Senior Program Associate, CIJ

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Department: Center on Immigration and Justice

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Manager/Supervisor

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization that combines expertise in research, technical assistance, and demonstration projects to assist leaders in government and civil society examine justice policy and practice, and improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety. Vera is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace.

Vera seeks a Senior Program Associate to work within its Center on Immigration and Justice on the National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP) in Los Angeles.

The NQRP is the first program to provide appointed counsel to detained adults in immigration proceedings with serious mental illness. Nationwide in scope, the NQRP operates in partnership with a growing network of over 30 multidisciplinary teams of holistic legal services providers. The NQRP sits at the intersection of immigration, mental health, and criminal law, policy, practice, and program management, and offers work in a fast-paced, collaborative, creative space at the cutting edge of legal representation for a specific vulnerable population in immigration proceedings.

This is a full-time position based in Los Angeles.



The following are core responsibilities of the position. The examples provided are illustrative and other responsibilities may be added over time.

  • Innovative Problem-Solving: As the first program to provide appointed counsel in immigration proceedings, the NQRP requires innovative, collaborative brainstorming and problem-solving.
  • Onboarding, Training, and Technical Assistance: The NQRP must provide competent, independent, and zealous legal representation. The position is responsible for the creation, facilitation, and management of all onboarding, training, and technical assistance resources required by our multidisciplinary legal services providers to meet this obligation.
  • Program Development: The NQRP is a new program and requires continued development. The position is responsible, for example, for identifying and contracting with outstanding new legal services providers and for drafting Program Guidance Documents explaining program policies to our existing legal services providers.
  • Program Administration: The NQRP provides resources required by our legal services providers (experts, interpreters, investigators, etc.) for zealous representation. The position is responsible, for example, for review and resolution of such funding requests.
  • Data Collection and Analysis: The NQRP collects data for program management. The position requires an understanding of basic program data and collaboration with Vera research staff to assess, create reports on, and improve the Program.
  • Development and Maintenance of Stakeholder Relationships: The success of the NQRP depends on its stakeholders, including its government partner and its legal services providers. The position requires close contact with stakeholders, including regular phone and email contact and travel on site visits.


Candidates must possess these minimum qualifications:

  • A JD degree and current bar license;
  • At least 4 years’ experience defending detained people in removal proceedings;
  • An understanding of the role of defense counsel within the adversarial system;
  • The ability to work with both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders;
  • Impeccable writing skills, with the ability to quickly produce quality writing;
  • The ability to execute multiple assignments without frequent supervision;
  • The ability to meet short deadlines with quality work product;
  • The ability to work collaboratively on a team;
  • The ability to accept and apply constructive, professional feedback;
  • Familiarity with web-based, video meeting, and training platforms;
  • Willingness to learn Microsoft Excel, Access, Word, and PowerPoint;
  • Willingness to travel regularly; and
  • A valid driver’s license.

Ideal candidates will possess one or more of these additional qualifications:

  • Experience representing clients with mental or developmental disabilities;
  • A demonstrated knowledge of mental health law and concepts;
  • An (additional) degree in a mental health field;
  • Practice experience in a community mental health setting;
  • Understanding of and alignment with “recovery principles” of mental health;
  • A demonstrated knowledge of criminal law and concepts; OR
  • Experience as appointed counsel in a criminal defense or similar civil setting.



Based on experience, starting in the high 70s, plus excellent benefits


How to apply

Please submit a cover letter, writing sample, and resume. The cover letter should outline the minimum and additional qualifications possessed by the candidate and address how the candidate will use those qualifications to excel at the position’s responsibilities. The writing sample should be no more than 10 pages.

Candidates will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Online submission of materials in PDF format is preferred.

However, if necessary, materials may be mailed or faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / CIJ Senior Program Associate Recruitment

Vera Institute of Justice

233 Broadway, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10279

Fax: (212) 941-9407

Please use only one method (online, mail or fax) of submission.

No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.


Vera is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status.

Vera works to advance justice, particularly racial justice, in an increasingly multicultural country and globally connected world. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and justice system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.

For more information about Vera and CIJ’s work, please visit

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