Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS OAD?

OAD was created in 1988 by a resolution of the Administrative Board of the Courts to help relieve a backlog of appeals in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, First Department. Other than The Legal Aid Society, OAD is New York City’s longest-standing institutional indigent defense office and its oldest provider of appellate representation to indigent persons convicted of felonies.

WHAT KIND OF WORK DO OAD ATTORNEYS DO?

OAD’s principal practice is representing indigent people convicted of felonies in Manhattan and The Bronx on their direct appeals. OAD lawyers regularly argue cases before the Appellate Division, First Department, an intermediate appellate court, as well as the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court. OAD attorneys also practice in state trial courts, representing clients in resentencing proceedings, post-conviction collateral proceedings, sex offender classification hearings, and matters relating to the imposition of post-release supervision. In addition, OAD attorneys assist many clients in their efforts to obtain work release or parole, to deal with immigration problems, or to gain admission into rehabilitation programs. In some cases, OAD brings habeas corpus petitions in federal court on behalf of clients who were unsuccessful in their direct appeals.

HOW DOES OAD GET A CASE?

OAD receives case assignments from the Appellate Division First Department, and, in some instances, from Supreme Court in New York (Manhattan) and Bronx counties. Because OAD is assigned counsel, it does not take cases upon request.

WHAT IS THE VOLUNTEER APPELLATE DEFENDER PROGRAM?

The Volunteer Appellate Defender Program offers opportunities for associates at private law firms to handle an appeal pro bono under OAD supervision. All volunteers participate in a comprehensive CLE-accredited training program and work closely with an OAD supervisor. More information about the VAD program can be found here.

WHAT IS THE REINVESTIGATION PROJECT?

Launched in 2007, the Reinvestigation Project focuses on cases where resource-intensive reinvestigation might establish that our clients were wrongfully convicted. The Project uses a screening system to identify cases that pose a high risk of wrongful conviction. Where potentially exculpatory evidence is uncovered through our reinvestigation, OAD lawyers move to reopen the case in trial court. In 2010, OAD was awarded a two-year grant by the U.S. Department of Justice to support and expand the scope of its reinvestigation work. To learn more about the Reinvestigation Project, click here.

WHAT IS THE SOCIAL WORK/RE-ENTRY PROGRAM?

Since 2001, OAD’s Social Work/Re-entry Program -- the first of its kind in the nation -- has provided assistance to our clients both while they are incarcerated, and as they begin the challenging work of re-entry after release. To learn more about this program, click here.

HOW DO I GET A JOB AT OAD?

OAD is devoted to attracting, training and maintaining a staff of lawyers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. The office attracts some of the most outstanding new lawyers in the nation, and many OAD staff attorneys have clerked for prominent judges in the federal or state courts. OAD also employs distinguished law graduates straight out of law school and lawyers with non-judicial post-graduate experience.

All new staff attorneys participate in a comprehensive training program, which focuses on appellate advocacy, client relations, procedural and substantive criminal law, and New York practice. As part of OAD’s unique training model, both a staff attorney and a supervisor read the entire record and the staff attorney receives intense supervision in all aspects of the case.

For more about working at OAD — including any non-legal openings — click here.