The Montana Innocence Project is seeking a Staff Attorney, Post-Conviction Investigative Lead to join our team!
Title: Staff Attorney, Post-Conviction Investigative Lead
Position Type: Full-time; Salaried; Exempt
Salary: $65,000-$70,000, based on experience
Benefits include: Employee Health Plan; HSA and IRA employer contributions; generous PTO; hyper-flex schedule and remote work options; State Bar of Montana annual dues and professional development
Because liberty and justice are paramount to democratic society, it is the mission of the Montana Innocence Project to free the innocent and unjustly incarcerated, and advocate for systems of Justice that are accurate, accountable, and fair for all. MTIP was founded in 2008 and is based in the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. MTIP achieves its mission through a combination of advocacy, pro bono legal representation, and education. To learn more, visit mtinnocenceproject.org.
ABOUT THE POSITION
The Staff Attorney investigates and litigates claims of actual innocence, working with a wide range of experts and investigators across the state and especially in tribal communities. Our cases include claims based on newly discovered evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, false evidence, and incentivized testimony (among other innocence issues). Our representation is client centered.
The Staff Attorney reports to the Legal Director. The position requires 40 hours of work per week. Routine travel to rural and tribal communities and prisons to visit clients and investigate cases is required.
All Montana Innocence Project employees must embrace, respect, and value diversity of perspectives and experiences. We recognize and appreciate that our work is better for having varied participants and thought partners.
THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
Candidates must possess superlative legal writing and research skills. Our cases are dynamic and require extensive motions practice and appellate briefing. Candidates must also have strong advocacy skills and be well equipped, for example, to handle court appearances for everything from evidentiary hearings to oral arguments.
People from rural and tribal communities comprise the majority of our applicants. Therefore, the ideal candidate has existing relationships in Montana’s rural and tribal communities or experience building and sustaining relationships within those communities. They are experienced in trauma-informed approaches and outreach strategies as well.
In addition, the Staff Attorney/Investigator must possess strong interpersonal and communication skills, enthusiasm for working collaboratively, and must embrace the Montana Innocence Project’s mission to not only correct individual miscarriages of justice, but to also expose and reform the systemic dysfunctions of the criminal legal system—including resource disparities, racial bias, and police and prosecutorial misconduct.
Beyond investigating and litigating cases on behalf of individual clients, the Staff Attorney also supports the Montana Innocence Project’s initiatives to improve the criminal legal system through engaging in public education regarding wrongful conviction.
- Manage a docket of individuals seeking relief from wrongful conviction
- Craft litigation strategy
- Lead litigation teams, including with pro-bono partners, local counsel, and law students
- Lead investigative efforts by managing a network of contract and volunteer investigators and overseeing the logistics of document acquisition and retention
- Direct factual post-conviction re-investigations and conduct in-person interviews of applicants, witnesses, and community members as needed (up to 25% travel)
- Author motions & briefs in connection with client representation
- Conduct evidentiary hearings
- Represent clients facing retrial after vacatur of conviction
- Conduct oral argument before trial and appellate courts
- Assist with the Innocence Project legal clinic and supervise law students as needed
- Assist with post-release planning for freed clients
Other related duties include:
- Interface with DOC staff to build informational presence in prison law libraries
- Assist in identifying appropriate applicant referral resources
- Support coalition building within criminal legal community
QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE
- 3+ years of litigation experience on behalf of indigent defendants or others accused/convicted of crimes (strong preference for post-conviction, habeas corpus, and/or federal civil rights litigation, and experience in conducting post-conviction factual re-investigations)
- Working knowledge of DNA and/or other forensic disciplines preferred
- A demonstrated and abiding commitment to social justice
- Existing relationships in Montana’s rural and tribal communities or experience building and sustaining relationships in rural and tribal communities
- Experienced in trauma-informed approaches and outreach methods preferred
- Strong research, writing, and analytic skills
- Strong advocacy skills
- Experience with complex records and presenting compelling, fact-driven narratives
- Client-centered approach to legal representation and demonstrated commitment to indigent defense and working to change the criminal legal system
- Ability to work independently at the same time as being collaborative
- Excellent interpersonal and verbal communication skills
- Interest in working with a diverse range of people
- Must be able to work with groups of diverse individuals in respectful, equitable, and inclusive ways
- Enthusiasm for the work of the Montana Innocence Project and for social justice, including a demonstrated commitment to public interest
- Shares values of equity, excellence, collaboration, humanity, integrity, respect, and accountability
WORKFORCE DIVERSITY AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYMENT
The Montana Innocence Project considers the diversity of its workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its mission. We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, ages, gender, and physical abilities to apply. Individuals with personal connections to the criminal legal system are strongly encouraged to apply.
As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.
HOW TO APPLY:
Interested applicants should email the following in PDF format: cover letter; resume; and legal writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include “Staff Attorney” in the subject line of your email.
NO PHONE CALLS, PLEASE.
DEADLINE: Position open until filled