Employment Unit Paralegal

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Entry Level

Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia is seeking a paralegal in its Employment Unit located at the 1424 Chestnut Street office location. CLS’s mission is to fight poverty, challenge systems that perpetuate injustice and change lives through cutting-edge advocacy and exceptional legal representation. CLS is recognized as one of the leading legal services programs in the country.  We provide high quality direct legal representation, engage in systemic policy advocacy with the goal of effectuating broad based change, and conduct community education and outreach. 

CLS has several legal units providing free civil legal services to low-income Philadelphians. The Employment Unit’s work focuses on eliminating barriers to employment; fighting against worker exploitation; and ensuring workers receive the pay and benefits they are entitled to. The unit most commonly handles cases involving criminal record and child abuse record clearing; challenges to employer policies and state laws that overly restrict access to employment based on records; wage theft; and access to unemployment benefits.

The unit also handles a variety of other employment matters including sexual harassment; discrimination; job preservation (usually under the ADA or FMLA); job safety; and pension and employer-based disability benefits. The unit prioritizes cases involving workers who are more likely to face discrimination or exploitation, including immigrant workers and young workers, and we aim to approach our casework and advocacy through a racial justice lens.  

Summary of Position: This position is for a paralegal specializing in addressing barriers to employment caused by criminal records, combatting the consequences of the hyper-criminalization of poor, Black and brown individuals and families. Key job responsibilities include: 

  • Screening clients for eligibility for criminal record clearing and providing clients with advice or representation in the expungement, sealing, and pardon processes, under the supervision of attorneys.  

  • Advising clients about their rights under Fair Hiring laws, and drafting demand letters to employers to help connect clients with employment.  

  • Community engagement via participating in our community-based record clearing clinic program, as well as other opportunities to engage in outreach with community partners. 

  • Partnering with directly impacted people who are interested in advocating for changes to the law to help build power and capacity for long term systemic change.  

  • Engaging in advocacy on criminal records issues, such as our current effort to expand record clearing to felony convictions. 

CLS seeks applicants with the following qualifications: 

  • Commitment to working with diverse populations and advocating for racial and economic justice. 

  • Strong interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills. 

  • Experience or interest working in partnership with grassroots and community-based organizations. 

  • Strong analytical skills, including the ability to learn and apply new and complex areas of the law to client situations.  

  • Strong organizational and time management skills. 

  • Experience or interest in policy advocacy and other forms of impact advocacy. 

  • Sound professional judgment.  

  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest work. 

  • Experience using technology with an emphasis on Microsoft products (word, excel, Outlook, Sharepoint, OneDrive, etc.) is a plus.  

  • Abilities to speak Spanish or other languages is a plus. 

  • Lived experience with the criminal legal system is a plus. 

To Apply: CLS will accept applications on a rolling basis until the position is filled.  You can submit your application on CLS’s website online at https://clsphila.org/careers/  or by clicking "Apply Now" below. 

What to Include in your application: Please include a cover letter, resume, three professional references (past or current supervisors preferred) identifying your relationship, and one brief writing sample (10 pages or less).  

CLS values a diverse work environment and strongly encourages women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ, people with disabilities, people who have experienced poverty or homelessness and people who have had prior contact with the juvenile, criminal, or child welfare systems to apply. CLS invites all applicants to include in their cover letter a statement about how your unique background and/or experiences might contribute to the diversity, cultural vitality, and perspective of our staff and legal services practice.  

Compensation: This is a full-time position covered by the collective bargaining agreement between CLS and the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFL-CIO and its affiliate District 1199C. The current minimum starting salary is $44,230 for entry-level applicants, which increases with relevant years of experience and according to the provisions of the current collective bargaining agreement. CLS asks for a minimum two-year commitment from individuals who accept an offer of employment for a paralegal position.  

Benefits: CLS offers a very generous and competitive benefits package including 100% employer paid medical (including gender affirming care), life, and short/long-term disability benefits, a 403(b)-retirement plan with employer contribution, and a generous leave package, including 13 paid holidays and five personal holidays each year.  

Community Legal Services, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer. CLS, Inc. does not discriminate in the selection of employees on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, genetics, age, national origin, disability, or veteran status. In addition to federal law requirements, CLS complies with all applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.  

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