Job Opportunities

For consideration, email a cover letter, resume and references to employment@trla.org.

Apply to TRLA

For consideration, email a cover letter, resume and references to employment@trla.org.

Current Law Students

Current law school students play an important role in all of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)’s branch offices. With a 68-county service area in Texas and an office serving migrant farmworkers in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, TRLA offers numerous opportunities for current students to explore the world of legal aid.

TRLA Clerk

TRLA law clerks perform traditional research projects, interview clients and witnesses, assist with litigation related activities, and help develop cases. Generally, a clerk works with more than one attorney in practice areas of interest to the student. For more information, visit our clerks page.

Telephone Access to Justice

TRLA hires University of Texas and St. Mary's University law students for the Telephone Access to Justice Project (TAJ) in Austin and San Antonio. The part-time position offers the opportunity to develop practical legal skills and assist clients with a variety of legal problems. Law students who have completed their first or second year of law school and can work a minimum of 12-15 hours per week are eligible. For more information, visit our TAJ info page.

Deferral Volunteer Lawyers

In a creative response to the current recessionary economic environment, many law firms around the nation are offering to pay some of their associates to work with public interest programs until business activity restores the demand for lawyers. TRLA stands ready to do its part for the economy by offering lawyers whose employment has been deferred, or who have been furloughed, an opportunity to use their skills for the many thousands who would otherwise not be able to find access to the system of justice.

We offer a wide range of practice opportunities, from employment law to federal and state taxation, from litigation, both civil and criminal, to transactional work for community-based organizations. TRLA has 14 offices from Nashville, TN to El Paso, TX, including urban areas like Austin and San Antonio, the Gulf coast, the Mexican border, and the Trans-Pecos Mountain West.

If circumstances do not permit you to come to us, all is not lost. We have technology in place that allows the volunteer lawyer to stay where she is; as long as she has an internet connection, she can participate fully with other TRLA lawyers in zealous advocacy for the poor.

Browse our web site, with particular attention to the 37 practice areas in which we offer services, and then contact our Recruitment Coordinator, Monica Bustamante, at MBustamante@trla.org. Furnishing her a copy of your resume will speed the process of putting your talents to work for the common good.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information about these positions, contact:

S. Monica Bustamante
Risk & Materials Manager/Recruitment Coordinator
(915) 585-5100 or Fax (915) 544-3789
Email: employment@trla.org
Download Employment Application (.doc)

Law Clerks

TRLA law clerks perform traditional research projects, interview clients and witnesses, assist with litigation related activities, and help develop cases. Generally, a clerk works with more than one attorney in practice areas of interest to the student.

The best way for law students in Texas to find out more about TRLA and opportunities for law students is to attend the Public Service Career Day held at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law in February of each year. Students sign up via their career services office in December to interview with TRLA. Several TRLA attorneys from throughout the service area attend, interview students, and discuss their experiences as TRLA attorneys and opportunities for law students.

Offices

There are several offices located through TRLA's service area that students can choose from:

Practice Areas

TRLA has organized its services around a variety of practice areas (39 in all) that address the range of problems confronting the low-income community. These areas include:

  • Economic & Social Justice
  • Domestic Violence & Family
  • Housing
  • Individual Rights
  • Labor & Employment
  • Public Benefits

The Application Process

Students interested in clerk opportunities should send a cover letter stating their office preferences and resume to Monica Bustamante at mbustamante@trla.org. Students interested in clerking at the Nashville office should send a cover letter, resume, unofficial transcript, and writing sample to Caitlin Berberich at CBerberich@trla.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I get paid?

There are numerous funding opportunities available for summer clerks. Law schools generally have some summer fellowship funding available; students should check with their law school's career services office and public interest advisors about available resources. When TRLA has multiple students interested in sponsorship for a limited number of fellowships, such as the Texas Law Fellowships, priority is given to students interested in working in offices other than our Austin office. In addition, TRLA may obtain funding for some law clerk positions through various sections of the State Bar. Telephone Access to Justice Associates get paid an hourly wage.

Can I split my time with another organization?

Yes, a split summer can be accommodated in most situations.

Can these opportunities lead to full-time employment?

TRLA has ongoing hiring needs and has hired many attorneys over the last several years, many of whom are recent law school graduates who first came to TRLA as Telephone Access to Justice Associates or as law clerks. An interest in working in offices other than our Austin or San Antonio branches significantly increases opportunities for long-term employment.

Can I choose what office or practice areas I work in?

Clerks will be able to specify a preference in office location and practice areas. TRLA will attempt to honor these preferences as much as possible. Students should be aware that preferences to work in branch offices outside of San Antonio and Austin are easier to accommodate and can affect funding opportunities.

Do I need to know how to speak Spanish?

Because of the location of the service area, the ability to communicate in Spanish is preferred, but not required. For full-time attorney positions, if the applicant is not already fluent in the language, a commitment to become so is required.

For more information about these positions, contact:

S. Monica Bustamante Risk & Materials Manager/Recruitment Coordinator (915) 585-5100 or Fax (915) 544-3789 Email: employment@trla.org Download Employment Application (.doc)

Paralegal II -- Laredo

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has recently been funded by the Jones Day law firm to help it provide pro bono legal services to refugees detained in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail in Laredo, Texas.  TRLA seeks a Paralegal to work with asylum applicants, most of whom are women from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They are fleeing from the highest levels of violence in the Western Hemisphere, but after a perilous journey are promptly jailed upon crossing the Rio Grande and seeking asylum. The vast majority of the detainees have suffered traumatic experiences, including sexual assaults, robbery, extortion, and other acts of violence, in Central America or on the trip north. During their confinement in the Laredo facility, the inmates are subjected to a “credible fear interview” before a USCIS asylum officer, the first step in the asylum process. Almost none of the refugees are able to navigate the process without the professional assistance of trained lawyers and paralegals. Jones Day, a major international law firm, has undertaken focused pro bono representation of the detainees in the Laredo facility. The firm will be bringing partners, associates and support staff from offices all over the nation to provide extended representation to asylum applicants from the initiation of the process to its ultimate conclusion. The emphasis in Laredo is on the first step in that process – passing the credible fear interview. Follow-up representation will be pursued by Jones Day lawyers from its 18 US offices. The firm has asked TRLA, the general legal services provider in Southwest Texas, to support its pro bono efforts by providing on-the-ground services inside the facility. Duties: All candidates should possess a sense of urgency to protect asylum-seekers from deportation, empathy, and the ability to stay calm in the midst of crisis. The paralegals will work under the supervision of a lawyer inside the Laredo detention facility, performing the following duties:
  • Conduct intake interviews with new clients, including eligibility screening;
  • Develop specialized knowledge of asylum law and expedited removal;
  • Prepare individuals for credible and reasonable fear interviews with a USCIS Asylum Officer;
  • Prepare individuals who seek Immigration Judge review of a negative decision by an Asylum Officer;
  • Support clients who request release on bond after a positive credible or reasonable fear determination;
  • Draft declarations and gather evidence, including country conditions, that supports an individual’s eligibility for asylum;
  • Prepare filings for court;
  • Communicate with stakeholders, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  • Communicate with clients and their loved ones;
  • Provide Know-Your-Rights presentations;
  • Collaborate with current community partners and form new partnerships;
  • Create legal educational materials;
  • Support and collaborate with local and national volunteers;
  • Maintain accurate and complete client files and administrative records;
  • Prepare administrative reports;
  • Provide translation and interpretation; and
  • Provide legal information and referrals.
Required Qualifications: • Fluency in English and Spanish • College degree • Excellent oral and writing skills • Ability to work independently and as a part of a team • Flexibility to work evenings and weekends and accommodate an irregular work schedule • A proven commitment to supporting vulnerable immigrant populations Preferred: • Dedication to and experience in serving low-income populations • Experience working with survivors of trauma • Experience coordinating or participating in volunteer-based project How to Apply and Related Timelines: Applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and three references with “Paralegal Position - Family Detention Project” in the subject line, to the following individual: To: Monica Bustamante, Recruitment Manager, at employment@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.  

Staff Attorney - Laredo

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has recently been funded by the Jones Day law firm to help it provide pro bono legal services to refugees detained in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail in Laredo, Texas.  TRLA seeks a bilingual Staff Attorney to work with asylum applicants, most of whom are women from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They are fleeing from the highest levels of violence in the Western Hemisphere, but after a perilous journey are promptly jailed upon crossing the Rio Grande and seeking asylum. The vast majority of the detainees have suffered traumatic experiences, including sexual assaults, robbery, extortion, and other acts of violence, in Central America or on the trip north. During their confinement in the Laredo facility, the inmates are subjected to a “credible fear interview” before a USCIS asylum officer, the first step in the asylum process. Almost none of the refugees are able to navigate the process without the professional assistance of trained lawyers and paralegals.
Jones Day, a major international law firm, has undertaken focused pro bono representation of the detainees in the Laredo facility. The firm will be bringing partners, associates and support staff from offices all over the nation to provide extended representation to asylum applicants from the initiation of the process to its ultimate conclusion. The emphasis in Laredo is on the first step in that process – passing the credible fear interview. Follow-up representation will be pursued by Jones Day lawyers from its 18 US offices. The firm has asked TRLA, the general legal services provider in Southwest Texas, to support its pro bono efforts by providing on-the-ground services inside the facility.
Duties:
All candidates should possess a sense of urgency to protect asylum-seekers from deportation, empathy, and the ability to stay calm and collected in the midst of crisis. The Staff Attorney’s work with detained families inside the Laredo facility will include, but not be limited to, the following duties:
  • Develop specialized knowledge of asylum law and expedited removal;
  • Support Jones Day lawyers and staff in their representation of Laredo detainees;
  • Make know-your-rights presentations in Spanish to groups of detainees who are seeking asylum in the United States;
  • Represent individuals who will (1) participate in a credible or reasonable fear interview with a USCIS Asylum Officer, (2) seek Immigration Judge review of a negative decision by an Asylum Officer, and (3) request release on bond after a positive credible or reasonable fear determination.
  • File relevant complaints with the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties;
  • Communicate with stakeholders, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  • Collaborate with current community partners and form new partnerships;
  • Participate in community legal education. Prepare educational materials, make public presentations, and participate in TRLA outreach efforts;
  • Participate in other activities related to poverty law, including publication, permissible legislative and rule-making activities, media relations in accordance with TRLA policy and applicable laws and regulations;
  • Supervise and/or work with legal paraprofessionals and volunteers;
  • Assure compliance with grantor rules, restrictions and grant conditions;
  • Maintain accurate and complete client files and administrative records;
  • Prepare administrative reports;
  • Provide legal information and referrals; and
  • Fulfill all requirements necessary to remain in good standing with the State Bar and the Supreme Court of the applicable state, including but not limited to, compliance with the minimum requirements for Continuing Legal Education.
Required Qualifications:
  • Licensed to practice law. If not licensed to practice law in Texas, willing to apply
  • Bilingual in English and Spanish
  • Ability to work independently and as a part of a team
  • Flexibility to work evenings and weekends and accommodate an irregular work schedule
  • A proven commitment to supporting vulnerable immigrant populations
Preferred:
  • Dedication to and experience in serving low-income populations
  • Experience working with survivors of trauma
  • Experience coordinating community services, working with community partners, and/or participating in volunteer-based projects
How to Apply and Related Timelines:
For consideration, applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and three references with “Attorney Position - Family Detention Project” in the subject line, to the following individual: To: Monica Bustamante, Recruitment Manager, at employment@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.  

Staff Attorney--Dilley, Texas

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) seeks a Staff Attorney to work with Central American and Mexican refugee families held in a private prison in the rural South Texas community of Dilley, Texas. The families, most often a mother and one child, are fleeing from the highest levels of violence in the Western Hemisphere, but after a perilous journey are promptly jailed upon crossing the Rio Grande River. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has contracted with Corrections Corporation of America to detain up to 2,400 refugees at any given time in a compound located about 75 miles south of San Antonio.
     The vast majority of the detainees have suffered traumatic experiences, including sexual assault, robbery, extortion, and other acts of violence, in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, or on the trip north. During their confinement in the Dilley facility, the inmates are subjected to a “credible fear interview” before a USCIS asylum officer, the first step in the asylum process. Almost all of the refugees are unable to navigate the process without the professional assistance of trained lawyers and paralegals.
      In response to the government’s inhumane treatment of asylum-seekers, four non-profit organizations, collectively known as the CARA Pro Bono Project (CARA), joined forces to assure detained families have access to legal services and to end the practice of family detention. CARA’s work ignited a national movement of advocates and allies committed to standing alongside detained families to defend their rights to due process and international protection as refugees. Volunteer lawyers from all over the country come to Dilley to join a small group CARA staff for an intense week of pro bono services. For a short video about CARA’s work, see: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/How-to-crowdsource-a-refugee-ri
     Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. began assisting the CARA staff in 2016. TRLA is one of the largest legal services programs for the poor in the country. Its 180 lawyers provide civil and criminal representation to the indigent residents of South and West Texas, including representation in immigration matters. TRLA seeks to augment resources in the jail in Dilley by hiring staff attorneys to sustain this critical work in the coming year.
Duties:
     The Staff Attorney will work with detained families at the South Texas Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas. The attorney will screen clients for eligibility, provide direct legal services, and collaborate closely with existing pro bono efforts. The candidate must be self-directed, creative, and motivated.  Among other duties, the attorney will:
  •  Develop specialized knowledge of asylum law and expedited removal; • Interview detained families and conduct intake; • Evaluate eligibility for relief from removal; • File motions for custody redetermination; • Assist and counsel individuals seeking asylum, including preparing for credible fear interviews and Immigration Judge review of a negative decision by an Asylum Officer; • Communicate with stakeholders, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; • Collaborate with current community partners and form new partnerships; • Participate in community legal education. Prepare educational materials, make public presentations, and participate in TRLA outreach efforts; • Supervise and/or work with legal paraprofessionals and volunteers; • Maintain accurate and complete client files and administrative records; and • Fulfill all requirements necessary to remain in good standing with the State Bar and the Supreme Court of the applicable state, including but not limited to, compliance with the minimum requirements for Continuing Legal Education.
 
Qualifications:
Required Qualifications:
  •  JD from accredited university. • Licensed to practice law. If not licensed to practice law in Texas, willing to apply • Bilingual in English and Spanish • Ability to work independently and as a part of a team • Flexibility to work evenings and weekends and accommodate an irregular work schedule • A proven commitment to supporting vulnerable immigrant populations Preferred: • Dedication to and experience in serving low-income populations • Experience working with survivors of trauma • Experience coordinating community services, working with community partners, and/or participating in volunteer-based projects.
How to Apply and Related Timelines:
     For consideration, applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and three references with “Attorney Position - Family Detention Project” in the subject line, to the following individuals:
To: Monica Bustamante, Recruitment Manager, at employment@trla.org “cc”: Shalyn Fluharty, Director – Family Detention Project, at sfluharty@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.

Staff Attorney--Rio Grande Valley

STAFF ATTORNEY - DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/FAMILY LAW TEAM FOR THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY
 The position of domestic violence/family law staff attorney is a professional position with duties and activities of an extremely diverse nature including working on systemic issues and representing individual victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in civil legal cases. The staff attorney works under the supervision of a family team manager.  The primary duties and activities of the staff attorney may include the following and any other such duties and activities as are related to the practice of law by an attorney:
  • Practices civil law for eligible clients in accordance with the Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct of the applicable state and consistent with office standards of practice;
  • Supervises and/or works with legal paraprofessionals as assigned;
  • Complies with all case reporting requirements, including timekeeping, case activities, legislative and rulemaking, private attorney involvement, community education presentations, etc.
  • Keeps current on the state of the law and procedures within areas of law ordinarily handled by the Team to which assigned.
  • Participates in community legal education as directed by the Executive Director, Branch Manager or Team Manager.  Prepares educational materials and/or makes public presentations on relevant topics as assigned and participates in TRLA and/or office outreach efforts.
  • Participates in other activities related to poverty law, including publication, permissible legislative and rulemaking activities, media relations in accordance with TRLA policy and applicable laws and regulations.
  • Commensurate with experience, consults, guides and answers questions of other staff members.
  • Fulfills all requirements necessary to remain in good standing with the State Bar and the Supreme Court of the applicable state, including but not limited to, compliance with the minimum requirements for Continuing Legal Education.
  • Attends and/or coordinates clinics or other events as requested by the Branch or Team Manager.
  • Maintains relationships with other programs and agencies as requested by the Branch or Team Manager, including, but not limited to, attending meetings of such programs and/or agencies.
Qualifications
  1. Licensed to practice in the applicable state or be willing to apply and take the applicable Bar exam at the next available opportunity.
  2. Commitment to working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  3. Preference given to those persons bilingual in English and Spanish.

Staff Attorneys - Civil Division: All TRLA Locations

Staff attorneys are needed at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, to provide civil legal services to indigent clients throughout its 68-county service area in Southwest Texas. The area includes rapidly growing border cities, rural communities, and large metropolitan areas like Austin and San Antonio. With 120 lawyers, TRLA operates one of the largest civil legal services programs in the country and is nationally recognized for high quality, zealous advocacy for its clients. The attorneys will specialize through one or more of the 40+ practice area teams addressing such disparate issues as immigration, domestic violence, farm labor, international child abduction, sexual assault, LGBT issues, civil rights, and employment discrimination.  Depending on the practice area or the community, the attorney might litigate complex cases in federal courts, engage in transactional work for colonia residents, or develop a litigation-oriented practice in the state courts in the region.  The border offices provide services to substantial numbers of migrant farm workers and other low-wage workers, the vast majority of whom are Hispanic and Spanish-speaking. Salary is commensurate with experience and includes an excellent fringe benefits package, including law school loan repayment.

Qualifications:

  • Licensed to practice law in Texas, able to waive into the Texas bar, or willing to take the next available bar exam, in that order of preference
  • Preference for lawyers who are functionally fluent in Spanish at a professional level
  • Maintain  continuing legal education requirements

For consideration, please submit a cover letter, resume and references to mbustamante@trla.org and on the subject line indicate the preferred position and city.