Contractual Assistant Public Defender: Parental Defense Division's Preventive Legal Advocacy Project

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Job location
6 Saint Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States
Organization information
Organization name: 
Office of the Public Defender
Street address: 
6 Saint Paul Street
Job type: 
Legal - Defender
Position Description: 

The Better Together Early Family Advocacy Program utilizes a multidisciplinary team to support parents who are being investigated by the Department of Social Services (DSS) and are at risk of having their children separated from them and placed in foster care. Better Together aims to prevent family separation and ensure that children are not unnecessarily placed in the foster system. The team consists of a lawyer, social worker, and parent advocate who will provide distinct services relevant to their area of expertise that respond to the issues identified for the individual client. The lawyer’s advocacy will include advising parents of their rights and responsibilities in terms of responding to DSS and meeting their children’s needs, assisting parents in making custodial arrangements for their children with family members, taking actions to protect against domestic violence, resolving criminal warrants, and assisting with removing legal impediments to keeping custody of their children. The position will also include providing legal representation in administrative hearings and in some emergency Child In Need of Assistance (CINA) hearings if a petition is filed in Circuit Court.

By providing these services early in the investigation, parents will be better equipped to successfully resolve concerns arising during the investigation, avoid having a CINA petition filed against them, and prevent family separation. This project is funded by a grant from the Maryland Judiciary, Foster Care Court Improvement Program, and the Casey Family Programs and is expected to run through December 2024. This position will be located in Baltimore City, Maryland.

● Protect clients’ Constitutional rights to raise and rear their children by providing prepetition legal services to parents when they come into contact with DSS, informing clients as to their rights and responsibilities, and advocating for them as they navigate their involvement with DSS before a court petition is filed.
● Engage in prepetition legal advocacy and radical early defense strategies to avoid family separation and foster care.
● Organize and participate in community outreach to disseminate information about the Better Together Program.
● Assign legal externs to obtain, organize, and review records and documents relevant to the issues sought to be resolved to avoid a CINA petition from being filed.
● If a CINA petition is filed, appear at the initial shelter care hearing to assist or brief the assigned APD in circumstances where appropriate, or prepare a transfer memo to the assigned shelter attorney.
● If a CINA petition is filed, prepare a transfer memorandum and case file to be given to the assigned APD so APD can prepare for the shelter care hearing or non-emergency hearing.
● Develop and maintain client relationships over the extended pendency of the case.
● Collaborate with PDD social workers, criminal defense attorneys, parent advocates, immigration attorneys, and others as part of a multidisciplinary defense team.
● Maintain records and data to enable OPD to track the outcome of cases.
● Ensure clients are consistently heard and respected.
● Engage with clients who are experiencing challenges and legal/societal/intellectual barriers in a nonjudgmental and empathetic manner.
● Effectively and compassionately communicate with clients, colleagues, and service providers to ensure optimal outcomes for clients.
● Continuously seek professional and personal development through training, continuing legal education, and trial skills courses.
● Supervise law school interns.

Salary is dependent on experience and salary rules will apply to State of Maryland employees. Please visit the State of Maryland Employee’s page to review benefit information.

Assistant Public Defender I: Grade 20, Step 06 $40.27 per hour to Step 24 $56.88 per hour.
Assistant Public Defender II: Grade 21, Step 08 $44.67 per hour to Step 24 $60.68 per hour.
Assistant Public Defender III: Grade 22, Step 10 $49.49 per hour to Step 24 $64.76 per hour.


● Demonstrated commitment to serving marginalized communities.
● Dedicated to dismantling racist, prejudiced, unfair systems.
● Ability to work independently and autonomously.
● Compassion and empathy.
● Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate effectively with people with different backgrounds and experiences.
● Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, diverse, team-oriented environment.
● Ability to use technology to telework and participate in virtual court hearings and meetings as necessary.
● Strong organizational, legal, and administrative skills necessary to handle a high caseload with short deadlines.
● Prior experience in litigation including CINA/TPR, Criminal, Civil, Juvenile, or Family Law (experience may include internships, law school clinical programs, or any other relevant experience).
● Strong communication and client advocacy skills.
● Active membership in good standing in the Maryland Bar or Bar of another state. Individuals who are members of the Bar of another State must be admitted to the Maryland Bar within 18 months of the start date.

To apply: 

If you wish to be considered, please click here to fill out the application and upload the following documents in one PDF attachment on the Resume Tab in the JobAps Application: (1) a current resume, (2) a cover letter, and (3) a list of four professional references, (4) writing sample no longer than 15 pages, and (5) an official/unofficial law school transcript (if graduated from within the past 3 years).

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

As a State agency, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender (MOPD) is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. MOPD is committed to the full inclusion of all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran status, or genetic information. All applicants must be able to communicate with clients and visitors and possess the ability to complete tasks in a fast-paced work environment. Applicants must be able to work in various positions and travel to various courtrooms and office environments throughout the state. MOPD is further committed to providing equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities in employment, its services, programs, and activities by modifying or adjusting the job application process or the job or work environment to make reasonable accommodations to the known applicant or employee to enable the applicant or employee be considered for the position they desire; to perform the essential functions of the position in question; or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by other similarly situated employees without disabilities, unless the accommodation imposes an undue hardship. Applicants must be able to operate a computer and other office equipment. Applicants must have access to a motor vehicle or be able to navigate public transportation. If a reasonable accommodation is needed, please contact Tawanda Jackson, Human Resources Supervisor, 410-767-8503 [email protected] Applicants can expect a background check to occur after a conditional offer of employment is made. As we see lived experiences as an asset to this role, we do not anticipate background checks playing a decisive role in the selection process. Accordingly, we encourage all candidates to apply, regardless of criminal, credit, or driving history. Assistant Public Defenders are full-time employees who serve at the pleasure of the Public Defender. Criminal Procedure Art., Section 16-203(d). Assistant Public Defenders cannot engage in the private practice of law while in this position.
Salary range: 
Dependent on Experience
Submission deadline: 
Sunday, March 31, 2024