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Staff Attorney (family law)

Purpose. Dignity. Action.

Staff Attorney (Family Law)


Purpose. Dignity. Action (PDA) (formerly The Public Defender Association) is looking for a Staff Attorney to provide legal services to individuals who have been diverted away from criminal system involvement to LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion/Let Everyone Advance with Dignity) services. PDA seeks an attorney, with experience representing parents in family law or dependency cases, who is motivated to help those most frequently harmed by existing criminal legal and social service systems, including those with disabilities, people of color, those living unsheltered, and survivors of past incarceration.

The Staff Attorney will assist LEAD participants who seek to reconnect with their children through a variety of family law procedures, typically after a period of disconnection caused by lack of access to housing, criminal legal involvement, and/or behavioral health. The Staff Attorney may also work on other types of cases in a widely-varied legal practice, ranging from criminal and eviction defense to immigration petitions and public benefits work. The most important characteristics applicants can possess are the ability to work independently and efficiently learn new legal practice areas, strong legal research and writing skills, and strong instinctive advocacy ability. Qualified candidates will enjoy developing creative legal approaches to address the harms created by conventional responses to crime and public order issues.

Organization Description

PDA advocates for criminal legal system reform and develops alternatives that shift from a punishment paradigm to a system that supports individual and community health. Grounding reform in a public health and safety framework, PDA develops new strategies and implements models that improve on conventional responses to crime and public order issues. In collaboration with community and government partners, PDA uses policy advocacy, organizing, litigation, and public education to achieve its goals. PDA is comprised of several projects: Seattle King County LEAD project management, CoLEAD temporary lodging/outreach/housing advocacy, LEAD Support Bureau (international, national and Washington State technical support for LEAD replication), and VOCAL-WA. PDA also catalyzed the JustCARE alternative to sweeps/displacement, to assist in resolution of encampments during the first two years of the COVID pandemic.

Job Description

The Staff Attorney will offer trauma-informed legal services to clients in the LEAD and CoLEAD programs, all of whom were referred and approved for program participation because of their exposure to enforcement and legal system sanctions. LEAD and CoLEAD are pre-booking community-based alternatives (not court-based). Participants tend to have a wide array of long standing barriers and obstacles that need to be addressed to improve chances of stabilization, recovery and thriving; the effort to tackle many of these obstacles benefits from help from legal counsel. Many participants have a primary goal of reconnecting with their children, often after a period of estrangement resulting from a lack of housing, criminal legal involvement and/or behavioral health issues.

The attorney’s work will focus on developing creative strategies for representing parents seeking to reconnect with their children. The LEAD Legal team is looking, specifically, for an attorney with experience representing parents in family law and/or dependency/termination cases. Participants’ family law cases have a variety of procedural postures, including existing parenting plans limiting the participant’s access to the children, minor guardianships, old third-party custody orders, and information arrangements.

Other common practice areas for the legal team include public benefits issues, debt relief, immigration, and warrant quash assistance. In addition to its focus on family law cases, the position will require the Staff Attorney to connect clients to existing legal aid providers and learn new areas of law to provide direct representation in other types of matters, as well.

LEAD clients face a variety of challenges, including homelessness, mental illness, and substance use, that can complicate their ability to engage with legal services and the way they are treated by the legal system. Legal services will be provided through the principles of harm-reduction—meeting clients where they are in a way that is responsive to their specific needs. The attorney will work closely with client case managers at the LEAD direct service provider agencies (presently, Evergreen Treatment Services REACH Program, Community Passageways, and Downtown Emergency Service Center’s (DESC) Community Outreach and Advocacy Team (COAT)), and case managers with PDA’s lodging-based CoLEAD program, to ensure that the legal representation plan aligns with the client’s broader social service goals.

Depending on funding, a small portion of the Staff Attorney’s work may include working as a part of PDA’s broader work of advancing system reform to address racial disparities in the criminal legal system. This work may be done using policy advocacy, impact litigation, and/or legal representation, and limited lobbying.

The Staff Attorney will work on a team of five attorneys and two paralegals.



PDA’s office is located at 110 Prefontaine Pl. S., Seattle, WA. Although the office remains open for necessary in-person work, staff currently work largely remotely. In-person work will be required if necessary to provide legal services. Travel within Washington may be required. In the future, PDA may adopt a hybrid model, where staff will work from home and from the office, as needed. At present, however, legal staff work primarily remotely.

Essential Job Qualification

(Any equivalent combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, education, and experience)

Education: J.D.

Licensure: Member, in good-standing, of the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA); or ability to quickly obtain APR 8(c) admission, with full WSBA admission by June 2024.

Experience: Experience representing parents in family law and/or dependency termination/cases strongly preferred. .

Knowledge and Skills:

● Exceptional legal representation, research, oral and written advocacy skills;

● Demonstrated capacity for flexibility, creativity, and innovation, as well as the ability to work on tight and sometimes unpredictable timelines;

● The ability to issue spot, independently and efficiently learn new legal practice areas, and offer representation with a high level of competence;

● Demonstrated cultural competence and sensitivity in working with diverse clients, communities, and colleagues;

● Experience providing legal services to individuals who have difficulty consistently engaging in their own representation, including those with mental illness, substance use disorder, and other disabilities;

● Demonstrated commitment to partnership with non-attorney colleagues, with strong conflict management skills and the ability to tactfully engage with external partners; and

● Commitment to a harm-reduction approach to legal work, including meeting clients “where they’re at” without judgment and without the prerequisite of abstinence from substance use. This commitment requires creativity in pursuing clients’ goals within systems that may not typically be comfortable or familiar with harm-reduction strategies.


Salary range (2024) is $77,124-130,325, depending on comparable experience. Within the position salary range, salary increases approximately 6% per year to the top of the scale (ten steps). An additional annual cost of living increase may be provided at the discretion of the Board of Directors.

Benefits presently include:

● 401k match of up to 4% of salary, beginning after six months of employment;

● Annual additional profit sharing contribution to 401k up to 2% at the discretion of the Board;

● Generous medical and dental benefits for employees and family members;

● 15 days vacation, accrued annually, increasing to 20 days vacation, accrued annually;

● 12 Sick Safe & Personal days, accrued annually;

● Unlimited ORCA card for staff who use public transportation for work; and

● Monthly $50 employer cell phone contribution, or office cell phone.

This is a Fair Labor Standards Act exempt, at-will position; continuation in the position depends on both performance and funding. Employment may be terminated for any lawful reason including organizational business needs.


Equal Opportunity Employer

PDA is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and fosters an environment free of barriers and discriminatory practices. PDA actively promotes mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork and productivity. PDA is committed to maintaining an organization whose staff, Board and clients are diverse in background, experience, race, color, national origin, gender, age, religious affiliation, marital status, sexual identity, sensory, mental or physical abilities, veteran status, and other qualities that strengthen the program while reinforcing its commitment to basic fairness. People of color, women, those directly impacted by the criminal legal system, people who identify as queer, trans, lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and those with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Individuals needing a reasonable accommodation for the application or interview process should contact Skylar Brett (she/her pronouns) at or 425-331-9018.

How to Apply

The position will remain open until filled. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Please submit the following via the ADP portal at

● Letter of interest.

● Resumé.

● One legal writing sample, unedited by others.

● Names and contact information for three references.

NOTE that all materials will need to be uploaded as attachments in the ADP portal. Applications will be considered once they are complete.

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