Staff Attorney, Unemployment Compensation Unit Full-Time Position



Philadelphia Legal Assistance (“PLA”) is the federally funded civil legal aid provider for Philadelphia’s indigent community, providing high-volume, high-quality legal services including community education, advice, referral, pro se assistance, and representation at administrative hearings as well as at all levels of state and federal courts in the areas of basic human needs: family safety, health, income maintenance, and home preservation.


The Unemployment Compensation Unit is a national leader in unemployment compensation litigation and advocacy.  Unemployment compensation is a vital social safety net that provides temporary income replacement to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.  The Unit represents over 500 clients a year, providing counsel and advice, representation at administrative hearings, and briefing in administrative appeals.  Over the last several years, attorneys have filed over 20 impact cases in Pennsylvania appellate courts, appearing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Commonwealth Court.  Furthermore, PLA strives to have a larger impact on our clients’ lives through our advanced use of data collection and analysis.  We use this information to inform our advocacy with the PA Department of Labor and Industry and to continuously improve our outreach and community education efforts.   



The staff attorney will serve primarily as a case advocate and litigator.  As a case advocate, the staff attorney will provide legal advice and represent clients in administrative hearings that involve the presentation of evidence and the direct and cross examinations of witnesses.  Many cases will also include drafting and filing administrative briefs with the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.  The staff attorney also will be expected to identify potential impact cases for affirmative litigation and represent clients in direct appeals to Pennsylvania appellate courts. 

The advocate will work with the unit to track case information and identify factual and legal trends that may need to be addressed with the state agency.  For example, the unit is currently focused on the barriers to unemployment benefits for home health aides.  We expect this attorney will also work with the unit supervisor on her extensive policy work and public education addressing the deployment of new computer systems for the evaluation and payment of UC benefits.  There will also be opportunities to gain experience with various other aspects of policy practice, including legislative testimony, white papers and policy briefs, community outreach, communication with government agencies, and Right-to-Know and FOIA requests.  There will be opportunities for the attorney to gain substantive knowledge of other state and federal employment laws, including state and federal minimum wage and overtime, anti-discrimination, and tax laws. 

We expect this attorney to also assist with supervision of law student interns and externs.


Law degree and admission to a PA Bar, or a willingness to take the PA bar exam.  Candidates with at least 2 to 5 years of client representation experience are preferred, but newer attorneys also will be considered.  Commitment to and passion for workers’ rights and employment issues will be looked upon with favor.  Strong public speaking and writing skills required.  Prior experience supervising other staff or law students preferred.  Spanish fluency helpful, but not required.

The current 3-person unit works closely together and prioritizes teamwork.  Attorneys who work well in teams and appreciate a family-like atmosphere will be a good fit for the unit.  Driven and task-oriented self-starters preferred. 

Prior work experience at a public interest law firm or in the area of employment law preferred. 


Salary and Benefits:


Salary commensurate with experience and comparable to other public interest salaries. PLA provides excellent benefits including fully paid medical for employees and their dependents, a 403B retirement plan, and generous paid leave.


Application Process:


Philadelphia Legal Assistance is an equal opportunity employer.  All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply, especially people with diverse backgrounds and experiences based on age, race, ethnicity, cultural identity, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, sexual identity, disabilities, and socioeconomics.  Interested applicants should email a cover letter, resume, references, and a five page legal writing sample to  Application deadline is October 22, 2019.  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and the position will remain open until filled.  We encourage applicants to submit applications early.

Anticipated Start date:         Fall 2019


Hiring Timeframe:               Rolling, final application deadline of October 22, 2019


Application requirements:   Cover letter, resume, references, and a five-page legal-writing writing sample

How To Apply: 

Send resume to: