The Bronx Defenders – an innovative, progressive, holistic indigent defense office in the South Bronx – seeks a Masters level social worker with a passion for social justice and a commitment to tenants’ rights and housing advocacy to work with the people we represent in our Civil Action Practice. 

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 developed a groundbreaking, nationally-recognized model of representation called holistic defense that achieves better outcomes for the people we defend.

Each year, we defend more than 20,000 low-income Bronx residents in criminal, civil, family, 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 change at the local, state, and national levels. We take what we learn from the people we represent and communities that we work with and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change.

Civil Action Practice

Our Civil Action Practice (CAP) provides comprehensive legal services to the people we represent and their families by fully integrating civil representation with our criminal, family, and immigration practices. Our goal is to minimize the severe and often unforeseen fallout from criminal and family court proceedings and facilitate the seamless reintegration of the people we represent into the community. Our Civil Action Practice represents people in every forum in New York City – administrative, state, and federal – to address these problems and assist the people we represent in overcoming civil legal barriers to housing, eviction, employment, and public benefits, as well as addressing instances of police misconduct, criminal record errors, and civil forfeiture.    

Housing Justice & the Right to Counsel

Recognizing the challenges to accessing affordable, quality and safe housing in New York City, The Bronx Defenders has a team exclusively dedicated to providing tenants at risk of losing their homes with defense attorneys for their Housing Court cases. Our Housing Team was developed in response to the 2017 New York City Right-to-Counsel Law which provides tenants facing eviction in Housing Court and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) administrative proceedings with access to free legal representation. The Bronx Defenders is one of six institutional providers effectuating the Right to Counsel in housing, with dedicated attorneys and advocates who exclusively work with and represent tenants in Housing Court. 

In 2020, we created a dedicated, integrated civil social work team to work with our housing attorneys, supplement their legal defenses and provide additional support and resources to the people we represent. Out social workers are committed to a Housing First perspective, an approach to homelessness that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness quickly, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. 


Strategizing with lawyers and other advocates, social workers at The Bronx Defenders assist clients with issues that precipitate and are exacerbated by contact with the legal system. Social workers are responsible for assisting with advocacy on behalf of the people we work with, including preparing written work, gathering mitigating information, coordinating and connecting our clients with treatment programs and social service providers, and supporting the people we represent as they navigate their cases. 

The Civil Action Practice social worker, supervised by the CAP Social Work Director, will focus on the needs of clients facing eviction and other housing instability as well as clients in need of support when facing the civil consequences of multisystem entanglement. 

Client Interviewing

• Assist with interviewing the people we represent regarding their housing matter

• Assist the people we represent in identifying legal goals, strategizing to meet those goals, and assessing progress 

• Interview and assess the people we represent to identify strengths, resources, and needs

• Prepare the people we represent for court-related assessments, including requests for guardians ad litem, Article 81 guardians, adult protective services, and reasonable accommodations

• Visit the people we represent at their home, inpatient treatment programs, jails, and other facilities where they reside to gather information and offer support related to their legal case

Oral and Written Advocacy

• Provide written and oral advocacy for the people we represent

o In Housing Court and other administrative fora

o Before the Court for Order-to-Show Causes, motion for guardians ad litem, to vacate judgements, and more

o With supportive housing providers, Homebase, hospitals, long-term managed care facilities, and city/state/federal agencies

• Provide written advocacy in the form of affirmations and advocacy letters

Case Consultation

• Provide consultation to attorneys and advocates in other practices on the civil repercussions of their clients’ case

• Provide consultation to housing attorneys on housing court related matters, including but not limited to, case theory, housing court stipulations, and housing court Order-to-Show Causes 

• Provide consultation to housing court attorneys on challenges in client communication, including but not limited to client’s ability to talk through allegations, attorney’s ability to counsel them, attorney’s ability to gather information from them, and client competency

• Collaborate with mental health experts to determine what kinds of evaluations are necessary for the case, analyze assessment results, and identify experts who can speak to the narratives of the people we represent.

• Interpret external assessments and medical & clinical records to help attorneys develop legal strategies for the people we represent.

Case Related Advocacy and Case Management

• Assist the people we represent outside of court to help them overcome barriers to reaching their housing court goal while navigating various legal systems and civil legal processes 

• Work collaboratively with the people we represent, lawyers and other advocates on multidisciplinary holistic defense and housing teams to achieve clients’ stated legal goals, including to: 

o Connect the people we represent with a wide variety of social services and benefits, and provide case management support and advocacy 

o Advocate for the people we represent across immigration, criminal and family court settings related to civil needs including, but not limited to, housing, benefits and shelter related matters

o Provide advocacy to those applying for supportive housing 

o Establish the rights of those residing in supportive housing

Client Support

• Provide crisis intervention

• Provide supportive counseling to the people we represent as they navigate their legal cases

• Help prepare the people we represent for trial and other hearings in Housing Court and to access benefits

• Attend appointments, meetings, and court events with the people we represent

Community Education and Training

• Facilitate and support meetings and trainings for the Civil Action Practice and the Social Work Practice to provide information on CAP Social Work’s scope of work

• Provide community-facing education on CAPSW related areas

• Support and participate in pipelines, including intern trainings, supervision and mentorship


To be eligible, candidates must have: 

• Masters of Social Work from an accredited School of Social Work

Candidates must demonstrate: 

● Commitment to challenging systemic injustice and carceral systems 

● Commitment to anti-eviction and housing first perspective 

● Commitment to directly defending people ensnared in family, criminal, civil, and immigration legal systems

● Experience working in and with racially, ethnically and socioeconomically marginalized communities 

● Ability to effectively and respectfully communicate, collaborate and connect with people with various backgrounds, identities and experiences 

● Ability to work well independently and collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team of lawyers, non-lawyers and external service providers

● Commitment to fierce advocacy, and willingness to strategically challenge authority in defense of the people we represent

● Effective verbal and written advocacy skills

● Ability to establish and maintain collaborative relationships with external partners and service providers

● Strong analytical skills and capacity to employ non-legal resources

● Meticulous attention to detail

● Ability to multitask, maintain order and meet deadlines in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment 

● Ability to think critically and creatively in fast-paced settings, finding innovative solutions to unique obstacles

● Ability to receive constructive feedback, demonstrate introspection and shift behavior accordingly

● Ability to exercise excellent judgment, discretion, and confidentiality with sensitive matters

● Commitment to raising one’s cultural consciousness and challenging oppressive practices on an interpersonal and institutional level

● Knowledge and comfort working with people who experience mental health, substance use, and trauma

Preferred, but not required: 

● Experience providing client advocacy related to housing and benefits 

● Spanish language proficiency 

● Knowledge of New York City’s institutions and social service systems

This is a primarily in-person position. 

Salary is commensurate with experience.  For candidates with 1-5 years of directly relevant experience, the salary range for this position would be approximately $76,000-85000.  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. More specific information about salary and benefits will be provided when and if an offer is extended. 

Approximately 70% of The Bronx Defenders’ staff, including attorneys and non-attorneys, are represented by UAW Local 2325 – Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (AFL-CIO). This position is within the bargaining unit. 

This position is exempt. By law, non-exempt employees are compensated hourly based on their annual rate and therefore are entitled to over-time, whereas exempt employees are not.