Staff Attorney - Unemployment Insurance Benefits

· Rochester, New York
Employment Type Full-Time
Compensation DOE




The Rochester office of Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. ® (LawNY) has an immediate opening for a Staff Attorney. LawNY is a not-for-profit law firm providing civil legal services to low-income clients in a 14-county area of western New York, including the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions. The Rochester office primarily serves residents of Monroe County.

POSITION SUMMARY: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals within LawNY’s service area have become unemployed and face barriers in obtaining employment, receiving benefits they have been approved for and navigating complicated government systems. LawNY has seen an approximately 400% increase in requests for assistance in unemployment insurance benefit matters since the beginning of the pandemic. LawNY is seeking an attorney to provide direct legal representation primarily in unemployment insurance benefits matters, including administrative hearings. 

Core responsibilities include: 

  • Assistance and legal advocacy related to helping low-income people maintain their income supports in Monroe County.
  • Providing representation in administrative hearing forums and the court system to challenge wrongful public benefit determinations.
  • Assist LawNY’s regional pro bono team in placing unemployment insurance benefits cases from LawNY’s rural geographic service area with volunteer attorneys.
  • Client interviews and investigation.
  • Represents clients zealously within the bounds of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • Data collection and file maintenance.
  • Outreach activities.
  • Relationship-building with court staff, community groups and other stakeholders.

The applicant must have the caring, patience, and emotional maturity to help low-income people overcome crisis situations. Due to COVID-19, LawNY staff are working remotely all or part of the week. LawNY maintains an extensive safe operations plan and seeks to ensure the safety of both our staff and our clients. All staff are still required to fulfill their professional obligations, which will require direct in-person contact with clients and in-person appearances in court or administrative agencies as needed to perform the functions of their role. 


  • Admission to the New York State Bar.  
  • A commitment to helping poor and disadvantaged people overcome institutional barriers to legal access.

Desired Skills: 

  • Prior legal experience with low-income and other oppressed communities and clients.
  • Lived experience with our client communities is highly desired.
  • Strong problem-solving abilities, time management, and organizational skills.
  • Ability to work under deadlines and manage multiple tasks.
  • Ability to empathize and sensitively respond to people in crisis situations.
  • Excellent use of Google Drive/GSuite, Word, and Excel; database programs a plus.
  • Proficiency in Spanish is an advantage but is not required.
  • Passion for social justice and commitment to the mission of LawNY.

Salary:  Salary is dependent on experience and based on a pay scale with annual increments.  The beginning salary for a Staff Attorney with no prior experience is $50,000, and the salary for a Staff Attorney with five years of relevant experience is $57,500 per the LawNY salary scale. We also provide an excellent package of fringe benefits, including health, disability, and life insurance, as well as generous leave provisions.

Procedure:  Applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, three references and a writing sample to the attention of Lori M. O’Brien, Deputy Director.  Applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. For full consideration, apply by September 7, 2021.

Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. ® (LawNY) is an equal opportunity employer. LawNY encourages applications from diverse candidates.  LawNY welcomes applications regardless of race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or any other consideration protected by law.  This position is considered Exempt pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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  • Location
    Rochester, New York
  • Employment Type
  • Compensation