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National Legal Counsel

Req ID: 5155
Location: Chicago - Loop
# of Openings: 1
FT/PT: Full time
Employment Type: Regular
Salary Schedule:
Job Notes:


About NIJC

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) advances human rights and due process for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers through direct legal services, impact litigation, advocacy and public education.  Headquartered in Chicago with offices in Washington, DC and Indiana, NIJC’s team of 90 attorneys, paralegals and professionals, along with 1,500 pro bono attorneys, NIJC is at the forefront of immigration reform.


About the position

The National Legal Counsel (NLC) will be a senior position that works across the NIJC’s legal services, litigation, policy and communications teams to provide a unique approach to human rights advancement at a time when immigrant communities are increasingly under attack. In this capacity, the NLC will oversee implementation of NIJC’s systemic reform agenda through the delivery of strategic immigration legal services on a national and, when appropriate, local level. In consultation with NIJC project supervisors, the NLC will ensure the provision of legal representation in key immigration cases that carry impact on a national scale with regard to NIJC’s priority issue areas including harsh immigration detention and enforcement policies as well as access to asylum. Some of the work will require rapid response and travel to respond to the issues facing the immigrant community. The NLC will be directly supervised by the Legal Director and will work closely with Director of Policy and the Directors of the Litigation and Legal Services teams.


Job duties include:

  1. Coordinate with policy and management teams to identify communications/ policy/litigation priorities where targeted representation is critical to advancing goals

  2. Identify and build relationships with key partners in key geographic locations to refer potential cases 

  3. Identify through screening and in-take strategic cases for impact – nationally and locally – and assess client’s willingness to share their stories with the media, public, legislators, etc.

  4. Manage legal representation of impact cases either through direct representation or placement and mentorship of pro bono partners, including representation in the immigration courts, USCIS, Board of Immigration Appeals and, when appropriate, federal court. Develop and implement protocol to ensure that policy and communications goals are pursued at each stage of representation.

  5. In consultation with NIJC supervisors, develop and pursue advocacy efforts that document human rights abuses witnessed through direct representation cases, including utilizing grievance mechanisms available through international agencies and domestic watchdog agencies. Coordinate closely with communications team to elevate.

  6. Coordinate with national pro bono firms and recruit pro bono partners for cases as appropriate.

  7. Evaluate the project and develop long-term strategic plan for national representation work.

  8. Maintain a commitment to elevating the voices of persons impacted by harmful immigration detention and enforcement policies through creative approaches to communications and policy work and intensive coordination with NIJC’s Washington, DC and Chicago-based communications and policy teams.


Competencies include:

  • Deep knowledge of immigration law and procedure

  • Understanding of the pro bono culture and experience working with pro bono attorneys

  • Experience managing an immigration legal services program

  • Experience achieving results within a climate of change, where external forces remain uncertain and where stakeholders may have conflicting objectives

  • Exceptional communicator, ability to work with a diverse, talented group of legal professionals, building trust, collaboration and a culture that welcomes change

  • Demonstrated strength in managing and resolving conflict

  • Subscribes to NIJC values, advancing due process and human rights protections for immigrants and refugees

  • Experience balancing long-term strategic vision with short-term implementation

  • Experience seeing the big picture and advancing reform while providing individual legal representation

  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills

  • Demonstrated skill in maintaining the balance between legal representation and advocacy



  • Proven experience as an attorney, with a track record of success in legal services leadership

  • Immigration law experience required, refugee experience a plus.

  • At least 10 years of successful representation of immigrants and refugees and advocacy and communications teams to achieve goals.

  • Excellent analytical skills, proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite.

  • JD required



Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions without regard to race, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the Organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September, 1987. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodation should contact the Employee Services Office at +1 (312) 660-1431.

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