Resource Counsel, Return to Freedom Project National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has long advocated for the relief for individuals serving over harsh sentences and those suffering life-altering consequences from contact with the criminal legal system. The Return to Freedom Project (R2F) helps impacted individuals by recruiting, training, and supporting volunteer attorneys to assist those individuals seeking clemency, compassionate release, and expungement. The R2F unites projects such as the Cannabis Release Project, the Trial Penalty Clemency Project, and other clemency and compassionate release efforts under a single banner at NACDL. Learn more about the Return to Freedom Project at

The Resource Counsel will provide support for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL’s) Return to Freedom Project, including the Cannabis Justice Initiative and the District of Columbia Compassionate Release Project. This position serves as the first line legal resource for the Project’s pro bono volunteers.

Since the launch of the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project in 2017, the Return to Freedom Initiatives have:

  • Recruited 2,050 volunteers from 500 firms and other organizations,
  • Received 9,500 applications for assistance,
  • Placed 1,250 cases with firms,
  • Filed 1,295 petitions and motions for relief with our Federal/state/local public defender partners,
  • Regained freedom for 248 individuals,
  • Reduced sentences by 1,425 years, and
  • Freed 32 Lifers (or life equivalent).


  • Respond to volunteer questions on compassionate release under D.C. law.
  • Maintain updated resource materials for the online reference libraries.
  • Craft, and advise on, regular communication to volunteer regarding policy, resources, and legal updates.
  • Develop and execute webinars and Q&A sessions relating to the projects.
  • Assist with applicant intake.
  • Filing federal clemency and/or compassionate release motions as needed.
  • Work with partner organizations to best utilize subject matter experts.
  • Recruit/cultivate relationships with experts in medicine, social work, and re-entry to support the projects.
  • Distribute questions to subject area experts.
  • Participate in partner meetings.


  • A J.D. degree and a minimum of 4 years of litigation experience, including experience defending criminal cases, litigating compassionate release, and/or relevant civil rights cases
  • Admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and a member of the bar in good standing
  • 2 years of experience in criminal practice in the District of Columbia
  • Federal criminal practice experience preferred
  • Experience with compassionate release, clemency, and/or expungement preferred
  • Excellent research, writing, and public speaking skills
  • Ability to engage in complex legal analysis and fact-finding
  • Ability to work independently as well as within a team
  • Ability to manage competing priorities and rapid-response demands


We value the collaborative work environment in our Washington, DC office, however, due to the COVID-19 virus, employees are working remotely. There are remote opportunities available for this position. NACDL employees enjoy a generous package of employee benefits, including subsidized health, dental and vision insurance, company-paid life and disability insurance, flexible spending accounts, a pre-tax commuting subsidy, a 401(k) plan with generous company contributions, paid time off and paid holidays.

Qualified candidates will be expected to start as soon as possible.

To apply, please visit

NACDL is an equal opportunity employer. NACDL is committed to engaging a diverse workforce and provides equal opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, citizenship status, veteran status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, matriculation or political affiliation or any other protected classification which may be applicable under the law. All qualified individuals, including those with personal experience within the criminal legal system, are welcomed and encouraged to apply.

Job Type: Full-time


  • 401(k)
  • 401(k) matching
  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off


  • Monday to Friday


  • Bar (Preferred)

Work Location:

  • Fully Remote

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