Georgia Justice Project (GJP) is looking for an attorney who is committed to advancing criminal justice reform and racial justice through individual representation of clients and engaging with underserved communities to join our amazing criminal records and reentry team. After a hard-fought battle over several years, GJP successfully advocated to expand record clearing (expungement) in Georgia through the passage of SB 288 and we are now building our team to meet the overwhelming need for legal assistance and education about the new law. It is an exciting time to do reentry work now that so many more people can move past their criminal record and access opportunity under the new law – if they can access legal assistance.
GJP is a 35-year-old non-profit located in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward and our work spans three areas: Holistic Criminal Defense and Probation Representation; Advocacy and Education; and Reentry Lawyering including Criminal Records. You can read more about our work at www.GJP.org.
Criminal Records/Reentry Work
Background: In 2006, GJP started representing individuals displaced when Atlanta’s housing projects were torn down who were unable to obtain a housing voucher due to their criminal history. Since then, our work around barriers to reentry has expanded exponentially. We now represent hundreds of individuals each year with record restriction (expungement), sealing, corrections, pardons, and other matters related to their criminal history.
We are the state experts on criminal records. Our reentry and criminal records team frequently makes presentations to impacted individuals and communities, volunteers, and stakeholders around the state, and, over the last few years, GJP has helped plan and provide technical assistance for record restriction summits throughout Georgia. Our reentry work has expanded to include housing discrimination, occupational licensing issues, driver’s license suspensions, child support advocacy, and other civil legal work related to barriers to reentry.
SB288: Georgia’s new law is a significant expansion of expungement eligibility, allowing restriction and sealing of misdemeanor convictions and pardoned felony convictions. SB 288 went into effect January 1, 2021, making over 1.5 million Georgians eligible to clear their criminal history. As a result, demand for our services has greatly increased – and it was already high. We are developing ways to increase the impact of our work and ensure that as many people can take advantage of the new law as possible. One strategy is partnering with local jurisdictions to implement “expungement desks” at various locations around the state – our first one will open in June!
Urgent Need: The Criminal Records/Reentry Attorney will spend most of their time (80%) on the representation of and consultation with individuals who want to modify and seal their criminal records. Some consultations will take place at record restriction summits and expungement desks both in the metro Atlanta areas and around the state (occasional travel required). For the remainder of the time (20%), the attorney will provide legal assistance with other civil reentry barriers, assist with developing and updating materials, make presentations to various stakeholders on reentry issues, and working with the team to develop plans to use technology to increase access to record clearing.
The ideal candidate will have two years of client-facing legal experience; be well-organized; have experience communicating with diverse partners such as community groups, volunteers, prosecutors, and judges; have an interest in learning about and practicing in diverse areas of the law related to barriers to reentry; and be excited about bringing record clearing events, resources, and education to communities around the state. Knowledge of and interest in using technology to provide legal services to underserved communities would be a bonus.
- Licensed Attorney with the State Bar of Georgia (required, applicants must be currently admitted in Georgia)
- A demonstrated commitment to social and racial justice and an understanding of how poverty and race factor into the criminal legal system
- Ability to advocate assertively and effectively for low-income individuals
- Ability to engage respectfully with diverse groups of people
- Strong attention to detail
- Excellent written communication and research skills
- Experience with or willingness to work with student interns, volunteers, and volunteer lawyers.
- Willingness to perform administrative tasks (GJP has a small support staff – most staff are engaged in program delivery and client services)
- Enthusiasm and energy for the difficult work of challenging and reforming the criminal legal system
- The ability to effectively manage the multiple priorities and fast pace of a non-profit workplace.
- Ability to work occasional evenings or Saturdays for special events or projects, occasional travel
- Driver’s license (required)
- Familiarity/expertise in Office 365 and Salesforce (or other client database) preferred.
Interested candidates should send a cover letter addressed to GJP’s legal director Brenda Smeeton, resume, and brief writing sample (no more than five pages) combined as a single PDF document to careers@GJP.org. Subject line must state, “Attorney Position-Reentry”. Compensation commensurate with experience and the non-profit environment. We hope to fill this position quickly and encourage applicants to submit their materials as soon as possible.
Georgia Justice Project is an equal opportunity employer, committed to building a diverse staff and welcomes qualified applicants of all races, colors, religions, national origins, sexes, gender identities, sexual orientations, and disability statuses. GJP encourages people who are formerly incarcerated or justice-involved to apply.