Housing Justice Leadership Institute

Program Information and Application

The Housing Justice Leadership Institute (HJLI) at NYLS is a 10-day leadership, supervision, and management-skills training program for housing rights supervising attorneys in New York City. The program is now training its second cohort. Participants will receive CLE credit for attendance and a certificate from NYLS upon satisfactory completion of the program.

Foundational Principles

HJLI’s program is designed to help supervising attorneys develop the skills and strengths they need to lead, supervise, manage, and support delivery of the highest-quality legal assistance to tenants who face eviction from their homes. The program, rooted in a commitment to housing as a basic human right, will build supervisors’ capacities to help those they supervise recognize and address the racialized nature of housing exclusion, instability, and segregation. It will be based on an understanding that New York City’s right to counsel law is not an end in itself—but rather a vehicle to shift the balance of power in support of tenants’ rights: to protect against evictions, mitigate gentrification, preserve communities, and invest in the development of affordable housing. It will reinforce the critical role of lawyers in supporting a community-led housing justice movement, and building power and voice in community-based groups. And it will build the skills needed to manage program operations and supervise and support attorneys and paralegals in providing high-quality legal assistance that is effective in achieving these goals and consistent with these values.


The HJLI curriculum is largely based on the work of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and will include topics such as communicating with strategic intent; understanding systems and identifying strategic points of intervention; recognizing and addressing structural and other forms of racism; understanding the supervisory role; working effectively in and with low-income communities; developing effective supervisory systems; giving effective constructive feedback; supporting the development of writing skills; nurturing talent; understanding the uses and limitations of technology; developing authentic, reliable, and trustworthy leadership; managing from the middle; ensuring accountability; understanding situational supervision; working and supervising across difference; handling difficult conversations; managing and resolving conflict; understanding nonprofit finances and funding; developing and using metrics; dealing with contract-driven performance goals; addressing motivation and burn-out; planning and facilitating effective meetings; delegating successfully; preparing for and conducting effective performance reviews; developing work plans; time management; guiding ethical practice; integrating and supporting non-attorney staff; supporting professional development; supervising former peers; developing and strengthening individual renewal practices; and more.


NYLS faculty and the Shriver Center have developed the HJLI curriculum with the expert assistance of an advisory committee of leading members of New York City’s advocacy community. The program has been made possible with the financial support of the Robin Hood Foundation, the IOLA Fund of the State of New York, and the New York Community Trust, in collaboration with the City Bar Fund, Inc., and in cooperation with the Office of Civil Justice, New York City Human Resources Administration.

Applicant Qualifications and Application Process

The HJLI will select 20 to 25 candidates for the fall 2019 program. The program will be repeated again twice each year for at least the following two years. Candidates must be housing supervisors in nonprofit legal services organizations in New York City who have less than five years of supervisory experience.

Preference will be given to candidates who are working in legal services organizations that are participating in New York City’s right to counsel program for low-income tenants facing eviction. When applying, candidates must have the support of their legal services organizations and a commitment from their organizations to release them from a sufficient amount of work obligations to participate actively in the training program.

Candidates must commit to remain in their current positions for at least two years after completion of the training program. They must also commit to attend all sessions of the training program. Those who attend all of the sessions will receive a certificate of completion.

The selection decisions will emphasize diversity in the trainee cohort, including representation from different boroughs and different legal services organizations, as well as diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ identity, age, ability, and other factors. Applications must be submitted by July 15, 2019; selections will be made soon thereafter.


The program will be held at NYLS in lower Manhattan and will run on a total of 10 intermittent days, mostly Fridays and some Thursdays, through December 6, 2019. Participants may need to spend some additional time on program work between sessions.

The dates for the fall 2019 program are

  • Sessions 1-2: Thursday, September 5 and Friday, September 6
  • Sessions 3-4: Thursday, September 19 and Friday, September 20
  • Session 5: Friday, October 18
  • Session 6: Friday, November 1
  • Sessions 7-8: Thursday, November 14 and Friday, November 15
  • Sessions 9-10: Thursday, December 5 and Friday, December 6


“HJLI has been an incredible experience, allowing me to learn skills that are essential to my job alongside people who are having struggles similar to my own.”

“HJLI provided me with an invaluable opportunity to focus on my own personal growth as a supervisor and gave me great tools to utilize in my role.”

“The instructors were incredibly knowledgeable and inspirational, as were my fellow HJLI participants. Being able to talk through challenging situations involving supervisees with other housing supervisors who have had similar experiences was invaluable, and my experience at the HJLI has helped me renew my commitment to the housing justice movement.”

Housing Justice Leadership Institute: Professors Andrew Scherer and Kim Hawkins, Housing Justice Leadership Institute at NYLS, Co-Directors; Ellen Hemley, Sargent Shriver Center for Poverty Law, Chief Consultant; Jarienn James ’17, Racial Justice Fellow at NYLS, Program Administrator; Advisory Committee: Professor Paris Baldacci, Cardozo Law School, Emeritus; Professor Carol Buckler, NYLS; Helder Coehlo, City Bar Justice Center; Marika Dias, Legal Services NYC; Jonathan Fox, New York Legal Assistance Group; Leah Goodridge, Mobilization for Justice; Amy Hammersmith, NOLSW, United Auto Workers; Ignacio Jaurequilorda, Center for Court Innovation; Doreen Odom, Legal Services NYC; Runa Rajagopal, The Bronx Defenders; Kerri-Ann Wright, Legal Aid Society