Executive Director of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) is one of the nation’s largest and most effective providers of legal services to low-income communities. After enjoying stable leadership for more than forty years, TRLA now seeks a new Executive Director.

TRLA provides free, comprehensive civil legal services to the low-income residents of 68 counties in Southwest Texas, from Austin to the Rio Grande River, and to migrant and seasonal farm workers throughout Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. In addition, TRLA is the provider of civil legal assistance to survivors of sexual assault and harassment in 114 counties in Northwest Texas. TRLA also operates a regional public defender program in several rural counties in South Texas, providing representation, including appeals, to persons accused of felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile cases. TRLA represents 20,000 clients annually, including individuals, families, and organizations.

TRLA is the second largest grantee of the Legal Services Corporation, fielding 170 lawyers and a similar number of support staff in 18 offices from El Paso, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. It provides direct legal representation in courts and administrative agencies, both state and federal, and engages in legal clinics, community legal education, and outreach. TRLA’s focus has always been litigation. TRLA has earned an excellent national reputation for the scope and impact of its efforts, particularly for its representation of migrant and seasonal farm workers.

Because TRLA serves the entire Texas-Mexico border region, 80% of the clients served are Hispanic, and 32% prefer to communicate in the Spanish language. So TRLA emphasizes hiring bilingual staff to engage clients without language barriers. TRLA also operates in a world where poverty is extreme. Four of the poorest metropolitan areas in the United States are in TRLA’s service area: Brownsville-Harlingen (#1), McAllen-Edinburg (#2), El Paso (#6), and Corpus Christi (#9). Opportunities for creative delivery of legal services are abundant along the Texas-Mexico border, as are challenges.

The Executive Director will lead the organization in its provision of both civil and public defender legal services, reporting directly to TRLA’s Board of Directors. The Executive Director will manage an annual budget of roughly $35 million and ensure compliance with grant conditions. The Executive Director will be responsible for collaborative efforts with grantors, the legal services community, and the private bar. The Executive Director will be responsible for all recruiting, hiring, training, and staff leadership. And the Executive Director will perform this work in a politically challenging environment, always seeking to maximize the impact that can be obtained using limited resources that are available to TRLA.

To qualify, applicants must: (a) be admitted or meet all requirements to be admitted to the Texas Bar; (b) have substantial experience in poverty law, with strong emphasis on serving as lead counsel in relevant litigation; (c) have demonstrated capacity to lead and inspire staff who believe in the mission of justice for the poor. In sum, the Executive Director must represent TRLA publicly, maintaining TRLA’s stature in both the legal and client communities as a diligent defender of the rights of the poor as they seek equal access to justice.

To Apply: Send a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications together with your résumé and two references to employment@trla.org. The search is being led by a committee of TRLA’s Board of Directors. TRLA is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Ability to speak Spanish is preferred.

Submission Deadline: October 15, 2017

Attorney-Staff Public Defender–BEEVILLE

TRLA seeks an experienced, felony-qualified attorney for its Regional Public Defender office in Beeville. The Bee Regional Public Defender Program, from its office in Beeville, serves Bee, Live Oak, and McMullen Counties, and will soon serve Refugio County as well. With caseload controls, staff investigators and a solid litigation budget, the program emphasizes zealous advocacy in a rural environment. The program costs are split equally between the state and the participating counties.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, with 175 attorneys, is the largest civil legal services program in the nation, covering a 68-county service area in Southwest Texas. Indigent defense services through the TRLA non-profit corporation began approximately ten years ago, and have now been extended to 8 counties. The non-profit arrangement establishes a strong measure of independence for defender staff, backed by a firm with a strong national reputation for zealous advocacy. TRLA provides its defender clients the full range of representation, both civil and criminal, including advice on the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. A mental health component is being added to the program in the fall.

The primary responsibilities are:

• Serve as lead counsel of record in up to 50 felony cases, 100 misdemeanor cases, and 10 juvenile cases per year;
• Mentor less experienced attorneys in the program; and
• Try cases to a verdict.

Qualifications:

• Licensed to practice law in Texas or willing to take the next available Texas bar exam;
• One year of criminal litigation experience or comparable academic or clinical experience in criminal law;
• Have served as lead counsel in at least 5 felony trials before a jury;
• Preference for an attorney who is professionally functional in the Spanish language;
• Proficiency in the Windows operating system, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and legal research software; and
• Completion of six hours of continuing legal education in criminal law within the twelve months preceding service as a Public Defender staff attorney.

Temporary Outreach Worker

BASTA (Building and Strengthening Tenant Action)
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Austin

In furthering the cause of tenant empowerment in the Austin area, TRLA seeks an outreach worker to join the Building and Strengthening Tenant Action (BASTA) team to assist in outreach to tenants. The BASTA team supports low-income Austin residents’ ability to access safe, decent, and affordable housing through a variety of modes of advocacy, including education, litigation and empowerment strategies.

TRLA is the third largest legal services provider in the country and enjoys an exceptional litigation record. The organization is nationally recognized for its zealous representation of America’s most impoverished and oppressed populations, and its attorneys and support staff have achieved an enviable record of success in federal and state courts throughout Texas. TRLA recruits throughout the country and attracts many candidates who would be welcome in the most prestigious non-profit organizations in the country.

The outreach worker is part of the Building and Strengthening Tenant Action (“BASTA”) project team to support low-income Austin residents’ ability to access safe, decent, and affordable housing through a variety of modes of advocacy, including education, litigation and empowerment strategies.

The duties and activities of the outreach worker include the following:

• Support full-time outreach workers, as needed, in visiting substandard properties and educating residents on their legal right to live in healthy housing, the steps they can take to get the property owners to make repairs, and the effects slum housing has on their health. Transport materials from office to meeting locations.
• Help residents document substandard conditions and needed repairs.
• Assist residents in requesting repairs, meeting with property managers, and reporting substandard conditions, as needed, to code enforcement. Monitor responsiveness and follow up as needed.
• Document outreach activities and compile data to track outcomes and efficacy of the project.
• All other duties assigned

QUALIFICATIONS:

Required

• Bilingual in English and Spanish.
• Dedication to economic, social and racial justice.
• Ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of people, including residents and property owners.
• Strong organizational skills.
• Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
• Ability to work evenings and weekends.
• Vehicle and driver’s license.

Preferred:

• Knowledge of housing issues and/or landlord-tenant law.
• Personal experience with low-income housing.
• Computer proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and willingness to develop additional skills.

Temporary Paralegal-Austin

BASTA (Building and Strengthening Tenant Action)
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Austin

In furthering the cause of tenant empowerment in the Austin area, TRLA seeks a paralegal to join the Building and Strengthening Tenant Action (BASTA) team to assist in litigation on behalf of tenants. The BASTA team supports low-income Austin residents’ ability to access safe, decent, and affordable housing through a variety of modes of advocacy, including education, litigation and empowerment strategies.

TRLA is the third largest legal services provider in the country and enjoys an exceptional litigation record. The organization is nationally recognized for its zealous representation of America’s most impoverished and oppressed populations, and its attorneys and support staff have achieved an enviable record of success in federal and state courts throughout Texas. TRLA recruits throughout the country and attracts many candidates who would be welcome in the most prestigious non-profit organizations in the country.

The BASTA paralegal will be responsible for conducting intakes which require him/her to do some preliminary interviewing and fact gathering for potential clients. The paralegal also manages cases and maintains communication with the client throughout the legal process. Some local and regional travel may be required to meet with clients who are unable to meet at the office, and assist with educational workshops for tenants.
As part of a comprehensive strategy, the BASTA paralegal will play a crucial role in ongoing litigation to improve housing conditions for tenants. The BASTA paralegal will assist in preparing court documents and the overall legal case.

Duties and Responsibilities:
1.Assist attorneys to represent clients in court;
2. Conduct eligibility and substantive interviews in person and by telephone;
3. Provide basic information and referrals to applicants for assistance;
4. Interview clients and witnesses, investigate facts and research law; 5. Serve process and subpoenas;
6. Prepare legal documents;
7. Notarize documents;
8. Prepare for and participate in community education meetings and presentations;
9. Translate orally and in writing;
10. Maintain accurate and complete client files and administrative records;
11. Prepare administrative reports required by TRLA;
12. Work collaboratively with BASTA outreach workers, Tenant Association members, and others in the community;
13. Comply with professional standards of a law practice, including ethical standards;
14. Any other duties required by the primary supervisor.

Qualifications:

Strong commitment to social justice required, along with self-motivation, reliability, and a sense of humor. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree and/or related experience and education. Excellent verbal and written skills are necessary and candidates will only be considered who are fluent in Spanish. Background in working with tenants and/or as part of a strategic campaign in collaboration with outreach workers is a plus.

TO APPLY:

Email a cover letter and resume to employment@trla.org.

Accountant I – Mercedes

The Accountant I works under the direct supervision of the Accounting Operations Manager and the general supervision of the Chief Financial Officer. The primary responsibilities are:

1. Assists in preparing necessary schedules required for annual audit.

2. Codes vouchers, invoices and claims for payment.

3. Has primary responsibility for preparing and entering data to the general ledger.

4. Verifies computer printouts for accuracy.

5. Pays travel, mileage, travel advance and out of pocket expenses.

6. Prepares bank deposit slips.

7. Responsible for all the accounting functions for TRLA pension plan including loans.

8. Performs any other duties as required by the Chief Financial Officer.

Qualifications:

1. A Bachelor’s of Business Administration Degree in Accounting or Finance, or equivalent work experience.
2. Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel); strong computer skills.
3. Bilingual in English and Spanish preferred.

Legal Secretary-Austin

TRLA-Austin has an opening for a legal secretary. The Legal Secretary will be recruited, hired and assigned by the Branch Manager, and be subject to discipline or removal according to the standard employment policies applicable to all TRLA secretaries.

Responsibilities:

• Drafting, editing, formatting and printing legal documents, correspondence and reports in Microsoft Word;
• Scanning, faxing and filing documents;
• Managing incoming and outgoing mail, faxes and telephone calls;
• Managing case file records on the TRLA Client Tracking System, the custom-written case management system, as well as the hard copy files;
• Managing and purchasing supplies, office equipment and furnishings; and,
• Miscellaneous administrative duties, including time sheets for payroll, travel reimbursement requests, and docket maintenance.

Minimum qualifications:

• Proficiency in the Windows operating system, Microsoft Word and Excel applications, and computer data entry;
• Bilingual in English and Spanish;
• Six months’ experience as a legal secretary.

Human Resources Director-Mercedes

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is seeking a Director of Human Resources to provide support to its staff of some 330 employees, including 170 attorneys, from its administrative offices located in Mercedes, Texas.

TRLA provides civil legal services to indigent clients throughout its 68-county service area in Southwest Texas, to farm workers throughout the state and in six southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee), and to victims of sexual assault and harassment in Northwest Texas as well as the rest of its service area. TRLA also operates a public defender program in several of its counties.

The TRLA Director of Human Resources implements TRLA policies and procedures, staffing, employment processing, compensation, training and development, employee relations, recruitment and retention, health and safety, employee benefits, unemployment, and worker’s compensation; implements compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and ensures that required state and federal employment standards are adhered to and required reporting is completed.

The HR Director also works closely with the accounting and resource development departments, participates in union negotiations on behalf of management, and attends quarterly meetings of the TRLA board of directors.

Qualifications:

College degree in relevant field;
Experience in human resources;
Proficient with PC computing, Microsoft Office applications, and Internet research;
Self-starter with ability to work independently and to supervise other staff;
Ability to travel.

Preference:

Bilingual in English and Spanish

Accountant II – Mercedes

TRLA has an opening for an Accountant II position. The Accountant II works under the direct supervision of the Accounting Operations Manager and the general supervision of the Chief Financial Officer. The primary responsibilities are:

1. Provide support for the accounting functions including reconciliations, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, fixed assets and financial reporting.

2. Verifies payroll changes and makes direct deposits.

3. Maintains cash receipts journal.

4. Performs month-end closings including preparation and/or review of journal entries, account reconciliations and reviews detailed financial statements.

5. Prepare and/or review weekly/monthly reconciliations for balance sheet accounts.

6. Research and analysis related to financial statements.

7. Provide assistance with budgeting process.

8. Responsible for maintaining TRLA fixed assets inventory.

9. Performs any other duties as required by the Chief Financial Officer.

Qualifications:

2. Bachelors’ in Business Administration degree with accounting emphasis
3. At least two years accounting experience through general ledger and journal entry.
4. Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel); strong computer skills.
5. Bilingual in English and Spanish preferred.

Compliance Coordinator/Administrator III–Mercedes

The Administrator III classification includes those employees whose work affects TRLA and its employees on a program-wide basis. Included are the following job descriptions:

COMPLIANCE COORDINATOR

Summary: Responsible for overseeing TRLA’s compliance with funding rules and regulations, for training staff on same, and for maintaining records regarding training conducted by TRLA. Serves as a member of TRLA’s administration and reports directly to the Grants Manager. Primary duties include:

• Prepares reports required by LSC and TAJF, including necessary research and analysis. Such reports include Legislative & Rulemaking, Non-Priority, Self-Inspection, LSC Grant Activity Report(GAR), and TAJF Self-Assessment Report (SAR);

• Responds to LSC and TAJF monitoring requests regarding compliance issues and works with administrative staff to prepare for monitoring visits;

• Responds to issues arising from monitoring visits;

• Assists administrative staff in responding to inquiries from LSC and TAJF;

• Provides support and information during LSC and TAJF application process;

• Prepares notifications required by LSC grant conditions, including replacement of an auditor; office relocation; change of email address; discovery of losses due to theft, fraud, embezzlement; receipt of notice of a claim for attorneys’ fees;

• Reviews CTS case files regularly for eligibility and other compliance issues, and ensures that needed corrections are made;

• Works with IT director to update CTS for compliance purposes;

• Ensures that eligibility guidelines are updated in the CTS and prepares proposed eligibility policy changes to be submitted to the board of directors when required;

• Oversees and coordinates the priority setting and needs appraisal processes, including preparation of the annual priorities review, and meets with the board priorities committee;

• Meets with the TRLA auditor to review non-financial audit requirements;

• Conducts in-person and web-based training of staff regarding eligibility, case management, and other grant requirements;

• Communicates with staff regarding funding regulations, including sending annual reminders;

• Coordinates updates and compliance-related revisions toPolicies and Procedures Manual;

• Coordinates with IT department to ensure that all non-HR TRLA documents and TRLA policies are accessible to all staff;

• Ensures that all staff receive PHI\HIPPA and other trainings required by law or regulation, and maintains records to document same;

• Oversees maintenance of records of all other in-house training;

• Performs any other duties required by the Grants Manager.

Qualifications:

• College degree in a relevant field.
• Experience in legal field, preferably with an LSC-funded program
• Proficient with PC computing, Microsoft Office applications, including Excel, Power Point, and Internet research.
• Ability to travel
• Self-starter with ability to work independently
• Detail-oriented with good time management skills
• Bilingual in English/Spanish preferred.

Social Worker-Mental Health – Beeville

The mental health social worker will work with TRLA’s regional public defender program under the supervision of a mental health attorney to help public defender clients develop a self-determination plan designed to reduce the cycle of criminal justice involvement, involuntary hospitalization, and homelessness.

Duties and Responsibilities:

• Develop and conduct needs assessments for each public defender client, including issues related to the client’s long term goals, mental health recovery, housing, employment, education, family relationships, and meaningful community integration.

• In collaboration with the mental health attorney, work with the client’s TRLA public defender to ensure the needs assessment and self-determination plans are personalized to encompass all conditions of probation or parole.

• Work with the mental health attorney to establish a relationship with the client. From the generalized categories developed in the project’s needs assessment, work with the client and mental health attorney to identify the client’s self-determination based supports and services in order to address the identified needs and potential barriers to successful reintegration.

• Work with the client to find creative, client specific, self-determination based approaches to the identified needs and potential barriers to successful reintegration.

• Work with the civil program staff to address related legal issues, including public benefits, housing, employment, disability rights and immigration consequences, in a holistic approach to the provision of comprehensive services.

• Establish and develop relationships with community services and potential supports, including, but not limited to, the local mental health authority, law enforcement, community supervision, the housing authority, adult education services, community leaders, and religious communities.

• Establish and develop relationships with supports identified by the client, including, if appropriate, the client’s immediate and extended family as well as friends, mentors and other supporters.

• Under the direction of the mental health attorney, advocate for the client to identify and implement creative, client-specific, self-determination based services and supports.

• Work with the client and the client’s chosen supports and services to develop and implement the client’s self-determination plan.

• Assist in data collection and analysis as necessary.

• Provide education and training as appropriate.

Qualifications:

• Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Licensed through the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners or be willing to become licensed.
• Fluent in Spanish
• Knowledge of public benefits
• Have transportation available, including valid driver’s license and automobile insurance
• Resourcefulness, creativity, initiative and drive, tact, and discretion

Preferred Qualifications:

• Lived experience with mental health challenges.
• Computer skills

How to Apply and Related Timelines:

For consideration, applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and three references with “Social Worker” in the subject line, to the following individuals:

To: Monica Bustamante, Recruitment Coordinator, at employment@trla.org, and Laurie Hallmark at lhallmark@trla.org.

The consideration of candidates is ongoing and will continue until the position is filled. The position is available immediately, although the start date is somewhat negotiable.