Immigration Staff Attorneys – Albany, Buffalo & Newburgh, NY

Immigration Staff Attorney Positions – Albany & Buffalo, New York

Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (PLS) is seeking the immediate hire of immigration attorneys in its Albany, Buffalo or Newburgh offices. Attorneys will provide free legal representation to individuals incarcerated in New York State in removal proceedings in the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP), and to individuals in immigration detention at the Albany and Clinton County Jails, whose cases are calendared at the Batavia Immigration Court in Batavia, NY.

Overview
PLS is a non-profit legal services organization providing civil legal services to indigent individuals in New York State correctional facilities in cases where no other counsel is available. Founded in 1976 in response to the Attica uprising, PLS has regional offices in Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca and Plattsburgh.

As part of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), PLS provides free legal representation to non-citizens incarcerated in New York State prison facing immigration removal proceedings under the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP) and individuals in immigration detention at the Albany and Clinton County Jails. These proceedings take place at the Bedford Hills, Downstate, and Ulster Immigration Courts, located inside New York State correctional facilities in upstate New York and at the Batavia Immigration Court in Batavia, NY.

Job Description
The ideal candidate would have strong research, writing, and oral advocacy skills; the ability to work in a collaborative and dynamic team environment; excellent organizational skills; and a commitment to serving indigent clients convicted of crimes. Clinical or professional background in immigration and / or criminal law is preferred.

Languages
Fluency in Spanish is preferred. Please note all language skills and level of proficiency in your application.

Salary and Benefits & EEO Policy
Salary is commensurate with experience. PLS offers a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, short and long-term disability, life insurance, and a 401(k) retirement plan. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of sex, race, color, age, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, pregnancy or veteran status, or any other status protected by applicable law.

Deadline to Apply
Applications will be reviewed on an on-going basis.

How to Apply
Please submit your cover letter, resume, writing sample, and three (3) references by mail or email to: Patricia Kane, Prisoners’ Legal Services of NY, 41 State St., Suite M112, Albany, NY 12207 or to pkane@plsny.org. Include “PLS Immigration Attorney” in the subject line along with your preference for office location. No phone calls please.

PLS CHALLENGES WITHHOLDING OF EVIDENCE REQUESTED THROUGH FOIL

PLS CHALLENGES WITHHOLDING OF EVIDENCE REQUESTED THROUGH FOIL

Timely access to prison records is critical to PLS’s ability to provide effective representation to our clients. Our primary means of obtaining records for initial investigations and advocacy is New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). We recently argued an appeal before the Appellate Division, Third Department challenging DOCCS’ withholding of videos and narrative incident reports requested through FOIL. DOCCS relied on several FOIL exemptions to justify withholding these records, including the “law enforcement,” “safety,” and “intra-agency materials” exemptions (Public Officers Law § 89[2][e], [f], and [g]).

 

 

The law requires that an agency articulate a “particularized and specific justification” when exempting records from disclosure, and our position was that DOCCS did not meet this standard. For example, some of the video at issue depicted a prison yard incident. DOCCS asserted that disclosure would create a risk of retaliation against individuals who could be identified from the video. We argued that DOCCS’ speculative concern about retaliation did not justify the safety exemption, in part because the video showed nothing more than what was readily observable to dozens of people present during the incident—a factor that weighs against withholding under the safety exemption (see Matter of Buffalo Broadcasting. Co. v. New York State Dep’t of Corr. Servs., 174 A.D.2d 212 [3d Dep’t 1992]). We also argued that DOCCS’ alleged safety concerns were undermined by the fact that prison officials had already shown the video to several incarcerated people in the context of disciplinary hearings to allow them to identify others, which was one of the very risks that DOCCS later claimed to justify withholding under FOIL.  

 

 

In addition to the videos withheld under the safety exemption, PLS challenged DOCCS’ denial of records that the agency eventually produced after litigation was pending. Ordinarily, production of records will make any challenge to their withholding moot. We asked the Court to grant an exception to the mootness doctrine and rule on the issues presented in order to address DOCCS’ misapplication of the law enforcement and intra-agency materials exemptions to surveillance videos and unusual incident reports. We argued that DOCCS’ withholding of those records presented novel and important questions about how the agency interprets the relevant FOIL exemptions, and that their misinterpretation of the exemptions is likely to continue in ways that will escape the Court’s review.

  

 

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP provided pro bono representation to PLS in this matter before both Albany Supreme Court and the Appellate Division. 

 

Luke Millar – Immigration Law Graduate

Luke Millar

Immigration Law Graduate

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Luke is a recent graduate of Washington and Lee Law School  where he interned in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. This unit provided Luke with experience in representing detained individuals in removal proceedings.  Luke also worked as an Immigration Research Assistant and interned for Harvard University’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic.

 

Luke was originally raised in Ithaca, New York and attended SUNY Geneseo.  He has a wide array of experiences from working to bring environmental justice to an indigenous community  in Guatemala to volunteering with a foundation committed to providing education for children in South African Townships. He also was the Manager of a restaurant in Geneseo during his time as an undergraduate student.

Grace Devane – Legal Secretary

Grace Devane

Legal Secretary

(518) 438-8046 ext. 1100

Grace Devane recently joined PLS after graduating in May of 2022 from St. Lawrence University where she earned her B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing. Throughout her college experience, Grace volunteered with a correctional facility participating in weekly game nights and eventually leading fitness classes for the residents of the facility. She felt particularly inspired by this experience, which motivated her interest in prison reform work and led her to PLS. In the past, Grace has really enjoyed working in childcare and outdoor education. She particularly enjoys spending her free time exploring Adirondack park and sharing her love of the outdoors with others. 

Jonathan Feldman – General Counsel

Jonathan Feldman

General Counsel

(518) 438-8046 ext. xxxx

Jonathan Feldman is General Counsel for PLS.  He worked for the Empire Justice Center for 24 years – as a Senior Attorney from 1997-2018, and as Legal Director from 2019-2022.  His primary focus has been civil rights, especially education law.  He has litigated impact cases in the areas of special education, bilingual education, school desegregation, and equitable school funding.  He has taught education law at Seton Hall Law School and the University of Rochester, and has co-authored two editions of the textbook, Education Law (Routledge: 2014 and 2021).

He has also taught legal ethics, legal writing, and clinical courses at Cornell Law School and Syracuse University College of Law.  During the 1990s, he worked for the Education Law Center in Newark, NJ, and the Community Service Society in New York City.  A graduate of Oberlin College and NYU Law School, he clerked for the Hon. James T. Giles, a federal district judge, and the first African American to be named partner at a major Philadelphia law firm (1975).

On the side, he plays in blues and jazz groups (piano and vocals).  Jonathan Feldman Trio on Spotify; Jonathan Feldman channel on YouTube.

Elementor #8883

Gina Andrade

Paralegal/Legal Secretary
(518) 694-8699 ext. 2112

Gina was born in Brooklyn, New York. Gina graduated from the University at Albany, SUNY with a bachelor’s degree in Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino studies. She is currently in the master’s program there and is set to graduate with her Master’s in May 2022. Starting in the fall she will be pursuing her Ph.D. Her research interests are in Mexico specifically transnational families, and femicide. She intends to stay in academia being a college professor and at some point, having the opportunity to teach in Mexico. She has gotten the opportunity to travel to Japan, Ecuador and Puerto Rico, and hopes to continue traveling to many other places. In her free time, Gina likes to read, try different boba places and dog-sit.

PLS Response to the Buffalo TOPS Shooting

PLS Response to the Buffalo TOPS Shooting

Our hearts are with the families, friends, and community of the victims of the horrific racially motivated massacre at the Jefferson Avenue TOPS in Buffalo. To help the community in Buffalo heal, consider a donation to one of the following organizations***:

 

PLS condemns white supremacy in every form. In the wake of this tragedy, we are reminded of the words of civil rights activist John Lewis:  “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”

 

*** PLS is not affiliated with any of the above organizations

CALL FOR POETRY SUBMISSIONS

CALL FOR POETRY SUBMISSIONS

CONVICTIONS BEYOND A CONVICTION

HELP PRISONERS’ LEGAL SERVICES CELEBRATE NATIONAL PRO BONO WEEK

National Pro Bono Week (October 23rd – 29th) is a time to celebrate and recognize the dedicated work of pro bono volunteers, as well as to educate the community about the many legal and other issues faced by our clients. PLS is happy to announce that this year we will again be celebrating National Pro Bono Week with an event highlighting our commitment to serving the incarcerated community.


This will be our 11th year celebrating pro bono work and to start off this second decade, we will also be compiling a book of poetry written exclusively by incarcerated individuals.

Inspired by Brian Stevenson’s quote “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done,” we are seeking poetry submissions from incarcerated people that focuses on who you are apart from your conviction and incarceration. We want to help you tell people on the outside who you really are.


  • What do you believe in?
  • What are your ambitions, hopes, and dreams?
  • What do your children, parents, family, and friends mean to you?
  • How have your past experiences shaped you as a person?
  • What do you want others to know about you, beyond your conviction?


Unlike past years where our Pro Bono Event has focused on specific topics such as solitary confinement, immigration, medical care and education, this year’s theme, Convictions Beyond a Conviction, is purposely broad. Our goal is to give every incarcerated New Yorker a chance to contribute, express themselves, and have their voices heard. If you speak/write in a language other than English, please feel free to send us a submission in your primary language, that is, the language in which you are most comfortable expressing yourself. We will compile selected submissions into a book of poetry, and some of those poems will be presented by professional actors during a live performance at our National Pro Bono Week celebration.


Poems should be no more than one (1) page in length and mailed to: Pro Bono Director, Prisoners’ Legal Services of NY, 41 State Street, Suite M112, Albany, New York 12207, no later than June 30, 2022.

 

By sharing the poems of incarcerated people, we hope to educate the public, and recruit attorneys to take cases pro bono, thus increasing access to justice for indigent incarcerated persons across the State. While we cannot guarantee that each piece will be read or included in our publication, we encourage all submissions and will do our best to integrate as many as possible in the book and our event. The book will not be sold for profit and PLS reserves the right to make editorial changes to submissions.


Please note that contributing your story for the Pro Bono Event described above is not the same as seeking legal assistance/representation from PLS. If you are seeking legal assistance, you must write separately to the appropriate PLS office.


PLEASE INITIAL ON THE APPROPRIATE LINE(S) AND SIGN BELOW, AND ENCLOSE WITH YOUR SUBMISSION:   PLS Poetry Submission Form for National Pro Bono Week 2022

Marc Bachman

Marc Bachman

Immigration Staff Attorney

41 State Street, Suite M112

Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-445-6050 

mbachman@plsny.org

Marc earned his Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, at Tulane University and his Juris Doctor at  Syracuse University College of Law, where he was an active member of the Moot Court Board and a recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence in Trial Practice. For more than 15 years, Marc practiced in the areas of commercial litigation and commercial real estate at large New York City law firms. He is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey and is fluent in Spanish. In 2019, Marc volunteered in Tijuana, Mexico, with the Al Otro Lado Border Rights Project, counseling refugees stranded at the US-Mexico border in their asylum claims. Marc’s experience in Tijuana and his desire to help those less fortunate led him to the practice of immigration law in 2018, as a volunteer immigration attorney with the Northeast Justice Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts and The Legal Project in Albany, New York. Marc joined PLS in November of 2020. In his spare time, he enjoys alpine skiing, running, cycling, international travel, meditation and reading Spanish novels