Georgia Justice Project (GJP) is excited to add three new positions to our committed legal team. GJP is a 33-year-old non-profit located in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. Our work spans three areas: Holistic Criminal Defense, Advocacy and Education, and Re-entry Lawyering. GJP is funded primarily through private donations and currently has 17 staff members including lawyers, social workers, legal assistants, and development and administrative staff.
GJP is seeking three full-time staff attorneys as described below:
Georgia Justice Project has been engaged in policy advocacy, mostly around criminal records and re-entry issues, for a little over ten years, but we are looking to expand the scope of our work. We worked closely with the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform under former Gov. Nathan Deal. We advocated for multiple successful changes to the law to reduce barriers to reentry and alleviate the collateral consequences of a criminal history including: expanding expungement (record restriction); rewriting the First Offender Act; creating certificates of program and treatment completion; improving the way criminal records are considered for occupational licensing; and removing the lifetime ban on food stamps for people convicted of a felony drug conviction. We are currently leading an aggressive and collaborative campaign to expand expungement of convictions (www.SecondChanceGeorgia.org). Current and future areas for advocacy include probation reform, driver’s license fines and fees, voting, and child support reform. The goals of our policy agenda are to reduce the number of people under correctional control in Georgia and to increase access to opportunity and economic success for people and communities impacted by the criminal legal system.
The ideal candidate will have a track record of successfully advocating for policy change at the state level; have strong research and writing skills; have experience drafting legislation; and bring experience working with diverse stakeholders, including directly impacted people, legislators, community advocates, government agencies, and employers. We are open to a non-attorney for this position, but legislative research and drafting experience is essential.
Criminal Defense Attorney
GJP has been on the cutting edge of holistic defense representation for our entire history. Our goal has always been to provide zealous and client-centered representation of the highest quality, combined with holistic social service support. Each of our clients is assigned a social worker and the attorney and social worker work together closely to support the client and obtain the best outcome in the case. GJP primarily represents individuals with pending cases in Fulton and DeKalb counties. We interview applicants and attempt to choose clients who can benefit from and fully utilize our holistic representation model. If our clients are convicted we visit them while they are in prison and help them develop a re-entry plan when they are released. GJP’s defense team also assists men who are incarcerated in the Metro Reentry Facility by resolving pending charges to ensure the best chance for success upon release. A focus for the new attorney hired will be to expand our representation of individuals facing probation revocations, which may involve representing clients beyond the metro area to test recent policy reforms and inform our legislative goals. The attorney will help develop this new component of GJP’s work through representation, creating materials, and providing trainings.
The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 3-5 years of criminal defense experience, including representing individuals on felony charges; have trial experience; have experience working collaboratively; be committed to finding the best resolution for our clients; and have a deep commitment to engaging with clients.
Around 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 re-entry 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 considered to be the state expert on criminal records and have drafted a comprehensive manual on criminal records in Georgia, which is in its 4th edition. Our criminal records team frequently makes presentations to 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 re-entry work has expanded to include child support advocacy, housing discrimination, occupational licensing issues, driver’s license suspensions, and other civil legal work related to barriers to re-entry. Over the last year we have also worked to assess and address the civil legal needs of men who are incarcerated at the Metro Reentry Facility. This attorney will assist with various civil barriers, but will focus on criminal records issues and developing materials and coordinating GJP’s work with local jurisdictions around the state on record restriction summits.
The ideal candidate will have a minimum of two years of 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 re-entry; and be excited about bringing record clearing events and education to underserved communities around the state.
Preferred Qualifications for All Positions
- Licensed Attorney with the State Bar of Georgia (not required for policy position)
- 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 in recruiting and working with student interns and volunteers
- Willingness to perform some administrative tasks (GJP has a small administrative support staff and we all pitch in to help where needed)
- Enthusiasm and energy for the difficult work of 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)
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 Yasemin@GJP.org. Subject line must state, “Policy Lead Position”, “Attorney Position-Re-entry”, or “Attorney Position-Defense.” These three positions will remain open until filled. We will begin reviewing submitted application packets and scheduling interviews on October 28th. No phone calls please.
Georgia Justice Project is an equal opportunity employer, which is committed to building a diverse staff and we welcome 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.