DIRECTOR, PUBLIC DEFENDER DIVISION ~ ABNER BURNETT Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
316 South Closner Blvd., Edinburg, TX 78539
Friday, August 21, 2020
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, the nation’s largest civil legal services program, operates an innovative public defender program now in ten rural South Texas counties. The TRLA Rural Defender Service offers wrap-around, holistic legal services to its clients charged with criminal offenses. This may include representation from the civil program in such collateral matters as immigration, mental health, public benefits, housing, and employment, as the defenders provide vigorous representation in the underlying criminal case. The comprehensive service may extend beyond the resolution of the criminal case if needed by the client. On both sides of the docket, TRLA pursues its client’s objectives with zeal, creativity, and a passion for excellence.
TRLA currently seeks felony-qualified lawyers to serve in the Coastal Bend area of South Texas, approximately 90 miles southeast of San Antonio. Currently, we have an office in Beeville, Texas that serves Bee, Live Oak, McMullen, Goliad, and Refugio counties. We may be opening another office in the area this year.
The TRLA Rural Defender Service Is jointly funded by the counties it serves and the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. Accordingly, it adheres to caseload limitations set by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.
TRLA represents persons charged with crimes from initial arrest to final appeal, except for cases where conflicts exist or the death penalty is being sought. TRLA’s public defender program organizes its case assignments vertically – the lawyer initially assigned to a case stays with the client for the duration unless extenuating circumstances arise. The public defender division handles 100% of the criminal court appointments docket in its service area, apart from conflicts that arise.
Compensation, benefits, and training:
Salary is commensurate with experience and includes an excellent fringe benefits package. That benefits package includes law school loan repayment at 60% of law school debt in the first 12 months of employment, 80% in the second year, and 100% after 24 months.
In addition to a strong internal mentoring program, TRLA Defenders utilize trial lawyer training programs at the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, National Association for Public Defense, and Gideon’s Promise. TRLA provides trainings customized for specific needs of our team. Lawyers with the TRLA Rural Defenders Service receive opportunities to train and learn from highly experienced trial lawyers throughout the country on various areas of expertise at no-to-low cost.
Qualifications and preferences:
The candidate must have a Texas license and significant experience (five years minimum) in criminal trial practice in Texas.
Preferred applicants will have demonstrated an interest in providing justice to those who need it most, have strong academic credentials, are functionally fluent in Spanish, and want to live and work where the greatest need is in the TRLA service area.
Additionally, TRLA is looking for a few attorneys that aspire to become managing attorneys in our public defender program. We encourage attorneys that would like to develop as leaders in the public defender community. We cover registration fees and expenses for participation in advanced leadership programs
TRLA is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to an equitable workplace.
Step One -- Apply online: https://trla.wufoo.com/forms/r18n7vw20gxf1kp/
Step Two -- Selected applicants will be contacted for a telephone interview.
Step Three -- Typically, selected applicants will be invited to visit TRLA offices and meet with staff and tour the service area. TRLA will provide travel, accommodations and food throughout the visit.