Honors Program Frequently Asked Questions

Entry-Level Attorneys

Honors Program Frequently Asked Questions


Eligibility, Credentials, Bar Admission, and Citizenship

1. Who is eligible for the Honors Program?

Detailed information about eligibility is available on the OARM Honors Program web page. As a quick summary, you are eligible to apply this year if you are a law student who will graduate between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011; 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, 2010 and September 30, 2011; or you are a full-time graduate law student (who began your studies immediately following law school) in the last year of study in the fall of 2010; or you are a judicial law clerk (any U.S. jurisdiction) who will complete your clerkship after October 1, 2010 but before December 31, 2011. Presidential Management Fellows or other legal fellows who meet certain requirements are also eligible. If you currently are a judicial law clerk, or have served more than one judicial clerkship, or have both served a judicial clerkship (any U.S. jurisdiction) and earned a graduate law degree, are a Presidential Management Fellow, or are serving in a legal fellowship, please select the highlighted link to review additional requirements specified in the detailed eligibility information.

2. What are the bar admission requirements?

All Honors Program attorneys are required to pass a bar examination and be active members 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 (i.e., for an Immigration or Administrative Law judge) 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 USAO is located.

3. What qualifications does the Department look for in a candidate?

Candidates are selected 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. The best candidates are those with well-rounded backgrounds, illustrating academic achievement, intellectual and analytical thinking, and commitment to the work of the Department.

4. Does the Department hire non-United States citizens as attorneys?

The Department coordinates with the U.S. Department of State each summer to identify the countries whose citizens may lawfully be employed by a U.S. federal agency. Applications from non-U.S. citizens who are citizens of a country approved by the State Department are referred to the hiring components for consideration subject to the exceptions listed below, but appointments as an attorney are extremely rare. An appointment would be possible only if necessary to accomplish the Department’s mission and would be subject to legal restrictions on the expenditure of funds and strict security requirements. Only U.S. citizens are eligible for employment with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the U.S. Trustee’s Offices, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Attorneys Offices. The following components do not consider non-U.S. citizens: the Antitrust Division, the Civil Division, the Criminal Division, the National Security Division, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the U.S. Trustee’s Offices, the Tax Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Attorneys Offices. Dual citizens of the United States and another country are considered on a case-by-case basis.

5. Does the Department hire students from my law school?

There are graduates from virtually all of the ABA-accredited law schools working at the Department. 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. Click here to view a list of law schools whose graduates are attorneys employed by the Department of Justice. Click here to view a list of law schools whose graduates were hired through the 2009-2010 Attorney General's Honors Program.

6. Must my law school be accredited for me to work at the Department?

Not necessarily. Entry-level attorneys are required to pass a bar and be an active member of a bar (any 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.

7. May I be considered for both the Honors Program and the Summer Law Intern Program simultaneously?

No. If you are eligible for one, you are not eligible for the other. However, the Department has unified its applications into one system to permit limited transfers from the Honors Program applicant pool to the Summer Program. This change affects third-year law students who are applying for judicial law clerkships 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 (and applicants to full-time graduate law programs who have not yet been accepted). Initially, those applicants will be considered through the Honors Program for an entry-level position following law school graduation.

If, after the September DOJ application deadline but before the Department finalizes its selections, the applicant accepts a judicial clerkship (or is admitted to a graduate law program), then the system will permit that applicant to re-access his or her 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 Summer Program pool. The components will be notified of the change electronically.

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How to Apply

1. Where can I find an application?

The Department of Justice uses an online application that you can access electronically from the Honors Program site on this web page. 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) 514-3397.

2. When is the application available and what is the submission deadline?

This year’s application opens on July 26, 2010. The deadline for receipt of electronic applications is Tuesday, September 7, 2010 (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. Please note that we cannot add information to your application if you omitted it or received new information after submission (e.g., were selected for Law Review) or correct mistakes. Honors Program applicants who participated in the 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.

3. How long does it take to complete the online application?

We estimate that it will take most applicants about an hour to complete and review their application. It may take another hour to gather the information necessary to complete the application. We recommend that you review the application checklist on the main Honors Program page to ensure that you have the information that you will need to complete the application.

4. May I partially complete the application, and return to it at a later time?

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. However, 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. Pay careful attention to the dates you enter, especially the year of law school graduation - we find that many candidates erroneously enter the current year rather than the year of expected law school graduation. 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 into a graduate law program. We regret that we cannot make any exceptions.

5. How do I submit my resume and my transcript through the online application?

There is no way to "attach" resumes or transcripts to the online 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, some punctuation marks, symbols, and special characters do not translate well when printed out at the receiving end - they may appear as computer code. The program will later assemble your resume and transcribe data into a standard format. 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 the Department. 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.

6. How will I know the Department received my application?

Once your application is received, the system will send you an e-mail message confirming receipt of your application using the e-mail address you designated in the 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.

7. Can I modify, update, or correct my application once it is submitted?

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. As discussed above in item A.6, there is a limited ability to update the application to add judicial clerkship or graduate law program information.

8. Should I submit letters of recommendation, writing samples, or a cover letter with my application?

No. The Department does not accept these documents as part of the application. Do not mail these documents to the Department separately. We process and review applications electronically. If a component selects you for an interview, you will be advised where to find the component's requirements regarding writing samples and other documents. You also may preview the component interview requirements on this web site; however, only candidates actually notified of selection for an interview should comply with those instructions.

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Impact of Applying for Judicial Clerkships and Graduate Law Program

1. What opportunities are available to me now if I am in my last year of law school and plan to enter a judicial clerkship or graduate law program (i.e., L.LM) following law school?

If you are currently in law school, will graduate between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011, and are applying for a judicial clerkship or full-time graduate law program following graduation, then you have two options. If you already have accepted a judicial clerkship or been accepted into a full-time graduate law program, then you may apply for the Summer Law Intern Program for the summer of 2011 (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.

2. Will the Department defer my entry on duty if I accept a clerkship or fellowship after accepting an Honors Program offer?

The Department 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 OARM and must be requested by the individual through the hiring component. Deferrals create additional costs associated with the background investigation process. In addition, some judges construe acceptance of an offer of employment prior to or while serving in a judicial clerkship a conflict of interest. Most Honors Program candidates who accept judicial clerkships remain eligible for the Honors Program the following year and should reapply at that time. For additional information, see Paragraph J, Withdrawals and Deferrals, below.

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The Selection, Interview, and Offer Process

1. How does the Department select candidates for interviews?

Following an eligibility review, applications are referred to all Department components listed 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.

2. How and when will I be notified if I am selected for an interview?

The Department, through its contractor (Avue Digital Services), will send an electronic message to candidates selected for interviews using the e-mail address listed in the application. The message will include the names of the components that selected the candidate and will provide guidance on interview requirements. Applicants may also check their status online using the User ID and password they created at the time they applied, however, the online update may not list the selecting components. Please refer back to the e-mail message sent by the Department through its contractor, Avue Digital Services, for details.

  • Interview Scheduling: All interviews (except Antitrust field office interviews) are centrally scheduled, including those for candidates who reside in the local commuting area. The Notification e-mail will provide instructions on how to schedule interviews. Interview candidates must complete a Travel Survey and fax it to Department's schedulers. The Travel Survey requests candidates to list their week and day of preference. To the extent possible, the Department will attempt to honor that request; however, scheduling limitations do not always allow us to honor each request. The interview lists are reconciled within the Department several times to ensure that all candidates have responded. Please do not contact OARM to inquire if your fax was received - the schedulers are located in a separate building and staffing limitations do not permit us to respond to each inquiry. For additional details on the Interview Process, review the Travel Memo when notified of selection for an interview.
  • Antitrust field office interviews will be separately scheduled by the Antitrust Division. Candidates selected by those offices will be notified by OARM, but the Antitrust Division will schedule those interviews.

3. Will I be notified if I am not selected for an interview?

The Department will send an email message to applicants who are not selected for an 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.

4. What should I bring to the 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. You may preview component interview requirements on this web site. We recommend that candidates bring an updated copy of their resume and a copy of the writing sample previously submitted, if one was required.

5. When and where will the Department conduct interviews?

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 Department's 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) as well. The Department will pay some costs of pre-employment interview travel to Washington D.C. See "Does the Department pay for interview travel?" or the Travel Memo for more information.

6. Do I have a choice of interview location, time, or date?

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 (e.g., commercial air or rail) and the component's availability are the most critical components of 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 USAO or 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 (name will be provided to you) to discuss available options if your final travel reservations are problematic.

7. Can I find out who my interviewer will be?

Components independently determine who will conduct interviews. Due to a large volume of interviews, and other mission requirements, scheduled interviewers are subject to change. There is no way to determine exactly who will conduct your interview in advance at our level. We recommend that you request a business card from your interviewer(s) at the time of interview.

8. Does the Department pay for interview travel?
The Department 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 will charge most transportation costs (e.g., airfare) to a central fund, thus minimizing "out-of-pocket" costs to candidates.

The Department's policy is to schedule interviews so that an overnight stay is not required. However, if an overnight stay is necessary, the Department will later reimburse you lodging at a hotel up to the government rate ceiling for the 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. Entitlements 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.

9. Where can I find information about reimbursable interview travel expenses?

You can find detailed information about reimbursable travel expenses in the Travel Memo located on this web site under the Honors Program "Interviews" link.

10. When are offers made?

There is no set time, but 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 from November 22nd through December, but the process could extend into January and beyond.

11. Will I be notified if, after interviewing, I will not receive an offer?

The Department will notify all candidates who interviewed but were not selected to receive an offer, but the timing of this notice varies. 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.

12. If I receive an offer, how much time do I have to respond?

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 will remain open for at least 28 days or until December 30, whichever comes first.  Offers made after December 15 will remain open for at least two weeks after the date the offer was issued.

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Requesting Reimbursement for Interview Travel Costs

For details about reimbursable expenses, please review the travel memo.

1. What costs are reimbursable?

Candidates who are in a travel status in excess of 12 hours are eligible to request a pro-rated per diem allowance to cover costs of meals and other incidental expenses, subject to the rates specified in the Federal Travel Regulations. See www.gsa.gov for current per diem amounts. Reimbursement payments are not automatic – you should submit a reimbursement request within 5 business days after your interview using a specific reimbursement form.

2. What do I do to request reimbursement?

The Department asks Honors Program candidates to submit a reimbursement request form, by fax, within 5 business days of their travel. Please see the travel memo for details.

3. What documentation do I need?

You will be asked to submit a copy of your travel authorization, your ticket, and original receipts for lodging and any expenses totaling $75 or more.

4. Is there a time limit for requesting reimbursement?

Yes. The Department closes out its books at the end of each fiscal year (September 30th). The longer you wait after travel to request reimbursement, the longer it takes to find the correct documentation and process your payment. It is sometimes possible to request reimbursement after the end of the fiscal year, but it becomes increasingly difficult. No requests submitted after two years will be processed. As part of the process, the Department mails you a form it prepares based on your faxed request. Please ensure that the form lists your current mailing address. If a treasury check is mailed to an incorrect address, the Department must first track down the missing check before it can issue a second one.

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Information on the Status of Your Application

1. How can I get information about the status of my application?

Individual applicants may check on the status of their applications through the Internet at www.avuedigitalservices.com/dojoarm/applicant.html.

2. When does the Department release status updates to the online system?

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.

3. How and when will the Department notify me if I am selected for an interview?

The Department will send an electronic message to candidates selected for interviews using the e-mail address listed in the application. The message will include the names of the components that selected the candidate and will provide guidance on how to schedule an interview. The Department is tentatively scheduled to select interview candidates by late mid-September and will anticipates that it will notify candidates and post status changes by September 30, 2010 (subject to mission requirements).

4. How and when will the Department notify me if I am not selected for an interview?

The Department will send an email message to applicants who are not selected for an 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.

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Conditions of Employment

(including Background Investigation, Promotion, Drug Tests, Veterans’ Preference Eligibility, Withdrawal of An Offer, Start Dates, and Travel Requirements)

1. Are all of the positions for permanent employment?

With the exception of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), certain U.S. Attorney's Offices, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrative Law Judges, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), all Honors Program positions are permanent if the attorney successfully passes the suitability and security review and meets bar membership requirements. (Information about the suitability and security review is available on this web site under Conditions of Employment on the Honors Program index.) EOIR offers 1 to 2 year judicial clerkships in the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer and the Board of Immigration Appeals, located in Falls Church, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.). EOIR also hires Honors Program applicants for one-year clerkships in Immigration Courts located nationwide. The BOP hires Honors Program attorneys for two-year fellowships for the central office in Washington, D.C., and consolidated legal centers located nationwide. Some U.S. Attorney's Offices hire Honors Program attorneys for two-year term appointments that can lead to permanent employment. The DEA offers one-year judicial clerkships for its administrative law judges.

2. What is the Department's promotion policy?

Detailed information is available on this web site under Salaries, Promotions, and Benefits on the Honors Program index.

3. What kind of background investigation is required? How long does it take?

The "full field" background investigation for attorneys takes at least six months to complete; it depends upon the information that is provided in the pre-employment forms submitted by the candidate. For example, if a candidate has lived in five places over a seven year period, it takes longer to complete the investigation than if a person has lived in one place during the same period of time. Depending on the level of clearance required by the employing organization, the investigation covers from seven to ten years of the candidate's history. Additional information is available on this web site under the title Conditions of Employment on the Honors Program index.

4. What types of problematic issues arise during a background investigation?

The most common suitability issues that arise are: past unlawful use of drugs, failure to fulfill tax obligations, failure to comply with financial obligations, and misrepresentations or omissions on the security form. After an applicant has received an offer of employment from the Department, OARM can advise him/her 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.

5. Drug testing.

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 final appointment.

6. Withdrawals of offers of employment.

The Department can withdraw an offer of employment if the investigation process reveals information that precludes a security and/or suitability clearance. Common problems that arise in background investigations that may result in the withdrawal of an offer include a history of unlawful use of drugs, failure to fulfill tax obligations, failure to comply with financial obligations, abuse of alcohol, or misrepresentation on the security forms. The Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) can advise candidates who receive offers of employment on issues regarding potential suitability problems. Information on who to contact is included in the formal offer and security packet issued by OARM.

7. Does the Department apply veterans’ preference eligibility to Honors Program hiring?

The Department of Justice treats veterans’ preference eligibility as a positive factor at all stages in attorney hiring. For details, please review the Veterans’ Preference information in Conditions of Employment.

8. Are there other issues that impact on Honors Program hiring?

Yes. Honors Program candidates 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's Security Staff. (Federal or military employees serving overseas, or dependents of federal or military employees serving overseas are excepted from this requirement.)

9. When do Honors Program attorneys start work?

Honors Program attorneys are eligible to begin work any time after law school graduation and the favorable adjudication of their background investigation. Each organization, however, determines its own best time frame for candidates to enter on duty. Many attorneys begin work around October 1st (the beginning of the new fiscal year) following graduation. Candidates may delay their entry on duty until the December following graduation if the hiring organization agrees to this delay.

10. How much travel is required?

The amount of travel required, if any, depends on the particular component where you are employed and the nature of its practice. Attorneys hired by the litigating components, whose attorneys often conduct depositions, lead grand jury investigations, and/or appear before federal courts across the country, can expect a moderate to heavy travel schedule. Other components may require little or no travel.

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Salaries and Benefits

1. What are the salaries for entering attorneys?

Detailed information is available on this web site under the title Salaries, Promotions, and Benefits on the Opportunities for Attorneys index.

2. Do non-legal advanced degrees (Masters, Doctors) or prior federal service make a candidate eligible for a higher salary?

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.

3. What benefits and services are available at the Department?

Detailed information is available on this web site under the title Salaries, Promotions, and Benefits on the Opportunities for Attorneys index.

4. Is there a student loan repayment program?

An Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (ASLRP) began in the spring of 2003. The Department may repay up to $6,000 per year for qualifying attorneys up to a lifetime total of $60,000. The Program 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. The Department policy, eligibility information, and procedures for requesting consideration are available on the main OARM web page (www.usdoj.gov/oarm) under Resources and Other Programs.

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Information about the Hiring Components

1. Which Department components participate in the Honors Program and how many attorneys will they hire this year?

A list of participating components and the estimated number of vacancies is available on this web site under the Honors Program index. Information about the duties and responsibilities of various Department components is available on this web site under the title Components of the U.S. Department of Justice.

2. How many Department components will consider my application?

The application requires you to rank, in order of your employment preference, up to three participating components you wish to consider your application.  Some components are hiring for more than one location, or ask you 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 that you select.

3. What components hire outside the Washington, D.C. area?

Components that may hire entry-level attorneys for positions outside the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are the Antitrust Division, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the U.S. Trustees' Offices, and the United States Attorneys Offices. All other components hire attorneys under the Honors Program for Washington, D.C. only.

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 be asked to state geographic preferences at the time of interview.

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.

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 cannot identify specific vacancies. Candidates should discuss specific geographic assignment at the time of interview.

The United States 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 United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California includes the seven counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The OARM website (Participating Components) and the application will list the cities that a participating USAO is hiring for. Candidates should discuss geographic assignment during the interview.

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Withdrawals and Deferrals

1. What should I do if I receive an offer for a judicial clerkship, a fellowship, or other employment prior to my interview?

The answer depends on whether you must respond to the offer prior to your interview with the Department. If you accept an offer prior to your interview, then you must withdraw from the Honors Program interview with the Department of Justice. There is no impediment to continuing in the interview process with the Department if the offer is simply "on the table" and you are sincerely interested in an entry-level position with the Department for the following year. However, the Department does not, as a rule, defer a position for the purpose of accepting a clerkship. That is because most judicial clerks remain eligible to reapply for the Honors Program the following year. You may wish to discuss the Department's offer timeline with the hiring component at the time of your interview, especially if you must respond to the earlier offer by a specific date.

2. May I still interview with the Department if I accept an offer of employment, a fellowship, or a judicial clerkship prior to my interview?

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. That is because most law clerks remain eligible for the Honors Program and may reapply the following year. If it is your first clerkship, you may request a transfer to be considered for the Summer Law Intern Program by re-entering your application and adding specific clerkship information. Judicial law clerks remain eligible to apply to the Honors Program beyond law school graduation and may resubmit their applications the following year. Applicants with prior substantive legal employment may apply to the Department as experienced attorneys at a later date.

3. What should I do if I receive an offer of a judicial clerkship or fellowship after I receive an offer from the Department?

It depends on the timing of the offers. In most cases, candidates have sufficient time to weigh their options and make a decision that is appropriate for their future career goals. If you have not yet responded to the Department, your options are completely open. Remember to check the eligibility guidelines: in most cases you are eligible to re-apply to the Honors Program the following year for employment beginning after you complete your clerkship or fellowship.

4. What are my options if I have accepted an offer from the Department before I receive an offer for a judicial clerkship or fellowship?

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. Please note that the Department does not generally grant deferrals based on acceptance of a judicial clerkship, as applicants remain eligible and may reapply the following year.

5. When will the Department grant a deferral?

The Department will only defer entry on duty for exceptional circumstances, such as activation for military service or unanticipated family or medical issues. All deferrals require prior written approval, in advance, from OARM and must be requested by the individual through the hiring component. Deferrals create additional costs associated with the background investigation process. In addition, some judges construe acceptance of an offer of employment prior to or while serving in a judicial clerkship a conflict of interest. Most Honors Program candidates who accept judicial clerkships remain eligible for the Honors Program the following year and should reapply at that time.

6. For the 2010-2011 Honors Program, would the Department defer entry on duty beyond December 2011?

In exceptionally rare circumstances (e.g., military deployment) and only on a case-by-case basis, the Department may agree to defer entry on duty beyond the normal accession period.

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Student Loan Repayment Program

1. Can Honors Program attorneys participate in the Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program?

All Department of Justice attorneys, including incoming hires, may request consideration in the Attorney Student Loan Repayment program. Please visit the Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program page on this web site for detailed information.

2. How and when must I request consideration?

The application deadline is late April or early May each year. The Department reviews new applicants and makes selections in June. Incoming attorneys who have not yet entered on duty may be selected, but no payment can be issued until after they become Department employees.

 

Updated September 21, 2017

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