Staff Attorney - Public Benefits

· Ithaca, New York
Employment Type Full-Time
Minimum Experience Entry-level
Compensation Dependent Upon Experience





The Ithaca office of Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. (LawNY) has an immediate opening for a Public Benefits 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 Ithaca office primarily serves residents of Tompkins and Tioga Counties.


The Staff Attorney will provide direct legal representation to claimants for various government benefits programs, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Public Assistance (PA), Medicaid (MA), and Unemployment Insurance (UI). This work will include administrative appeals within the government agency’s appeals process, as well as litigation in state and federal court. We also work with a diverse group of community stakeholders in our efforts to help tenants maintain their current housing or re-locate to secure and stable alternative housing.


Core responsibilities include: 

  • Developing specialized knowledge of administrative law and state/ federal court practice, as it relates to claims for SSI, PA, MA and UI benefits.
  • Maintaining a full-time caseload, including representation of eligible clients at administrative hearings, in the administrative appeals process, and in court.
  • Client interviews and investigation.
  • Representing clients zealously within the bounds of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • Collaborating with other LawNY advocates, human services providers, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders to address problems affecting low income and marginalized members of the community.
  • Outreach activities, including connecting with and providing client groups with relevant legal information and available resources.


The applicant must have the caring, patience, and emotional maturity to help low-income people overcome crisis situations. LawNY is committed to equitable inclusion across race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, sex, religion, economic circumstances, ethnicity, national origin, and culture. We are striving to transcend the construct of race and be an anti-racist law firm. We encourage staff to bring their whole selves to work each day and pledge to celebrate every aspect of who they are.



  • Applicants must be admitted to the New York State Bar, eligible for admission, or qualify for a practice order. Law school graduates who take the first available New York State bar examination following completion of law school may qualify for a practice order pending admission to the New York State bar pursuant to the LawNY practice order.  
  • 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, Excel, and 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 and Benefits: Salary is dependent on experience. The salary for a full time Staff Attorney with no prior experience is $51,820 and the salary for a Staff Attorney with five years of relevant experience is $59,320. The salary will increase annually based upon LawNY®’s salary scale.


LawNY® provides an excellent health insurance, disability and employee benefits package:


-94% employer paid health insurance (with significant HSA contributions to offset high deduction)    

-100% employer paid dental and disability insurance                                                         

-$50,000 automatic life insurance   


Leave: We also provide a very generous leave package including, in the first year of employment, 4 weeks of vacation,12 sick days and 5 personal days. New parents receive 20 days of paid new parent leave.


HOW TO APPLY: To apply, submit your cover letter, resume, three references and a writing sample to the attention of Keith McCafferty, Managing Attorney through LawNY®’s BambooHR® platform. Please State clearly in your cover letter which position you are applying for. Applications will be reviewed until the position is filled.



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
    Ithaca, New York
  • Employment Type
  • Minimum Experience
  • Compensation
    Dependent Upon Experience