Staff Attorney at Kids in Need of Defense

About KIND:

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is a global leader in the protection of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children. Launched in 2008, KIND champions a world in which every child’s rights and well-being are protected throughout their journey to safety. Since 2008, KIND has accepted over 23,000 referrals of children seeking legal representation in their immigration proceedings. KIND has welcomed more than 41,000 attendees to trainings since its founding, cultivating partnerships with over 670 law firms, corporate legal departments, law schools, and bar associations across the country.

KIND’s social services program ensures that migrant and refugee children – who have often endured trauma – receive counseling, educational support, medical care and other comprehensive services.

To address the root causes of child migration from Central America and strengthen protection of unaccompanied children, KIND advocates for policy changes and educates lawmakers, the media, and the broader public on the conditions that drive these children to flee their home countries. KIND supports children returning to their home countries by connecting them to essential support services and sponsors gender-based violence prevention programs in Central America to protect children in countries of origin and transit.

KIND is also building upon its expertise in the protection of unaccompanied children to encourage the development of pro bono initiatives across Europe in partnership with European NGOs.

Position Summary:

KIND México seeks a Staff Attorney to help carry out efforts to provide unaccompanied children with initial legal orientations, protection screenings, and options counseling in collaboration with civil society and government-run shelters for unaccompanied children in México. Based in Tijuana, México, this position will be housed in KIND’s Legal Strategy and Special Programs (SSP) team and will report to the Managing Attorney for KIND México.

The Staff Attorney will work closely with the Senior Attorney, Social Services Coordinator, Paralegal and government and NGO contacts to identify children in need of KIND’s services and conduct screenings and intakes and know-your-rights orientations to unaccompanied children in and around Tijuana. S/he will play a key role in carrying out the representation and accompaniment of children seeking safety in the U.S. The Staff Attorney will help build engagement and coordination with local coalitions of service providers. S/he may plan and assist in overseeing the activities of bono attorneys and other volunteers deployed to the border to assist in protecting the rights of unaccompanied children attempting to access U.S. protection at a port of entry.

Essential Functions:

  • Ensure that unaccompanied children residing in shelters and other facilities in Mexico have access to know-your-rights orientations and options counseling;
  • Ensure that particularly vulnerable children are screened for protection needs and relief and that pertinent referrals for services are made to NGO and other partners, in addition to pursuing protection strategies;
  • Build relationships across the border with other legal and community organizations supporting unaccompanied children, identifying gaps in services where KIND’s expertise can supplement existing programs;
  • Undertake direct legal counsel functions, including: legal research and formulating the legal strategy for individual cases; conducting client interviews; and appearing before immigration agencies as needed;
  • Monitor treatment of unaccompanied Mexican children and compliance with their rights under U.S. law, advocating where possible for full access to protection under U.S. law;
  • Coordinate with KIND’s U.S. field offices to ensure continuity of representation where possible;
  • In cases where KIND is not in a position to represent an unaccompanied child, work with the Program Coordinator, Paralegal and other Legal Programs team colleagues to refer the case to other service providers;
  • Conduct presentations and trainings on U.S. law regarding unaccompanied children for a broad range of stakeholders on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border;
  • Coordinate the activities of KIND’s legal services staff and pro bono volunteers deployed on a temporary basis to Mexico to assist in carrying out the functions the project;
  • Help ensure cross-component collaboration with KIND’s Policy and Advocacy and Communications teams and Regional team;
  • Attend meetings, conferences, and other events as a representative of KIND;
  • Ensure entry of timely, accurate, and detailed case data into KIND’s case management systems;
  • Support reporting and grant proposals as needed;
  • Contribute to overall team functioning, including joining team meetings and organization-wide calls and meetings; participating in team, office, and KIND-wide committees; and assisting with office events; and,
  • As needed, supervise Paralegals, Program Assistants, Program Coordinators, interns, and/or other non-legal staff including: onboarding, skills training, daily support and coaching, review and quality assurance of filings, regular check-ins and performance evaluations, and provision of consistent and effective supervision and oversight.
  • Collaborate on social services programming for clients and pro bono attorneys in conjunction with the Social Services Team, including local field office Social Services Coordinator(s).
  • As a member of the management team in the Legal Programs department, the Managing Attorney is expected to uphold the following leadership characteristics:
  • Meaningfully contribute thought leadership and expertise to advance KIND’s mission and the strategic goals and objectives of the Legal Programs Team
  • Offer new insights into challenges and opportunities; evaluate conventional approaches and provide and encourage new ideas and innovations; and explore and implement new or cutting-edge programs/processes in collaboration with leadership
  • Partner with organizational leadership on conflict resolution
  • Deal effectively with pressure and remain optimistic and persistent, even in an uncertain and challenging environment
  • Together with other members of the management team, embrace leadership values and a work ethic that exemplifies authenticity, goodwill, transparency, and collaboration
  • Inspire and foster team commitment, spirit, trust, and employee wellness
  • Facilitate cooperation and motivate team members to accomplish group goals

Qualifications and Requirements:

  • J.D. or equivalent from accredited U.S. or Mexican law school and admission to the bar in at least one U.S. state or territory and/or Mexico (cédula professional or equivalent);
  • 2+ years of experience practicing immigration law required, including representation of clients in humanitarian immigration claims such as asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U visas and T visas, or similar protections under Mexican law;
  • Experience working with legal staff or volunteers preferred;
  • 2+ years of experience working with children, preferably immigrant and refugee children, or experience working with survivors of abuse, human trafficking, or other trauma;
  • Exposure to or familiarity with Mexican immigration system and child welfare laws preferred;
  • Demonstrated record of cultural competence and cross-cultural communication skills; professional experience in Latin America preferred.
  • Demonstrated writing and public speaking/training skills;
  • Ability to take initiative, multi-task, and work independently;
  • Ability to handle discreet, sensitive, and confidential information appropriately and exercise judgement in a fast-paced environment;
  • Spanish and English fluency (written and oral) required. Familiarity with Mexican and Central American legal documents and vocabulary highly preferred.

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