We are Hiring Assistant Appellate Defenders

Apply March 11, 2022

JOB SUMMARY: Join Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) as an Assistant Appellate Defender working statewide to address injustices and disparities in the criminal legal system based on race, class, ability, behavioral health, and other identifying characteristics and statuses. We are appointed by the trial courts to work with our clients to appeal their felony convictions. The pay ranges from $60,000 for new attorneys to $122,000 for senior-level attorneys.

Assistant Appellate Defenders represent appointed clients for direct appeal or other post-conviction proceedings, involving challenges to convictions and sentences following trials and guilty pleas. Attorneys will engage in a wide range of legal work, including:

  • Travel to Michigan’s prisons and jails for client consultation
  • Research on legal issues and composition of appellate and trial court briefs
  • Argument in the trial and appellate courts, including the Michigan Supreme Court
  • Development of new evidence for evidentiary hearings in Michigan’s trial courts
  • Collaboration with staff investigator to develop factual investigation and identification of the need for expert services necessary to develop viable appellate or postconviction claims.

ABOUT US: Due in large part to Michigan’s unique appellate system, SADO attorneys work in trial courts and appellate courts across the state to achieve tangible results for clients and to improve the system. We put our clients’ goals front and center and strive to show the courts that each client is more than a case number and is entitled to equitable treatment and justice.

Michigan is one of the only states in the country that allows appellate attorneys to develop new evidence and hold evidentiary hearings in trial courts as part of a direct appeal. Working directly in the trial courts to expand the record on appeal contributes to frequent grants of new trials1 and significant reductions in a person’s prison sentence.

Attorneys and their clients work with a team, including investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals, reentry specialists, and administrative staff. Attorneys travel the state to meet with clients in prisons and jails and to advocate in court, from Marquette to Macomb and from St. Joseph to Sault Ste. Marie.

SADO attorneys frequently appear in the Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court and play an important role in shaping criminal law in Michigan.2 SADO attorneys also have advocated before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

We have several internal committees and projects aimed at being an active member of the community, including Michigan Department of Corrections Quality of Life,3 Strategic Litigation, Court Rules and Legislation, Project Reentry, and the Racial Justice Initiative. Our fifty-plus staff members form a community advocating for clients and a fairer criminal legal system. Visit www.sado.org to learn more.

QUALIFICATIONS: Applicants must either be current members of the Michigan Bar, eligible to waive into the bar, or eligible to sit for the February 2022 bar exam. Applicants must have a commitment to indigent defense, public service, and racial equity. Skills in legal research and writing, client communication, and oral advocacy are preferred. The location for this position is a hybrid environment between remote and in-office at either our Lansing or Detroit office.

BENEFITS: State employee benefits are comprehensive and include:

  • Medical, dental, vision, and life insurance
  • 401k plan with up to a 9% employer contribution
  • 12 paid holidays
  • 3 weeks of paid vacation in year one
  • Paid sick time and, for eligible employees, paid parental leave
  • Long-term disability insurance
  • Flexible work hours
  • Hybrid work environment (remote/office)
  • Paid training opportunities

TO APPLY: Submit a cover letter stating your interest in the position. Include your resume and a redacted writing sample.

Writing Sample Special Instructions: As part of its commitment to diversity in the workplace and its goal to prevent hiring bias, we ask that applicants submit redacted writing samples, which will be reviewed without access to applicant information and scored based on objective criteria. Your name, address, work affiliation, and other identifiers should be redacted from your writing sample. Files should be named generically, and your name should not be a part of the filename. For example, you can name the file WS1.pdf or WritingSample.pdf.

Applications should be emailed by March 11, 2022 to Human Resources at hr@sado.org.

SADO is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recognize people of color are disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system and actively seek to employ staff with backgrounds representative of its clients and the defense community. We strongly encourage people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ people, and people directly affected by the criminal legal system to apply. A felony conviction does not prohibit employment at SADO.

www.sado.org | @SADOmich

1 Read about a recent new trial grant.

2 See a remote SADO argument before the Michigan Supreme Court. As a result of SADO advocacy, the Court issued a sweeping opinion protecting the Fourth Amendment rights of people to be secure in the contents of their cell phones. Read the unanimous opinion.

3 Read recent recommendations from SADO about how the Michigan Department of Corrections can address the COVID-19 crisis inside our prisons.