Staff Attorney - Discharges
The Veteran Advocacy Project (VAP) at the Urban Justice Center seeks an attorney to represent veterans in discharge upgrade applications to the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
VAP provides free civil legal services to low-income veterans, with a focus on those living with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and substance use issues. We are partnered with VA hospitals, health clinics, and local veterans’ groups to reach servicemembers where they are. While our attorneys tackle the legal challenges, our advocates ensure that our clients are connected to appropriate social services. With a dedicated team, the project allows veterans to achieve the stability needed to regain their health and rebuild their lives.
The attorney will work with our team to address the legal needs of low-income veterans in a holistic manner. The position will focus on applications to the DoD/DHS Boards of Correction for Military/Naval Records (BCMRs/BCNR). The attorney will conduct outreach, engage in extensive investigation, research and write applications and briefs, collaborate with providers to obtain forensic psychiatric/psychological evaluations, and appear before administrative boards. The attorney may also represent veterans in appeals in federal court and may work with pro bono attorneys on a small number of cases.
Military experience or prior work with veterans is a plus.
• Current member in good standing of a state bar;
• Knowledge of the discharge upgrade or record correction process, including experience drafting applications to the BCM/NRs and/or Discharge Review Boards;
• Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills;
• Excellent organizational and time-management skills;
• Excellent communication skills, including the ability to work well with people living with mental illness, substance use disorders, and traumatic brain injury;
• Ability to work independently with strong motivation, to meet deadlines, and to be flexible;
• Demonstrated commitment to social justice and veterans’ issues.
• Experience working with veterans with less-than-fully-honorable discharges;
• Experience working with individuals living with mental illness, traumatic brain injury, or substance use disorders;
• Knowledge of the military discharge process, to include administrative and punitive discharges
• Experience working on discharge upgrade applications;
• Experience working with expert witnesses, specifically forensic mental health professionals;
• Experience investigating cases, including locating witnesses and drafting affidavits;
• Experience using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Salary is commensurate with experience. Extremely generous benefits package. This is a bargaining unit position represented for collective bargaining purposes by the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW, Local 2230.
• Represent clients before the DoD/DHS BCM/NRs and potentially federal court;
• Write discharge upgrade applications and briefs;
• Screen veterans for relief, including exhaustive investigation of military history, post-service conduct, and medical records;
• Collaborate with expert witnesses, including forensic mental health professionals;
• Conduct intake at partner organizations’ sites;
• Research legal issues, with a focus on military discharges;
• Provide telephone and/or written advice to clients;
• Provide thorough referrals to connect clients with other services; work with other staff on case strategies and integration of services to meet clients’ needs;
• Track client information in our database, prepare reports required by funders, attend meetings, perform
The Urban Justice Center serves New York City's most vulnerable residents through a combination of direct legal service, systemic advocacy, community education and political organizing. Our 11 Projects assist clients on numerous levels, from one-on-one legal advice in soup kitchens, to filing class action lawsuits to bring about systemic change, to pushing social justice legislation forward.