Director of Legal Services

Posted by: The Pro Bono Project

New Orleans, LA, US

The Pro Bono Project’s mission is to provide free, quality civil legal services to the underserved by engaging volunteer lawyers to render pro bono services. Founded in 1986, The Project currently serves Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Washington parishes. Last year, The Project provided legal services to nearly 3,000 clients.

The Pro Bono Project recruits, trains and mentors volunteer attorneys on civil legal aid cases. Low-income clients that meet financial and legal eligibility requirements will be matched with a volunteer lawyer who can provide pro bono representation on a variety of issues including successions, divorce, provisional custody by mandate, child in need of care, public benefits, immigration, housing, bankruptcy and consumer matters. The pro bono mentoring method of providing technical subject matter expertise to volunteer lawyers is an efficient approach for the private bar to positively contribute to their community. The Project’s panel of approximately 1,800 volunteer attorneys represents an extensive and diverse pool of legal expertise, creating the opportunity for The Project to respond to a variety of legal problems. The Project has also created programs and clinics for specialized populations in need of free legal advice and currently runs the Self-Help Desk at the Twenty-Fourth Judicial District Court (JDC) in Jefferson Parish where pro se litigants come to seek assistance with filing petitions on family law matters (i.e. divorce, custody, etc.)

Position Description: The Project is seeking a Director of Legal Services to oversee all legal operations at The Project and to help grow our operation by expanding our service portfolio to new areas of law. We are seeking an experienced attorney, with preferably 10+ years of practice experience, who has knowledge of the substantive legal practice issues involved in public interest law, and who also has strong relationships within the greater New Orleans legal community. This position reports to the Executive Director.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Director of Legal Services’ primary responsibilities include:

  • supervision of work performed by staff attorneys and paralegals, interns, externs, and law students
  • preparation and/or review of case referrals to volunteer attorneys
  •  recruitment, training and support of pro bono volunteers, including technical legal support and mentoring services for our volunteers
  •  support with grant applications and grant funding renewals

Specific job duties include:

Pro Bono Management

  • Recruitment, training and support of pro bono volunteers, through one-on-one mentoring of pro bono attorneys, and liaison outreach to designated law firm pro bono contacts
  • Cultivate, develop and maintain relationships with pro bono attorneys and paralegals, law firms, pro bono liaisons at firms, and law schools
  •  Understanding and knowledge of the nature of pro bono work, the importance of maintaining relationships, and intuitive knowledge of how to recruit, invest in and retain valuable attorney volunteers
  •  Overall supervision of the selection and placement of pro bono cases that The Project takes on annually
  •  Work with the Executive Director to develop standards, policies, objectives and goals for the future of our pro bono caseload so that our service portfolio continues to evolve to meet the needs of the low- income client population and so that The Project continues to work cooperatively with our other non-profit legal service partners

Staff Supervision and Management

  •  Supervise and mentor all legal staff; assist them in pursuing their professional development goals; work with staff to develop their volunteer recruitment and pro bono mentoring capabilities
  •  Streamline and supervise The Project’s case selection and referral processes
  •  Organize, design and lead CLE training sessions on various subject matters of law that The Project currently works in
  •  Operational management of the legal team, including handling matters such as staff scheduling, working in concert with the Executive Director to complete annual staff performance reviews, etc.
  •  Assist with program administration, including grant reporting, running case reports from the client and volunteer data bases (PRIME), etc.
  •  Update volunteer information in the PRIME database, update case information for cases assigned to volunteers, track case status of all Project cases in PRIME, etc.
  •  Maintain appropriate documentation related to given caseload and grants, using case management systems and statistical grant reports
  • Work collaboratively with funders and partner organizations
  •  Serve on various external committees and task forces relevant to legal services

Required Skills

We are seeking a positive and energetic candidate, who is both a team player and someone who can prioritize and manage diverse responsibilities well. The nature of our caseload and the management duties involved in this position require a candidate who is flexible with their schedule.

Other required qualifications include:

  •  J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school
  •  Licensed and in good standing to practice law in Louisiana
  •  10 years of law practice experience preferred; candidates should minimally have 7 years of law practice experience
  •  Working knowledge of most of the general areas of public interest and poverty law that The Project currently accepts cases in (i.e. public benefits, consumer rights, unemployment, landlord/tenant, housing, successions, family law, immigration, etc.); and a willingness to learn and develop knowledge in areas where there is a lack of practice experience
  •  Deep commitment to public interest law and to increasing access to justice for the indigent population
  •  6-Hour Certification for Child in Need of Care cases (or commitment to obtaining this certification within 3 months of hire)
  •  Prior experience supervising staff
  •  Excellent oral, written and organizational skills
  •  Must have sensitivity, patience and prior experience with working with our client population, either having previously worked at a public interest organization or having worked on pro bono matters as private counsel
  •  Computer proficiency (Word, Acrobat, Excel, etc.) and knowledge of and/or commitment to learn the PRIME software used by Louisiana legal service providers as a client and volunteer database for handling files and running reports
  •  Must have valid unexpired Louisiana driver’s license and own vehicle to travel to events, clinics, meetings off site as needed

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