Mental Health Staff Attorney, Municipal Court

Orleans Public DefendersNew orleans, LouisianaFull TimeOn Site


OPD is seeking a Staff Attorney for its Mental Health Unit in Municipal Court.

OPD’s Municipal Mental Health Unit (MHU-muni) provides intensive, individualized and holistic representation to clients with Serious Mental Illness and other mental health challenges facing charges in Municipal Court. MHU-muni provides ethical client-centered representation and, through individualized treatment plans, advocates for clients to be treated in medical facilities rather than jail. The paralegal supports mental health-based treatment alternatives to incarceration of chronically mentally ill clients.

The Mental Health Staff Attorney is part of OPD’s client-centered representation offering holistic legal and social services to our clients and working for fair, community-oriented, legal outcomes for our clients. In an effort to expand our level of representation, specifically in Municipal Court, the Mental Health Staff Attorney will work to reduce the reliance on incarceration for people suffering from mental health issues, work to reduce and/or eliminate prohibitive bonds and advocate for treatment-based alternatives to incarceration for clients throughout the case process. This position will require representation of clients during all phases of representation and in all sections of Municipal and Traffic Court but primarily during a mental health docket. Duties include participating in client and witness interviews, filing and litigating pretrial motions and conducting hearings, including judge trials.

The Mental Health Staff Attorney will collaborate closely with the Program Director and other members of the defense team to identify clients’ needs and develop highly individualized treatment and rehabilitation plans. Coordination and collaboration with other members of the MHU-muni team to structure an individualized treatment release plan and advocating for that plan to the court and prosecuting attorney, will be the greatest responsibility of this position.

Qualifications: Applicants must be licensed to practice law in the State of Louisiana and be in good standing. Applicants must possess at least two years of criminal defense or legal aid experience or other related work, and demonstrated commitment to indigent defense, mental health and public interest. Applicants must be interested in working with individuals charged with criminal offenses from diverse cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds and, most importantly, those suffering from mental illness and crisis. Applicants must possess the ability to communicate effectively with clients, witnesses, colleagues, staff and court personnel orally and in writing. The position requires excellent legal research and writing skills and knowledge of and commitment to the national standards of criminal defense. The ideal applicant will demonstrate comfort working in a high volume, fast-paced legal environment and multi-tasking many different responsibilities and clients. The ideal applicant will have experience working in an established public defender or legal aid office that provides services consistent with OPD’s mission of client-centered, zealous representation. Familiarity with Orleans Parish Municipal and Traffic Court and relevant mental health law and practical application are strongly favored. Additionally, candidates must be ready and willing to advance this pilot program and demonstrate its effectiveness to stakeholders and decision-makers.

To Apply: Qualified and interested applicants must submit all of the following to be considered for this position: cover letter explaining your interest in the position, resume, writing sample, and three references. Please complete the online application here. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. No phone calls.

This position is full time with competitive salary and benefits.

OPD is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants for employment will be considered without regard to race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, national origin, disability, veteran status or sexual orientation.

The Orleans Public Defenders provide representation to indigent criminal defendants in Orleans Parish. OPD’s mission is to fight for our clients by providing excellent client-centered representation, reforming the system and partnering with the community. OPD is committed to excellence in the provision of legal services for indigent defendants and client-centered representation that respects the humanity and dignity of those within the criminal justice system.

Location: 2601 Tulane Avenue
Suite 700
New Orleans,LA 70119, New Orleans, LA 70119

Job Type: Full-time

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