A career at LSGMI is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and can offer you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. If you would like the opportunity to be a part of a first-rate organization that has a significant impact on the low income community of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, please consider joining our team.
“Imagine working at a job where your colleagues are driven by compassion rather than personal gain, a job where your advocacy will end hunger, homelessness, and lack of access to medical services. Imagine pulling a client from the edge of the precipice – that is what it’s like to work at Legal Services.” – Lissie Salazar
High quality representation is our goal. When hiring attorneys, LSGMI seeks highly motivated and aggressive advocates with a demonstrated commitment to working with low-income people and community groups. Candidates with prior public interest experience are highly preferred. With over 500,000 Miami-Dade and Monroe County residents living below the poverty line, LSGMI is never at a loss for clients, most of whom are struggling to avoid homelessness or losing important government benefits. Because of the number of clients seeking our services and the impact of these problems on our clients’ lives, the work is frequently stressful, but always rewarding.
LSGMI provides the full range of legal representation, representing clients in state, federal, bankruptcy and tax courts; in administrative hearings with local housing authorities, the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings, and the Social Security Administration; and in appeals to the Circuit Court Appellate Division, District Courts of Appeal, and Eleventh Circuit Appellate Court. Attorneys are assigned to one of three substantive law specialty units: Housing, Employment and Economic Security, and Community Economic Development. Supervision in each unit is provided by Senior Attorneys who coordinate all program work in the unit pursuant to an annual work plan. Each attorney also has a direct supervisor who provides daily supervision.
Attorneys are expected to balance individual service cases, impact work, and community legal education/pro se clinics. All attorneys conduct client intake and meet weekly for “case review” to determine which cases will be accepted for representation. New attorneys can expect to find themselves regularly representing clients in court or administrative hearings in cases ranging from routine matters to complex litigation. Attorneys also have the opportunity to handle any appeal that arises from a case. Because LSGMI receives nearly half of its funding from the Legal Services Corporation, we must comply with federal regulations and restrictions attached by Congress. LSGMI attorneys are able to accomplish significant impact litigation within the bounds of the restrictions. As with any organization funded by grants and government money, there is some “red tape” associated with our work, including ensuring that certain information is collected from clients and keeping detailed time records. LSGMI is an equal opportunity employer dedicated to the recruitment and retention of outstanding and committed advocates and staff who reflect the diversity of our client community and who are involved with and informed about our client community.
LSGMI requires a two year commitment. Unadmitted attorneys must take the next available Florida Bar examination. A special practice rule allows attorneys with three years of experience in another jurisdiction to practice pending Florida Bar results. With full-time translators on staff, language proficiency in Spanish or Creole is highly desirable, but not required. Along with paralegals and support staff, LSGMI attorneys are part of a union bargaining unit which is part of the National Organization of Legal Services Workers (NOLSW).
“My work experience at Legal Services is great because you get to work with bright committed attorneys who are able to choose their cases not based on who can pay you the most, but who needs you the most.” – Sean Rowley
Although salaries may not be competitive with private law firms, LSGMI’s starting salary is higher than most other legal services and public interest programs. LSGMI also offers generous non-salary benefits. A Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) providing up to $7,500 annual assistance is available through the Florida Bar Foundation. The LRAP helps make working at LSGMI more viable for those with high student loan debt. For full-time employees working at least 30 hours per week, LSGMI pays the full premium for: Medical Insurance for the employee and their spouse, same-sex domestic partner, and dependents. Dental Insurance for the employee.
Employees may purchase dental insurance for their spouse, same-sex domestic partner and dependents. Life Insurance for the employee which pays the beneficiary one and a half times the employee’s salary, up to a maximum of $50,000. Disability Insurance for the employee which pays 60% of the employee’s salary up to a maximum of $5,000 per month if the employee is disabled for a full 60 days. Vision Insurance is offered to employees at a very affordable rate. The employee may also purchase insurance for their spouse, same-sex domestic partner and dependents. Workers’ Compensation Insurance covers injuries arising out of and in the course of employment.
LSGMI matches employee elective contributions to a 401(k) Pension Plan up to a certain percentage and makes non-elective contributions at year end. LSGMI offers a Cafeteria plan and supplemental insurance through AFLAC. LSGMI pays Florida Bar dues, as well as dues for one local bar association and attendance at bar functions. LSGMI maintains Professional Liability Insurance for all attorneys, paralegals, and law clerks for legal services performed on behalf of LSGMI’s clients.
Paid leave includes: 15 days of vacation per year for the first two years of employment, and 20 days per year thereafter. Vacation time may be used after six months of employment. 12 paid holidays and two floating holidays. Three personal days per year to attend to compelling personal business or family matters. One day of sick leave per month.
“As my first legal job following law school, I could not have asked for a better place to work and grow as a new attorney. I am proud of the work I did during this year and am grateful to have worked with LSGMI staff who are passionate in combating poverty in Miami.” – Vivianette Velazquez, Alumna
Each year, LSGMI conducts an extensive orientation and training program for new attorneys. The training focuses on all substantive areas of our practice, as well as LSGMI policies and procedures. Because we recognize that attorneys require continual training to remain on the cutting edge of legal practice, LSGMI attorneys have the opportunity to attend in-house, state-wide and national trainings on substantive legal issues. In addition, the Florida Bar Foundation and the Center for Legal Aid Education (CLAE) have partnered to provide substantive and skills based trainings for our attorneys. Click here to learn more. Examples of recent and upcoming trainings are listed below: Administrative Hearing Skills, designed as an entry-level training experience for newer attorneys and paralegals, introduces participants to the full panoply of skills needed to prepare for and conduct an administrative hearing – from the initial client interview to case planning, witness preparation, proof of facts, direct and cross examination, and more. Affirmative Litigation, offered through a combination of web-based and in-person learning activities, provides a comprehensive introduction to the process of prosecuting a complex affirmative case in federal or state court. Case Planning and Discovery introduces newer attorneys and paralegals to the basics of legal analysis, discovery planning and fact development. Basic Lawyering Skills teaches the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a lawyer’s trade – from client communication to case analysis, motion practice to counseling – and gives new advocates the tools they need to develop realistic professional development goals. Promoting an expansive view of a legal aid lawyer’s role, Community Lawyering stresses the importance of thinking beyond litigation (while retaining litigation as a vital tool) in addressing the kinds of structural problems low-income communities face.
“Every day I come to work I know I am making positive, life altering changes in the lives of economically disadvantaged individuals and families through zealous legal advocacy.” -Lissette Labrousse
- General Responsibilities: Under the supervision of the Employer, the attorney renders civil legal services to eligible individuals and groups according to their needs and consistent with Legal Services Corporation and other regulations when they apply. Law school graduates who are not a member of any bar, or who are a member of a bar in another state but not in Florida, shall perform such duties of an attorney as they are able to ethically until they become a member of the Florida Bar.
- Specific Duties: The specific duties of an attorney shall include the following:
- Maintain a reasonable caseload according to the highest professional and ethical legal standards
- Advise groups, utilizing legal knowledge and expertise as well as assistance of other staff, to aid community organizations in planning goals, tactics, and strategies for self-advocacy
- Develop an education program directed to the client community regarding rights and responsibilities in his/her special area of expertise
- Establish contacts and relationships with courts, bar associations, other legal services programs, legislative bodies, governmental agencies, community organizations, and low income groups;
- Participate with other staff in conducting complex litigation and appeals
- Identify laws, policies, and practices which adversely affect and diminish the rights and benefits of poor people, and work with others to devise creative strategies for addressing these problems
- Perform other job related duties as assigned. 3. Increasing Responsibilities: It is expected that as an attorney gains in skill s/he will assume more responsibility.
After two years an attorney will:
- Maintain a caseload and work with less supervision.
- Supervise less experienced attorneys and paralegals.
- Develop knowledge in a specialized field of poverty law, and consult with other staff in such specialized field. After five years an attorney will be expected to become a member of the Federal Trial Bar.
(a) Member of the Florida Bar or admission within the time specified in this Agreement.
(b) Ready access to an automobile or other adequate means of transportation.
For more information, contact Vivian Chavez, Director of Operations, at VChavez@legalservicesmiami.org.