has a slightly higher than average cost of living with a median home price of $277,800 and a variety of 1 bedroom apartments available ranging from $875 to $1,800/month.

 

QUALIFICATIONS These are the basic requirements for the position.

  • Admitted to practice and in good standing in New York State, eligible for admission without examination, or willing to take the next available Bar examination.
  • Demonstrated commitment of service to low-income people.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work under deadlines and manage multiple tasks.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES These are the most significant responsibilities and primary functions of the position.

  • Maintain a full-time caseload representing eligible clients.
  • Develop and maintain specialized knowledge of the administrative law and federal court practice as it relates to claims for SSI and SSDI benefits.
  • Provides legal services to low income clients and client groups regarding these matters including advice, negotiation, litigation and administrative advocacy.
  • Interacts respectfully with clients from a wide range of backgrounds, with an awareness of the importance of cultural competence and humility.
  • Collaborates with other LawNY® advocates, human services providers, non-profit organizations and community groups as well as the courts, administrative tribunals and the private bar to address legal problems within our community, including providing community legal education.
  • Contributes to a safe and healthy work environment for fellow employees.
  • Cooperates in all grant reporting requirements, program reporting, timekeeping, file maintenance, case closing and compliance review.
  • Maintains a high level of professional competence through attendance of training sessions, seminars and conferences and individual efforts to keep abreast of current developments in the area of poverty law and the application of an equity lens to client service.

 

ADDITIONAL TRAITS AND SKILLS These are the traits, attributes, attitudes, and skills that speak to the candidate’s ability to succeed in the position. While no one candidate will possess all of the qualities listed, the ideal candidate will have many of these qualities. LawNY® encourages each candidate to think about their own personal knowledge, skills, and experience, as well as professional skills and experience in relation to this list.

  • Litigation and advocacy experience in state and/or federal court and/or administrative forums within at least one other area of poverty law, especially landlord-tenant, foreclosure, bankruptcy, homelessness prevention, fair housing, and government benefits.
  • Experience incorporating an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens into legal practice.
  • An understanding of the concepts of structural and institutional racism and their impact on underserved and underrepresented communities.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including a commitment to providing trauma-informed services.
  • Lived experience with our client communities.
  • True fluency in a language other than English that is spoken by our clients.

 

COMPENSATION

Salary is dependent on experience and based on a pay scale with annual increments.  The beginning salary for a Staff Attorney is $58,000 and the salary for a Staff Attorney with five years of experience is $64,000. LawNY® staff may also qualify for public interest law school loan forgiveness programs.

LawNY® provides an excellent package of fringe benefits including 94% employer paid health insurance with significant HSA contributions, 100% employer paid dental and disability insurance, vision coverage, and $50,000 automatic life insurance as well as generous leave provisions including, in the first year of employment, 20 days of vacation plus 13.5 holidays and two floating holidays.  Employees also receive 12 sick days and five personal days per year. New parents receive 20 days of paid new parent leave.

LawNY® is committed to providing a work-life balance to their employees.  We encourage and support a 35 hour work week to ensure our employees have this balance. We also offer a remote work policy where new staff are able to work from home up to 3 days per week during their 6 month probationary period with manager approval, as their case load permits. This may increase to 5 days per week once successfully finished with a probationary period with manager approval, as their case load permits.

Requirements: 
  • Admitted to practice and in good standing in New York State, eligible for admission without examination, or willing to take the next available Bar examination.
  • Demonstrated commitment of service to low-income people.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work under deadlines and manage multiple tasks.
To Apply: 

To apply, submit your cover letter, resume, and three professional references through LawNY®’s BambooHR platform found here. When outlining work experience on a resume, candidates are requested to label each position as full-time or part-time and describe unpaid volunteer/internships as such. 

 

To promote social justice and achieve our mission, LawNY® is committed to maintaining a diverse staff and creating an inclusive and respectful workplace. In your cover letter, please also include an explanation of how you think that your lived and/or professional experience or background has prepared you to contribute to support a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion at LawNY®.

 

Questions or Accommodations? Contact us at careers@lawny.org

 

Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. (LawNY®) is an equal opportunity employer. LawNY® strongly encourages applications from Black, Indigenous and People of Color, women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, people with disabilities, and persons from other underrepresented groups whose background may contribute to working in and sustaining an environment that enables staff and clients to feel empowered, valued, respected, and safe. LawNY® welcomes applications regardless of race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or any other consideration protected by law.

 

This position is considered Exempt pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Information

Submission Deadline: 
February 29, 2024
Organization Information: 
Legal Assistance of Western NY
United States