THE NEIGHBORHOOD DEFENDER SERVICE OF HARLEM (NDS) is a community-based, client-centered, holistic public defense office located in Harlem, providing criminal, civil, and family representation.  NDS Clients are represented by multidisciplinary teams. NDS is accepting applications for the position of Retained Intake Advocate with the Criminal Defense Practice.

The Criminal Defense Practice at NDS represents residents of Northern Manhattan who are charged with crimes who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.  Clients are represented by teams composed of lawyers, investigators, social workers, team administrators and interns. NDS also provides pre-arrest representation to clients under threat of arrest.  NDS adheres to a client-centered approach to representation that emphasizes a heightened responsiveness to clients’ needs prior to arrest, while a case is pending, and after the case concludes. NDS is committed to addressing the comprehensive legal and social service needs of clients.  

POSITION PURPOSE:  Reporting to the Managing Attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice, the DAT Retained Intake Advocate serves as initial point of contact for community intake clients who seek representation, including those who have been issued Desk Appearance Tickets to appear in court.  The Retained Intake Advocate supports clients and collaborates with interdisciplinary team to provide vigorous post-arrest representation and works closely with the retained intake and arraignment staff.


  1. Meet with potential clients (or family member if the potential client is in custody or otherwise unavailable) who have been issued a DAT or are being investigated for or charged with a crime.  Gather preliminary information.
  2. Check for conflicts and screen for holistic consequences.
  3. Foster communication between various team members.
  4. Connect client with retained intake attorney.
  5. Enter data regarding NDS’ DAT practice and other community intake clients and cases promptly, accurately and completely into the case management system and maintain integrity of the database.
  6. Assist in the preparation of data reports required by New York City and New York State.
  7. Create case files and assemble documents.


  1. Substantial interaction with police, other City investigative agencies, court personnel, family members as well as NDS team members.
  2. Accompany clients to precinct for surrender, if necessary.
  3. Track clients from arrest, DAT issuance, DAT return date and arraignment to ensure effective, seamless representation and compliance with procedural requirements.


  1. Must possess a demonstrated commitment to civil rights, indigent defense, social justice issues and/or the Harlem communities.
  2. Must possess strong organizational skills in order to manage a high caseload and multi-task in a very fast-paced environment.
  3. Must possess excellent interpersonal, analytical, writing, and communication skills.
  4. Must be able to work cooperatively in a team setting under significant time pressure.
  5. Must possess experience in word processing and a basic knowledge of computer usage in a network environment.
  6. Bilingual applicants are encouraged to apply.  Spanish language fluency is preferred.


Compensation is commensurate with experience and is in adherence to the NDS compensation scale.  Full medical and dental benefits, as well as other benefits, are provided.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume to with the subject line, “Retained Intake Advocate.”  Please send your application as a one document attachment, preferably PDF.  

The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem is committed to creating a diverse environment that reflects the community we serve.  NDS is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.