Posting: Mitigation Specialists -Hybrid- State Appellate Defender Office

April 12, 2023

Mitigation Specialists Hybrid (Remote/Office)


Join Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) as a full-time Mitigation Specialist to assist in legal representation of individuals sentenced to life without parole as youth. SADO represents clients throughout Michigan on appeal of their felony convictions. Salary will depend on experience and qualifications. The salary range is $50,383 to $76,817 with annual pay increases until the top of the range for satisfactory performance.

SADO’s Juvenile Lifer Unit advocates for individuals who are serving unconstitutionally cruel and unusual life without parole sentences for crimes they committed as youth and who are now entitled to resentencing proceedings and for an opportunity for release from incarceration. Mitigation Specialists are a crucial part of the defense team and work with attorneys and clients to develop strategies for new sentencing hearings. The Mitigation Specialist will perform a variety of functions with the end goal of helping to obtain release for our clients. These resentencing proceedings, which generally occur years, if not decades, after the conviction and original sentencing, require intensive long-term mitigation investigation, and culminate in complex resentencing hearings.

Mitigation Specialists draw from a diverse range of professional, academic, and life experiences to inform their work. Mitigation specialists must be empathetic communicators, effective interviewers, curious investigators, critical readers, data managers, creative writers, compassionate listeners, and zealous advocates. At SADO we are dedicated to building a multidisciplinary team with diverse perspectives and experiences, so if you are excited about this role but you do not meet every qualification in this job description, we encourage you to apply anyway. You may be the right candidate for the job.

Specific duties may include, but are not limited to:

  • Interview, and build rapport with incarcerated clients to learn about their background, the facts of the offense, current experiences while incarcerated, and specific needs upon release;
  • Identify, locate, and interview family, friends, community members, and other individuals to compile material in mitigation of sentence;
  • Obtain, analyze, and summarize records and documents, including prison records, social files, school records, and medical and mental health records;
  • Prepare reports, including client and witness interview memos, social history reports and sentencing memoranda;
  • Work with SADO's Project Reentry to help identify support for clients transitioning back into the community;
  • Network and collaborate with probation officers, Department of Corrections professionals, circuit courts, and social services organizations;
  • Identify and consult with appropriate experts to obtain reports and prepare for hearings;
  • Prepare clients for testifying in court or presenting allocution;
  • In limited circumstances, testify in court;
  • Train attorneys and staff on mitigation and parole hearings; and
  • Assist attorneys with general hearing preparation such as preparing exhibits, coordinating with witnesses and other necessary tasks.


  • Commitment to client-centered, zealous advocacy;
  • Commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of clients;
  • Commitment to cultural humility and cultural competency;
  • Education and/or experience in social work, social science, psychology, forensic psychology, journalism, anthropology, criminal justice, or a related field;
  • Knowledge of the criminal legal system, preferably in Michigan;
  • Experience in investigation;
  • Excellent communication, trauma-informed interviewing, and interpersonal skills;
  • Understanding of mental health signs and symptoms, the effects of trauma, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and the impacts of social, cultural, historical, political, religious, racial, environmental, and ethnic influences on behavior;
  • Ability to prioritize multiple client cases, deadlines, and demands;
  • Ability to work flexible hours, including evenings, nights, and early mornings, and to travel throughout the state to attend hearings, meet with incarcerated clients, interview witnesses, and obtain mitigation material;
  • Ability to organize, interpret, and synthesize large quantities of information into persuasive, compelling, and thorough written narratives
  • Flexible and creative thinking;
  • The ability to work as part of the defense team under the lead of the case attorney, and maintain confidentiality;
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Word and Outlook, Adobe Acrobat, Excel, and general office equipment; and
  • Self-motivated, with the ability to handle constructive feedback.

SADO offers training and mentoring and fosters an environment of success and support. With offices in Detroit and Lansing, SADO’s sixty-plus staff members form a community advocating for clients and a fair criminal legal system. Additionally, SADO provides the ability to work remotely. Visit to learn more.

Benefits Provided:

  • Medical, dental, vision, and life insurance
  • 401k plan with up to a 9% employer contribution
  • 13 paid holidays
  • 3 weeks of paid vacation in year one
  • Paid sick time and, for eligible employees, paid parental leave
  • Long-term disability insurance
  • Flexible work hours
  • Hybrid work environment (remote/office)
  • Paid training opportunities

SADO employees are members of the UAW Local 2200.

To Apply:

Submit a resume and a cover letter via email by May 7, 2023, to:

The cover letter should address the reasons underlying your interest in the work of the Juvenile Lifer Unit and explain your commitment to working with incarcerated people and people convicted of crimes.

SADO is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recognize people of color are disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system and actively seek to employ staff with backgrounds representative of its clients and the defense community. We strongly encourage people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ people, and people directly affected by the criminal legal system to apply. A felony conviction does not prohibit employment at SADO.

Apply now

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