Eligibility, Bar Membership,
Citizenship & Residency Requirements
Application Process | Interview, Selection and Offers of Employment
Security and Suitability (Background Investigation) | Salary and Benefits
You are eligible to apply for the Attorney General’s Honors Program this year if you are a law student who will graduate between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2013; or you are a joint degree law student who will complete all academic requirements for both degrees and graduate from both programs between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2013; or you are a law school graduate who preserved your eligibility by accepting or participating in a full-time judicial clerkship, a full-time qualifying legal fellowship, or a full-time graduate law program, and who meets other eligibility requirements. Presidential Management Fellows who meet certain requirements are also eligible. For a more detailed explanation, view the Honors Program Eligibility Requirements.
Not necessarily. Entry-level attorneys are required to pass a bar and be an active member of a bar (any U.S. jurisdiction) within 14 months of entry on duty. You must, therefore, attend a law school whose graduates are eligible to sit for a bar exam. If the state in which your law school is located allows only candidates from accredited law schools to sit for the bar exam, your law school must be accredited. If the state in which your law school is located (e.g., California) allows candidates from all law schools in that state to sit for the bar, accreditation is not required.
All Honors Program attorneys are required to pass a bar examination and be an active member of the bar (any U.S. jurisdiction) within 14 months of entry on duty. Only one 14-month Executive branch federal appointment pending bar admission can be approved. This can affect Honors Program attorneys who are hired for one-year clerkships (e.g., for an Immigration or Administrative Law judge) or for other time-limited Honors Program positions who then reapply to the Honors Program. It is not unusual for U.S. Attorneys' Offices (USAO) that hire Honors Program attorneys to require them to become admitted to the bar of the state in which the respective USAO is located.
Experienced attorneys must be an active member in good standing of a bar of any U.S. jurisdiction. In addition, USAOs frequently have specific residency and bar admission requirements. It is not unusual for USAOs to require Assistant U.S. Attorneys to be admitted to the bar of the state where the USAO is located.
The Honors Program currently accepts applications only from U.S. citizens and individuals who owe permanent allegiance to the United States (currently, natives of American Samoa, Swains Island, and certain inhabitants of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). Dual citizens of the United States and another country may apply. With respect to experienced attorneys, only U.S. citizens are eligible for positions with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the U.S. Trustee's Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Positions at U.S. Attorneys' Offices are restricted to U.S. citizens and individuals who owe permanent allegiance to the United States (currently, natives of American Samoa, Swains Island, and certain inhabitants of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.) Non-U.S. citizens may apply for employment with other Department components, but appointments are extremely rare; an appointment would be possible only if necessary to accomplish the Department's mission and would be subject to statutory restrictions on the expenditure of funds and strict security requirements. Dual citizens of the United States and another country are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Both Honors Program candidates and experienced attorneys are subject to a residency requirement. Candidates who have lived outside the United States for two of the past five years may have difficulty being approved for appointments by the Department Security Staff. The two-year period is cumulative, not necessarily consecutive. Federal or military employees, or dependents of federal or military employees serving overseas, are excepted from this requirement.
May I be considered simultaneously for both the Honors Program and the Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP)?
No. If you are eligible for one, you are not eligible for the other. Justice has, however, unified its Honors Program and SLIP applications into one system to permit limited transfers from the Honors Program applicant pool to the SLIP applicant pool. This affects recent law student graduates who are applying for judicial law clerkships, legal fellowships, or graduate law programs following law school graduation but who have not yet accepted a clerkship or been accepted into a graduate law program prior to the DOJ application deadline . Initially, those applicants will be considered through the Honors Program for an entry-level position following law school graduation.
If, after the September application deadline but before the Department finalizes its Honors Program and SLIP selections, an Honors Program applicant accepts a judicial clerkship, or is admitted to a graduate law program, then the online system will permit that applicant to re-access their application for the limited purpose of adding clerkship data (e.g., name of the court, name of the judge, start and end dates of the clerkship) or graduate law program data (e.g., the law school, type of degree program, start and end dates), and requesting transfer out of the Honors Program applicant pool and into the SLIP applicant pool. The hiring components will be notified of the change electronically.
If you are currently in law school, will graduate between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2013, and are applying for a judicial clerkship, legal fellowship, or full-time graduate law program following graduation, then you have two options. If you already have accepted a judicial clerkship, legal fellowship, or have been accepted into a full-time graduate law program, then you may apply for the Summer Law Intern Program for the summer of 2013 (between graduation and the start of your clerkship or graduate law program). If you have not yet accepted a clerkship or been accepted into a full-time graduate law program, then you should apply to the Honors Program. If your clerkship or graduate law study is finalized after the application deadline but before the Department finalizes its selections, then you can return to the online system and transfer your application from the Honors Program to the Summer Law Intern Program. For a more detailed explanation, view the Honors Program Eligibility Requirements.
The Department of Justice uses an online application that you can access electronically. We strongly recommend that you review the eligibility criteria before applying. Individuals with disabilities or special needs who need an accommodation may leave a voice mail message at (202) 514-1175 for assistance.
The application opens on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. The deadline for receipt of electronic applications is Tuesday, September 4, 2012 (midnight, Eastern time; 11:00 p.m. Central; 10:00 p.m. Mountain; 9:00 p.m. Pacific). Due to the volume of applications submitted just prior to the deadline, we encourage you to apply early, if possible, to avoid potential server problems. Please note that we will not accept any modifications or updates to your application once it is submitted.
Honors Program applicants who participated in the 2012 Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP) who anticipate that they may receive a funnel offer may want to consider deferring final certification and submission of their Honors Program application until later in the application period, but prior to the application deadline, so that they can list the issuing component as an employment preference. All SLIPs who accept a funnel offer MUST also apply to the Honors Program for continuity in management and tracking. We cannot accept applications after the deadline. We regret that we cannot make any exceptions.
Unless otherwise indicated, Honors Program positions are permanent if the attorney successfully passes the suitability and security review and meets bar membership requirements. Typically, positions as judicial law clerks and with fellowships are 1 to 3 years in duration. For example, the Executive Office for Immigration Review hires for positions in the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer and the Board of Immigration Appeals, located in Falls Church, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.), but also offers 1 to 2 year judicial clerkships in Immigration Courts around the country. The Drug Enforcement Administration offers 1-year judicial clerkships for its Administrative Law Judges. The Federal Bureau of Prisons hires Honors Program attorneys for 2-year fellowships for the central office in Washington, D.C., and nationwide consolidated legal centers. The Criminal Division Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Fellowship is a 3-year program. Some U.S. Attorneys’ Offices hire Honors Program attorneys for 1 to 2 year term appointments that can lead to permanent employment.
Component participation in the Honors Program may have some variation from year to year. View a list of participating components for the current Honors Program cycle and the estimated number of attorney positions they will fill.
Most of the Honors Program attorney positions are based in Washington D.C. Components that may hire for positions outside the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are the Antitrust Division, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the U.S. Trustees’ Offices, and the United States Attorneys’ Offices (USAOs).
The Antitrust Division hires Honors Program attorneys for its seven regional field offices and Washington, D.C. Applicants may indicate their geographic preferences on the application.
EOIR hires Honors Program attorneys for the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer and the Board of Immigration Appeals, both located in Falls Church, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.) and for positions in the Immigration Courts located nationwide. Applicants to EOIR may indicate their geographic preference on the application.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons hires Honors Program attorneys for the central office in Washington, D.C., consolidated legal centers located nationwide, or one of 99 penal institutions throughout the country.
The U.S. Trustees’ Offices hire Honors Program attorneys for positions in 95 regional/field offices located throughout the country, and, occasionally, for the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees in Washington, D.C., but does not identify specific vacancies. Candidates should discuss specific geographic assignment at the time of interview.
The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices that participate in the Honors Program hire for their respective districts, which may have branch offices in more than one city. For example, the USAO for the Central District of California includes the seven counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
You will only be considered by the components you identify on your application. Specifically, the application requires candidates to rank, in order of employment preference, up to three participating components you wish to consider your application. Some components are hiring for more than one location, or ask applicants to specify practice areas, or sections. If you designate one of these components as an employment preference, you have only used one of your three choices. Upon completion of the initial review, all eligible applications are automatically referred to the components they select. In addition, some hiring offices participate informally in the Honors Program. Applicants may opt to be considered by an informal participant by checking a box on the application. This does not count as one of the applicant’s three employment preferences.
We estimate that it will take most applicants at least an hour to complete and review their application. It may take another hour to gather the information necessary to complete the application. This estimate does not include the time it will likely take to respond to the two essay questions in the application. Applicants are encouraged to submit thoughtful essays that demonstrate strong writing ability, and a readiness and desire to work for Justice. Care in drafting the responses to the essay questions will take time. Prior to beginning the application, we recommend that you review the application checklist to ensure that you have the information you will need to complete the application.
Yes. Once you log onto the application, you create a user profile accessed by a unique password of your choice. Please be sure to create only one account and make a note of your password, as you will need it to access the application in the future. If you create multiple accounts, you may receive erroneous "status updates." You may enter and exit from the application an unlimited number of times. Prior to actually submitting your application, you may update or change your application provided you save your changes on the application program. You may print a blank application, a partially completed application, or your completed application. But once you certify your application and submit it, the program will not permit you to make further substantive changes.
We strongly recommend that you print a copy of your application and review it carefully prior to submission. Once you submit your application, the Department does not accept duplicate applications or later corrections to your application, other than updates to your contact information (e.g., address, telephone number, email address) or, in limited cases, acceptance of a judicial clerkship or admission in a graduate law program. We regret that we cannot make any exceptions.
There is no way to "attach" resumes or transcripts to the online Honors Program application. Instead, the application contains fields that prompt you to enter your resume and transcript data. We strongly recommend that you enter data by typing it in and using the spell check functions provided in the application. You may also enter data by "cutting and pasting" the information from an existing document provided it is in Microsoft Word or Word Perfect format; however, bullets, punctuation marks, symbols, and special characters may not translate when printed out at the receiving end, and may appear as computer code. The program will prompt you to review the appearance of your information. We recommend that you use hyphens to separate entries. We recommend that you avoid using bullets, symbols, or quotation marks to separate entries or create emphasis, as they may not transfer to the computer systems used within Justice. We cannot accept resumes and/or transcripts submitted separately from the online application at the time applications are submitted. Components that select candidates for interviews may require submission of a resume or transcript prior to the interview.
Once your application is submitted, you will receive an e-mail message confirming the Department’s receipt of your application using the e-mail address you designated in your submitted application. It is extremely important that you maintain the e-mail address you designate in the application throughout the hiring process, as the Department will use that address in future correspondence, including notification of selection or non-selection for interviews. Also, when you receive your email confirmation, we strongly recommend that you add it to your personal address book. This reduces the chance that future messages issued by the Department are not screened out by a spam or junk mail filter used by your school, internet provider, or security system.
To protect the integrity of the information you submit on your application, the system generally does not permit substantive changes once an application has been certified and submitted. Only contact information (e.g., e-mail address, telephone number, address) can be updated. There is a limited ability to update the application to add judicial clerkship or graduate law program information. We regret that we cannot make any exceptions.
No. The Department does not accept these documents as part of the Honors Program application. Please do not mail these documents to the Department separately. We process and review Honors Program applications electronically. If a component selects you for an Honors Program interview, you will be advised of the component's requirements regarding writing samples and other documents. You also may preview Honors Program the component interview requirements; however, only candidates actually notified of selection for an interview should comply with those instructions.
Experienced attorneys should follow the application instructions for the position for which they apply, and submit letters of recommendation, writing samples or cover letters as directed by each vacancy announcement.
Individual applicants may check on the status of their Honors Program applications through the Internet at www.avuedigitalservices.com/dojoarm/applicant.html Individual Honors Program applicants will be able to see the following status updates: notification of receipt of the application; notification of selection or non-selection for an interview; notification of selection or non-selection as a component finalist; and upon acceptance of an offer.
Following an eligibility review, applications are referred to all Justice components identified by the applicant. Each component selects its interview candidates independently. Final interview lists are based on the number of vacancies to be filled, and the amount of funding for interview travel.
Individuals are selected for the Honors Program on the basis of multiple factors, including academic achievement, writing skills and experience (e.g., law review), the ability to reason independently and creatively (e.g., moot court competition), clinical/volunteer and work experiences that relate to the specific work of the Department, and extracurricular activities that indicate a candidate's legal acumen. Successful applicants are those with well-rounded backgrounds illustrating academic achievement, intellectual and analytical thinking ability, and commitment to the work of Justice.
There are graduates from virtually all of the ABA-accredited law schools working at Justice. Graduates from non-accredited law schools are eligible for employment provided they are admitted to practice before the bar of any State or federal jurisdiction. View a list of law schools whose graduates were recently hired by Justice through the Honors Program.
The Department’s policy in excepted service career attorney hiring is to select the best qualified applicant for the position in terms of skills, background, knowledge, and relevant experience. Excepted service attorney positions within Justice are wholly exempted from the appointment procedures of 5 C.F.R. Part 302; however, Justice follows the principle of veterans’ preference in its attorney hiring procedures as far as administratively feasible and treats veterans’ preference eligibility as a positive factor at all stages in the hiring process. If you are a veteran and wish to contact someone in the Department’s Veterans Employment Program Office, contact Cortez Puryear or call (202) 514-0349.
Applicants who are selected for an interview will receive an electronic message to the e-mail address listed in their application. The message will include the names of the components that selected the candidate and will also provide guidance on interview requirements. Applicants may also check their status online using the User ID and password they created at the time they completed their application; but the online update may not list the selecting components. Please refer back to the e-mail message sent by the Department for details.
The Department will send an email message to applicants who are not selected for interview. Please note that this notification pertains only to those components that formally participate in the Honors Program. Some components, generally smaller offices, participate informally in the Honors Program. Due to late determination of vacancies or available funding, these components may offer interviews to individuals who previously were notified that they were not selected for an interview.
You should comply with the requirements specified by the interviewing component. These requirements, which may include electronic submission of specific types of writing samples prior to the interview, will be part of the initial notification issued by the Department. Preview the component interview requirements for more information.
Interviews will take place on work days in October and early November (see Key Dates). The Department does not interview on weekends or federal holidays. Most of the participating Justice components will conduct Honors Program interviews in Washington D.C., however, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and those components with field offices, such as the Antitrust Division and the Environment and Natural Resources Division, may offer interviews in other cities and on other dates.
There is some flexibility in scheduling the interview time and date; however, the Department may not be able to accommodate a request for a specific date. You will be able to list your preferred interview week and day on the travel survey you submit to schedule your interview. The Department tries to honor the dates you indicate as your preferences on the travel survey, but travel factors and the component's availability are the most critical considerations in scheduling. There are no interviews on weekends or federal holidays. Candidates scheduled for more than one interview should expect to travel to Washington, D.C. for a series of interviews by the components that selected them. Candidates selected by both a D.C.-based component and a U.S. Attorney’s Office or component’s field office may be asked to travel to two different locations for interviews. The Department will schedule interview travel through Government-contracted airlines, but seats are limited on individual flights. We recommend you list any absolute scheduling conflicts on the travel survey and, if necessary, contact the scheduler whose name will be provided to you to discuss available options if your final travel reservations are problematic.
Components independently determine who will conduct interviews and that information is not centrally maintained. Due to a large volume of interviews, and other mission requirements, scheduled interviewers are subject to change.
Justice has authorized payment of certain costs associated with pre-employment interview travel to Washington, D.C. Depending on a candidate's interview schedule, authorized reimbursements may include common carrier transportation fares (e.g., airfare or train fare) or reimbursable mileage, and a partial per diem allowance to defray the cost of lodging, meals, and incidental expenses if an overnight stay is authorized or travel extends beyond a certain number of hours.
The Department's policy is to schedule interviews so that an overnight stay is not required. But if an overnight stay is necessary, the Department will later reimburse you your lodging expense at a hotel up to the government rate ceiling for the applicable geographic area. Detailed information on the current per diem rates is located at www.gsa.gov under the “Travel Resources” “Per Diem” link. If traveling to Washington, D.C., we recommend that you stay at a hotel accessible by the Metro rail system. Entitlements to lodging and other expenses will be approved in advance on a case-by-case basis. Not all candidates will qualify for all authorized costs. Many candidates will not qualify for the partial per diem rate. The Department will provide specific information to individual candidates prior to interview travel.
Justice will reimburse applicants selected for interview some costs associated with their travel. View detailed information about reimbursable travel expenses to learn more.
Although there is no set time, we anticipate that most components will make first-round offers about two weeks after the end of formal interviews. The majority of the offers will be made from November 20th through December, but the process could extend into January and beyond.
The Department will notify all candidates who interviewed but were not selected to receive an offer by email, but the timing of this notice varies. Candidates may want to add email@example.com to their contact lists to ensure our notification messages are not misrouted to “spam” or “junk” folders. Components make decentralized hiring decisions and frequently issue offers sequentially based on their internal ranking of candidates and the number of positions available. The component may issue a certain number of offers, then, depending on acceptances, may issue a second round, and occasionally a third round of offers. OARM issues final notice of non-selection only after a component reports that it has met its hiring requirements. All notifications are issued electronically.
The Department adheres to the guidelines issued by the National Association of Law Placement regarding the time period that offers must remain open. We anticipate that offers to current law students will remain open for at least 28 days or until December 30, whichever comes first. Offers to current law students made after December 15 will remain open for at least two weeks after the date the offer was issued. Offers to law school graduates will remain open for at least two weeks after the date the offer was issued.
No. It is inappropriate to interview with the Department for an entry-level attorney position after accepting an offer of employment or a judicial clerkship. The Department hires for the upcoming year and does not defer hiring pending completion of a clerkship. Most law school graduates in their first eligibility preserving activity, however, remain eligible for the Honors Program and may reapply the following year. If it is your first clerkship or fellowship, you may request a transfer to be considered for the Summer Law Intern Program by re-entering your application and adding specific clerkship/fellowship information. It is possible for a law school graduate to preserve eligibility for the Honors Program for up to three years. Please visit HP Eligibility Requirements for details. Applicants who are admitted to a bar (any U.S. jurisdiction) and who graduated from law school at least one year earlier may apply to the Department as experienced attorneys at a later date.
The Department, like any other employer, relies on the hiring commitments it receives. We hope that candidates who accept an offer of employment will honor that commitment; however, if you find yourself in this situation, we recommend that you immediately notify the hiring component.
As a general rule, Justice will only defer entry on duty for exceptional circumstances, such as military service or unanticipated family or medical issues. All deferrals require prior written approval, in advance, from the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management and must be requested by the individual through the hiring component. Most Honors Program candidates who accept judicial clerkships remain eligible for the Honors Program the following year and should reapply at that time. For a more detailed explanation of the eligibility requirements for individuals in judicial clerkships, view the Honors Program Eligibility Requirements.
Both entry level and experienced attorney candidates who accept an offer of employment must undergo a “full field” background investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation may take seven months or more to complete and includes a name and fingerprint check, interviews with references, close personal associates, former spouses, former employers, co-workers, neighbors, landlords, and educational institutions, and a thorough check of credit, military, tax, and police records. Depending on the level of clearance required by the employing organization, the background investigation covers a period of seven to ten years of the candidate’s history. Most Honors Program attorneys start work within 3 to 4 months, on a temporary appointment pending completion and adjudication of their background investigation.
The most common suitability issues that arise during the background investigation are: past unlawful use of drugs, failure to fulfill tax obligations (including filing all tax returns even if you expect to receive a refund), failure to comply with financial obligations, failure to register for the selective service (male applicants only), and misrepresentations or omissions on the security form. After an applicant has received an offer of employment from the Department, the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management can advise the applicant as to any issues regarding potential suitability problems. In a few unfortunate cases, the Department has withdrawn offers of employment when the investigation process revealed information that precluded a security or suitability clearance.
It is the policy of the Department to achieve a drug-free workplace, and persons selected for employment will be required to pass a drug test to screen for current illegal drug use prior to entry on duty/start of employment.
The Department can withdraw an offer of employment if the investigation process reveals information that precludes a security and/or suitability clearance.
Entry-level attorney salaries may vary based on experience. View Attorney salary, promotion and benefits for more detailed information.
Generally, candidates with non-legal advanced degrees or prior federal service do not automatically qualify for a higher salary. If, however, a component determines that the advanced degree directly relates to your legal work, it might promote you more rapidly than it would have otherwise. On rare occasions, if the prior federal service has a direct and substantial relationship to the candidate's future legal duties, the hiring component may request an exception to policy to offer a higher salary. View Attorney salary, promotion and benefits for more detailed information.
Justice offers a wide range of benefits to its employees including paid holidays, generous vacation and leave, health care coverage and retirement benefits. View Attorney salary, promotion and benefits for more detailed information.
Yes. Justice currently offers an Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (ASLRP). The Department may repay up to $6,000 per year for qualifying attorneys up to a lifetime total of $60,000. The ASLRP selects new participants in the spring of each year. Entering Honors Program attorneys who can meet a 3-year service obligation may request consideration for the program prior to their arrival and, if selected, a payment will be issued on their behalf after entry on duty. For more detailed information, review the ASLRP policy, eligibility information, and procedures for requesting consideration.