Job Opportunity: WDA...

Job Opportunity: WDA Resource Attorney – Immigration Team

Posted: September 28, 2020

Application Closing Date: Open Until Filled

POSITION: Resource Attorney – WDA Immigration Project

WDA’s Immigration Project seeks a full-time resource attorney with immigration or criminal defense experience to provide case assistance and training for public defenders representing non-citizen clients in Washington State. The resource attorney also will create criminal-immigration tools and resources to assist defenders in their cases as well as engage with public defender offices across the state to support and empower effective assistance of their clients. The position is based in WDA’s Seattle office and requires some travel, primarily throughout Washington. NOTE: WDA staff are working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and no in-person training or travel will be required until COVID restrictions are lifted.  Post-COVID residency in Washington State will be required; relocation to Seattle (where WDA’s office is located) is negotiable.

Job Responsibilities include:

  • Defender Engagement: Cultivate, maintain and evolve relationships with public defenders and defender offices throughout Washington that:
    • Ensure and enhance defender practices to provide effective assistance to achieve better outcomes for noncitizen clients;
    • Identify emergent issues and collaborative response strategies; and
    • Build capacity to leverage defender engagement toward local, state (and national) systemic changes in the criminal and immigration laws and legal systems.
  • Immigration Case Consultations: Deliver high quality, timely case-specific support to high volume of assistance requests from defenders representing noncitizen clients;
  • Training: Provide webinar and in-person training to defenders and community partners and other justice system stakeholders;
  • Resources: Develop practice advisories and other tools regarding immigration consequences of criminal convictions and criminal legal system involvement;
  • Systems Advocacy: Support defender engagement with community partners and stakeholders to advance systems change advocacy on state and local issues regarding noncitizens who become involved in criminal legal systems; identify opportunities to integrate community partners into WDA advocacy efforts.
  • Race Equity Work: Participate in WDA’s internal and external work to enact Just Lead Washington’s Race Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) commitments.


  • 4 – 7 years’ criminal defense or removal defense experience. For candidates with public defense experience we expect a clear commitment to develop expertise in the immigration consequences of crimes. For those with experience in immigration removal defense we expect a clear commitment to develop criminal legal and public defense expertise.
  • Experience working with indigent clients and/or as a public defender is preferred; post-conviction experience is desirable; commitment to social justice, race equity and community engagement is essential.
  • Capacity to be self-directed, highly organized and work in a collaborative, energetic work environment; take leadership on priority issues; engage in strategic thinking and collaborative partnership development to further WDA and Immigration Project goals.
  • Excellent analytical, writing and communication abilities.
  • Member in good standing of the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) or another a state bar association. If present membership is out of state, membership in the WSBA is required within one year.


SALARY RANGE: $66,000 – $80,000

BENEFITS: Health insurance coverage, FSA program for medical, child care and transportation, SIMPLE IRA plan, and generous vacation policy.


Established in 1983, the Washington Defender Association (WDA) is a paramount voice for public defense in Washington State. WDA provides support to public defenders, investigators and support staff that enhances capacity to provide high quality legal representation and to work in partnership with communities to achieve just results for people accused of crimes. We collaborate with stakeholders across the criminal legal system and in our communities to transform what justice looks like. These collaborations include efforts to stop criminalization of race, poverty, behavioral health issues, immigration status and other target identities that result in disproportionate consequences. They also include efforts to manifest alternatives that reduce harm and build systems that support historically marginalized communities to thrive.

With a staff of 11 and a membership of 1400+, we support public defenders through individual case assistance, training and education resources, amicus curiae representation and policy advocacy. Current work includes training and resource assistance for: misdemeanor and felony defenders; offering immigration legal expertise to defenders representing noncitizens clients through our Immigration Project, and to those representing Incarcerated parents through our Incarcerated Parents Project. WDA’s policy advocacy efforts prioritize systemic change locally and statewide. Our work centers protection of the constitutional rights of people accused of crimes and advocating for equity throughout the criminal legal system, including combatting disproportionate racial impacts and other practices adversely affecting low income defendants and their families and communities.

WDA is committed to creating a diverse, inclusive environment. We are signatories to Just Lead Washington’s Race Equity & Justice Initiative and engaged in efforts to actualize REJI acknowledgements and commitments. We are an equal opportunity employer and encourage those of diverse backgrounds and marginalized communities to apply. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or other applicable characteristics. 


Established in 1999, WDA’s Immigration Project (WDAIP) defends and advances the rights of noncitizens involved in the criminal legal system. Specifically, through individual case assistance and training we assist defenders to avoid or mitigate the disproportionate immigration consequences that can result from criminal convictions and comply with their constitutional duties recognized by the US Supreme Court in Padilla v. Kentucky. WDAIP is a local, state and national leader in this work. We also work in collaboration with community partners to change laws, policies and practices and to uphold and expand noncitizen rights in the criminal legal and immigration systems.  In addition to this position, WDAIP is staffed by Senior Directing Attorney, Annie Benson, and Immigration Specialist, Jonathan Moore.

TO BE CONSIDERED, PLEASE SEND RESUME, COVER LETTER, AND SHORT WRITING SAMPLE TO: Scott Shoemaker at (preferred), or mail to Washington Defender Association, 300 Lenora St., POB 250, Seattle, WA  98121.