The Bronx Defenders - Deputy General Counsel

Full Time
1 year ago

The Bronx Defenders (BxD) – an innovative, progressive, holistic indigent defense office in the South Bronx – seeks a Deputy General Counsel with a commitment to social justice and practical counseling experience across a range of topics including the law of charitable organizations, labor and employment law and rules governing the practice of law.

The Bronx Defenders is a public defender non-profit that is radically transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the legal system, and, in doing so, is transforming the system itself. BxD seeks thoughtful, creative, energetic individuals with a strong commitment to social justice to join our dynamic and diverse staff. Our staff of over 400 includes interdisciplinary teams made up of criminal, civil, immigration, and family defense attorneys, as well as social workers, benefits specialists, legal advocates, parent advocates, investigators, and team administrators, who collaborate to provide holistic advocacy to address the causes and consequences of legal system involvement. Through this integrated team-based structure, we have pioneered a groundbreaking, nationally-recognized model of representation called holistic defense that achieves better outcomes for our clients.

Each year, we defend more than 20,000 low-income Bronx residents in criminal, civil, child welfare, and immigration cases, and reach thousands more through our community intake, youth mentoring, and outreach programs. Through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community organizing, we push for systemic reform at the local, state, and national levels. We take what we learn from the clients and communities that we serve and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change.


The Deputy General Counsel will work with the General Counsel and members of the leadership team to maintain an atmosphere of equity, ethics and integrity in all of the organization’s operations, build the strategic management of legal risks into all aspects of management decision-making, provide legal expertise in the creation of innovative programs within BxD and among BxD’s partner organizations, and provide responsive and constructive general legal support to the organization’s entire staff. Across these functions, the Deputy General Counsel will be the General Counsel’s partner in finding creative solutions that move the organization’s policies and practices toward better serving our clients in the Bronx.

The Deputy General Counsel will participate in all aspects of the General Counsel’s work, and will step in as lead counsel for the organization on selected projects and when the General Counsel is unavailable.

The Deputy General Counsel should have a record of providing effective and reliable counseling in a comparable organizational setting, comfort with most of the areas of legal counseling listed below, and the ability to develop comfort quickly in any other relevant areas. Preference will be given to candidates whose personal and professional backgrounds put them in a strong position to understand the needs of BxD’s clients, and the ways BxD’s institutional decisions affect constituencies including clients, staff and the community.

This is a new, full-time position, and will be based at BxD’s offices in the South Bronx.

Primary responsibilities of the Deputy General Counsel, with examples in each instance, include the following:

  • Counsel managers and directors on operation of a charitable organization
  • Ensure compliance with legal restrictions applicable to charitable organizations and to New York not-for-profit corporations
  • Provide guidance on governance procedures and fiduciary responsibilities
  • Assist with regulatory reporting and approvals
  • Help incorporate best practices into all aspects of governance and operations
  • Support legal practice managers on legal ethics and practice of law matters
  • Resolve questions of interpretation under rules of professional conduct
  • Provide training and resources for legal staff
  • Assist in the management of professional responsibility claims
  • Provide training and legal support to help ensure compliance with confidentiality, conflicts and practice of law requirements applicable to non-lawyer members of cross-disciplinary client representation teams
  • Support the HR department in labor and employment matters
  • Help to maintain and interpret the employee handbook and other policies and procedures
  • Support HR in interpreting the BxD collective bargaining agreement and handling union grievances
  • Help deliver training for staff regarding legal compliance and legal risk management issues
  • Provide general legal support on topics such as benefits administration, harassment and discrimination, and employee privacy
  • Provide general legal support for BxD’s transactional and operational affairs
  • Help interpret and ensure compliance with funding contracts
  • Review, negotiate and draft agreements with consultants, vendors and partner organizations
  • Support the operations team on real estate and facility operations matters
  • Support the communications team with intellectual property matters and in the legal review of draft communications
  • Support legislative advocacy staff on compliance with lobbying rules
  • Advise the IT team on legal questions regarding data and technology
  • Advise the Development team on charitable solicitation guidelines and registrations
  • Help manage litigation-related organizational legal affairs
  • Manage insurance responses to claims
  • Manage organizational responses to investigations and subpoenas
  • Supervise outside counsel, retained and pro bono
  • Serve as principal support and back-up to the General Counsel
  • Learn all aspects of the GC’s role and working relationships
  • Follow all major matters and be prepared to step in as lead counsel
  • In consultation with the GC, the Executive Director and other members of the executive team, help shape the role and responsibilities of the GC’s office as they continue to evolve

Candidates Must Have


  • Juris Doctor from an accredited law school; admitted to and member in good standing of the New York State Bar, or immediately eligible for admission on motion

Candidates Must Demonstrate

  • At least five years of experience providing broad legal support to comparable organizations prefered; experience in the public interest legal service context a plus
  • Competent problem-solver, able to provide creative and clear guidance with a consistent focus on the interests of BxD’s clients
  • Working knowledge of the following areas of law:
  • Charitable organizations
  • Legal ethics and the practice of law
  • Labor and employment
  • Contracts
  • Further familiarity with the following areas of law prefered:
  • Charitable solicitations
  • Torts and insurance
  • Lobbying compliance
  • Commercial real estate
  • Data and technology
  • Intellectual property
  • Detail-oriented with exceptional legal research and analytic skills
  • Excellent judgment and discretion, especially regarding confidential and sensitive matters
  • Ability to interact with tact and diplomacy at all levels of the organization and with outside individuals and firms
  • Ability to effectively and respectfully communicate, collaborate, and connect with people with various backgrounds, identities, and experiences
  • Strong organizational skills with the ability to establish plans, manage a large workload with multiple assignments and conflicting priorities, and meet deadlines
  • Ability to maintain composure and critical thinking skills under pressure
  • Dedication to the mission of The Bronx Defenders, clients represented by BxD, and the community BxD works with
  • Ability to receive feedback constructively, reflect and shift behavior accordingly
  • Commitment to raising one’s cultural consciousness and challenging oppressive practices on an interpersonal and institutional level

Salary is commensurate with experience. For candidates with 5-10 years of directly relevant experience, the salary range for this position would be approximately $160,000 to $180,000. Full-time employees are also eligible for a comprehensive benefits package including but not limited to medical, dental and vision coverage; a 403(b) plan with employer contribution; a generous vacation, sick leave, and parental leave policy; and a professional development fund. More specific information about salary and benefits will be provided when and if an offer is extended.