Employment Opportunity

IRAP is currently accepting applications for our Legal Services Director position on a rolling basis.

Legal Services Director

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) works through a robust network of staff, pro bono attorneys and law students to fill a major gap in access to legal aid for refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced people. IRAP has become the first advocacy organization to provide comprehensive legal representation to refugees throughout the registration, protection and resettlement processes. As fear, division, hatred, and economic uncertainty persist in the global consciousness and manifest in discriminatory policies, speech, and actions, individuals across the world must respond by demanding and upholding commitments to justice. IRAP is leveraging its volunteers and resources to fight back and ensure that we continue to uphold the humanitarian tradition of welcoming those who are in need of refuge.

IRAP’s Legal Services Department is growing in response to the increased demand to protect those whose rights are being threatened and is now seeking nominations and applications for the position of Legal Services Director.

Since its founding in 2008, IRAP has used legal aid, litigation and advocacy to protect and advance the rights of refugees, both domestically and internationally; the organization has also remained committed to developing the next generation of human rights attorneys through its work with law students. The global turn against refugee resettlement coupled with IRAP’s highly effective model has led to a period of rapid expansion to meet new levels of demand. In the past two years, IRAP’s annual budget has increased from $2 million to $9 million, and over the past six years, its staff has grown from ten to seventy.

Reporting to IRAP’s Executive Director, Becca Heller, the Legal Services Director will lead a team of five talented program directors who oversee the work of over 40 staff. The Legal Services Department focuses on protecting the rights of refugees, and the Director will provide critical strategic partnership to the Executive Director as IRAP navigates this new phase of growth. The Legal Services Director will provide direct supervision to the U.S. Legal Services Director, Middle East Director, Director of Pro Bono, the Director of Complementary Pathways and the Intake and Legal Information Director. S/he/they will oversee staff based in New York City, Jordan, Lebanon, and remotely around the world.

The ideal candidate will be an inclusive, passionate leader deeply committed to IRAP’s mission and clients. S/he/they will be an experienced manager with the proven ability to develop and lead successful teams in delivering the highest quality legal and advocacy services. The Director will be a decisive, keenly analytical leader and thinker who will build and support healthy culture around prioritization, team communication and decision making. S/he/they will be able to lead from an anti-oppression lens and understand how to support clients and staff impacted by trauma directly and vicariously. The Director must have a law degree, and admission to practice law in the United States is a plus.

This search is being conducted by Meredith Horton, Allison Kupfer Poteet, Hallie Dietsch, and Javier Garcia of NPAG. Application instructions can be found at the end of this document.

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is a dynamic and growing legal, policy, and advocacy organization that works to develop and enforce a system of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced people around the world. We are the first organization to provide free and comprehensive legal representation to refugees throughout registration, protection, and resettlement processes. Since IRAP’s establishment, we have helped to resettle more than 3,800 individuals to 18 countries.

IRAP operates offices in the U.S. (New York), Jordan (Amman), and Lebanon (Beirut). Our legal services are supplemented by a corps of pro bono lawyers from leading U.S. and international law firms and multi-national corporations, and by law students who have created IRAP chapters across the United States and Canada. Through this work, we aim to assist refugees and other displaced people to find safe passage and to transform the landscape of refugee rights in the U.S. and internationally. We are a growing, nimble organization staffed by an innovative and collaborative team that is committed to high standards of quality and close partnerships with our clients, peers, and colleagues.

IRAP has developed an innovative legal aid and advocacy model that defends the rights of refugees and assures their passage to safe destination countries. IRAP’s approach is grounded in three distinct but interrelated strategies:

  • IRAP has created a “virtual public interest law firm” that defies geographical boundaries and provides high quality representation to refugees by a cadre of 1,200 law students and over 800 pro bono attorneys. This model is scalable and allows IRAP to take on an increasing number of urgent refugee cases, as well as respond to immediate crises.
  • Through extensive litigation and systemic advocacy, IRAP brings legal challenges to refugee rights violations in the courts, creating solutions to overcoming the legal and bureaucratic impediments in the resettlement process, and developing an enforceable system of legal and procedural rights for refugees and displaced persons worldwide. As the only organization that guide refugees through every step of the resettlement process, IRAP is often able to identify obstacles of which other institutional players are unaware. This unique model utilizes lessons learned in individual casework to advocate for systemic changes that benefit broader refugee populations.
  • IRAP trains the next generation of international human rights advocates through its law school chapters. These advocates are essential to assuring fairness, decency, and adherence to the rule of law throughout the refugee resettlement process and promoting pro-refugee policies through the country.

This comprehensive advocacy network was successfully activated on January 27, 2017, when President Trump signed an Executive Order implementing the first travel ban. IRAP immediately mobilized lawyers across the country to travel to airports and other ports of entry to prevent them from being turned into prisons or black sites. IRAP filed suit demanding freedom for more than 2,000 travelers imprisoned at airports around the country simply because they were traveling from Muslim-majority countries. In total, it took only 27 hours from the signing of the Executive Order to the emergency court decision demanding that these thousands of people not be deported. IRAP’s ability to rapidly mobilize a nationwide network of attorneys and advocates and secure an important legal victory was pivotal – the organization’s actions created a movement and ensured that the public was made aware of the chaos and injustice taking place behind closed doors.

IRAP’s Legal Services, Litigation, and Policy Departments work together to deliver direct services to refugees and other displaced people, litigate to change the systems and structures that create obstacles to refugee resettlement and the securing of safe passage for those in need, and advocate for U.S. policies that help create and expand pathways to safety for refugees and displaced people.

Opportunities and Challenges Facing the New Legal Services Director
IRAP’s Legal Services Department includes over 40 staff who provide individual legal assistance to refugees and other displaced people around the world. The new Legal Services Director will:

  • Manage a talented team of attorneys and professional staff. The new Director will lead the programmatic work of IRAP’s Legal Services Department across its New York, Beirut, and Amman offices. This includes in-house and pro bono casework on diverse case types, intakes and screenings of potential clients, development of new partnerships and initiatives that expand IRAP’s work, development and diffusion of pro se information, and management of IRAP’s pro bono network. The new Director will supervise a team of five program directors, providing responsive management and ongoing support and ensuring that the Legal Services Department’s international offices are fully integrated into the work and mission of IRAP. Direct reports include the U.S. Legal Services Director; Middle East Director, who leads the Jordan and Lebanon offices; Director of Pro Bono; Director of Complementary Pathways, who also leads IRAP’s strategic partnerships and expansion initiatives; and and the Intake and Legal Information Director, who leads the team responsible for client screening.
  • Create an infrastructure that supports the Legal Services Department’s recent and continued growth and impact. The new Director will bring strong project management skills and process orientation to the work, making sure that appropriate policies and protocols are in place to support case management, intake and screening, pro bono partner management, and other key functions of the Legal Services Department’s work. The Director will be a systems-thinker with the ability to listen, motivate, and execute to make the Department’s work as efficient and effective as possible. S/he/they will be able to identify new opportunities and successfully integrate new initiatives and partnerships into the Department’s existing work.
  • Collaborate with IRAP’s leadership team and staff to set a bold vision and set of priorities for the Legal Services Department and the organization. IRAP’s success relies on deeply collaborative and respectful relationships among directors and staff. The new Director will explore opportunities to build creative, strategic cases and campaigns within the Legal Services Department and to collaborate with directors and staff from the Litigation, Policy, Strategy, and Development teams to develop new areas of work and expertise and ensure that staff training and learning opportunities are aligned with current and emerging programmatic needs.
  • Ensure that the Legal Services Department offers a supportive, equitable, and inclusive work environment and upholds principles of anti-oppression in hiring, staff support, client relationships, outreach, and coalition building. Grounded in IRAP’s commitment to justice and equality and its organizational values, the new Director will bring an anti-oppression lens to all aspects of strategy, priority setting, team development, and community engagement. The new Director will support IRAP’s work to reflect the communities it serves and build a culture of ​ inclusion, ​continuous growth​, and openness. S/he/they will help create a respectful and equitable work environment for staff at all levels of the organization and will ensure the same experience for clients, partners, and stakeholders. In particular, the Director will connect team members with resources and support to navigate the trauma that clients have experienced and their own experiences with vicarious trauma.

The ideal candidate will be deeply committed to IRAP’s mission and understand the critical role that legal aid, litigation and advocacy plays in advancing the rights of refugees worldwide. S/he/they will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes and experiences:

  • Sophisticated leadership skills and presence developed through a minimum of eight years of management and leadership experience in a legal setting, with a demonstrable record of success in program management and direct supervision of staff. Experience supervising staff working remotely is a plus;
  • Relevant legal experience working with refugees and displaced people, immigrants, or other vulnerable populations;
  • Commitment to and experience in successfully employing an anti-racist/anti-oppression lens to foster a diverse, equitable working environment and creating diverse teams that reflect communities served;
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with a leadership team to set organizational and departmental priorities and pursue opportunities that further impact across departments;
  • The ability to convey and implement a clear vision that is embodied in all levels of the Department;
  • A record of success in managing, training, developing, and supervising legal staff;
  • Experience developing or improving organizational capacity, with an eye toward opportunities for process improvement;
  • Excellent writing, analytical, and oral communication skills;
  • An optimistic outlook and the humor, integrity, patience, and perseverance necessary to advance efforts to ensure displaced persons have greater access to services;
  • A law degree is required; admission to practice law in the United States is a plus;
  • Additional languages are a plus; and
  • Must be based in New York City (or willing to relocate) and amenable to frequent travel to other sites where IRAP is working or building partnerships.

The midpoint of the salary range is $150,000, with actual salary commensurate with experience. IRAP offers an excellent benefits package, including healthcare and retirement plans, a flexible work schedule, and vacation and sick leave.

More information about IRAP may be found at: https://refugeerights.org/.

This search is being conducted with assistance from Meredith Horton, Allison Kupfer Poteet, Hallie Dietsch and Javier Garcia of NPAG. Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume (in Word format), and where you learned of the position should be sent to IRAP-LD@nonprofitprofessionals.com. In order to expedite the internal sorting and reviewing process, please type your name (Last, First) as the only contents in the subject line of your e-mail.

IRAP believes that diversity is critical to fostering a strong workplace and serving our clients well. We strongly encourage applications from people with lived experiences in the communities that we serve, members of other marginalized communities, and individuals whose identities are underrepresented in the legal profession.