Staff Attorney – Incarcerated Survivors and Family Defense

Website Ascend Justice

ASCEND JUSTICE is seeking a full-time staff attorney in the Extended Services Division.  This new role involves providing a range of direct representation and other legal services to survivors of gender-based violence who are either incarcerated or impacted by the child welfare system.  Our family defense team assists parents, caregivers, and professionals who work with children with legal services and advocacy related to: ongoing Illinois Department of Children & Family Services investigations for child abuse and neglect, including safety plans and intact services issues; administrative expungement appeals of DCFS indicated findings; and impact litigation including civil rights cases and class actions.  Our new Incarcerated Survivors team will assist people inside of women’s prisons and other forms of correctional control, as well as limited related services for their family members. The Incarcerated Survivors team provides advocacy and legal services related to parental defense, family law, child placement issues, and barriers to release from incarceration or program placements.

Due to COVID-19, most agency staff are temporarily working remotely. When circumstances change, this will primarily be an on-site position at 17 N. State St. in Chicago, and will also include some travel throughout the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois.  An ideal candidate will have prior legal experience working with survivors impacted by gender-based violence and/or incarceration.

Essential Responsibilities:

  • Provide high quality representation for incarcerated survivors of domestic violence seeking remedies in civil court for family law, orders of protection or other civil related matters.
  • Provide high quality representation for survivors of domestic violence involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
  • Manage a caseload of ongoing cases, including effective representation of clients in contested hearings.
  • Deliver services according to principles of trauma-informed care.
  • Perform intake functions, interviewing potential clients to evaluate cases for representation.
  • Maintain client files, noting all deadlines, communications and other relevant information.
  • Coordinate with agency’s Client Support Coordinator and other colleagues to ensure that client receives seamless, holistic services.
  • Supervise volunteers including attorneys, students and interns.

Other Responsibilities:

  • Actively participate in required staff meetings, trainings.
  • Keep abreast of the field by maintaining networks, participating in professional organizations.
  • Protect the organization by keeping information confidential.
  • Perform other duties as assigned by supervisor.

Work Environment:

  • Courthouse and offices are fully accessible. Some work at off-site locations may be required and those may not necessarily be fully accessible.
  • The employee must be willing and able to travel throughout the state of Illinois, including to prisons and other carceral settings.
  • Driver’s License strongly preferred.
  • Evening, weekend, and overnight work/travel may occasionally be required.
  • This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, and scanners. Employee is regularly required to talk, hear, see, and communicate effectively via computer.
  • The employee must frequently lift and/or move objects up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move objects up to 40 pounds.
  • Smoke- and drug-free environment.
  • Ascend Justice is an equal opportunity employer and seeks to employ qualified individuals based on individual merit. Ascend Justice does not discriminate against any individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment based on that individual’s race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, genetic information, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, housing status, or any other non-merit factor protected under state, local or federal laws. Equal Employment Opportunity applies to all personnel actions such as recruiting, hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, training, transfer, termination, and opportunities for training. Ascend Justice is committed to a fair and equitable workplace where everyone is a respected and valued member of the team.


  • Licensed to practice law in Illinois
  • Must have completed or be willing to complete 40 hour Domestic Violence training
  • At least two years of legal experience is preferred, working in domestic relations, child welfare or a related field, or working with incarcerated clients
  • Experience working with incarcerated populations preferred
  • Highly proficient in Spanish, including ability to interview and represent clients with limited or no-English speaking abilities, preferred
  • Ability to develop and implement short and long-term litigation strategies
  • Familiarity with principles of trauma-informed care and willingness to complete additional training
  • Strong self-motivation and ability to manage multiple tasks and deadlines
  • Demonstrated ability to work with diverse populations
  • Knowledge of or experience with working with survivors of gender-based or intimate partner violence
  • Ability to work in fast-paced legal environment
  • Ability to communicate effectively with people in crisis
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Flexible, self-motivated
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Excellent communication and time management skills
  • Sense of humor

To apply for this job email your details to