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Legal Careers

Attorney Advisor

Hiring Organization
Office of the Pardon Attorney (Pardon)
Job ID
145 N Street NE, Suite 5E
Washington, DC 20530 - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), Office of the Pardon Attorney (PARDON) seeks to fill a vacant Attorney Advisor position.  For over 125 years, the President has requested and received the assistance of the Attorney General and his/her designees in the USDOJ in exercising clemency power regarding persons convicted for committing offenses against the United States.  PARDON is the component assigned to carry out this function under the direction of the Deputy Attorney General.  The long-standing role of USDOJ officials advising the President on clemency matters is reflected in various public record documents dating to the late 19th century.  Moreover, since at least 1898, presidents have adopted advisory rules to describe their programs for processing clemency applications and their directions to the Attorney General in carrying out the USDOJ’s clemency advisory functions.  PARDON receives petitions for executive clemency, initiates the necessary investigations, and prepares the recommendations to the Deputy Attorney General and the President in connection with the consideration of all forms of executive clemency, including commutation (reduction) of sentence, pardon, remission of fine and reprieve, as well as commutation of the penalty of death.

As the federal agency whose mission is to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans, the Department of Justice is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. To build and retain a workforce that reflects the diverse experiences and perspectives of the American people, we welcome applicants from the many communities, identities, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, abilities, religions, and cultures of the United States who share our commitment to public service.

Job Description

The Attorney Advisor will become familiar with all aspects of executive clemency.  Knowledge of and/or experience with federal or state criminal law (from either the prosecution or defense perspective, or both), sentencing policy and guidelines, re-entry, and related issues are all helpful for this position.  Applicants must demonstrate exceptional legal, analytical, policy, and writing skills, objectivity, and a high level of discernment.  In addition, applicants must possess the ability to manage and prioritize a sizable and growing workload while meeting deadlines under pressure. Applicants should also show flexibility in their responses to sudden priority shifts that may occur due to changing administration goals and objectives.  Applicants should also demonstrate compassion and the ability to make fair and balanced evaluations of written applications submitted by Federal petitioners. 

Attorney Advisor responsibilities include the performance of challenging and varied legal assignments in the interpretation and proper application of executive orders, federal regulations, precedents, and agency practices related to executive clemency.  Among other responsibilities, the Attorney Advisor will be assigned to review and evaluate the merits of clemency petitions in a fully automated electronic case management system, confer with officials of the USDOJ and external agencies regarding the performance of investigations, secure information and records related to the clemency petition and investigation, and advise the Pardon Attorney and Deputy Attorney General on the results of the investigative process and appropriate disposition of each petition.  Attorney advisors assigned to review pardon petitions will be expected to interact with pardon petitioners and their legal representation and to demonstrate a high level of commitment to professionalism, courtesy and public service.


Applicants must possess

  1. A J.D. degree
  2. Be an active member of the bar (any U.S. jurisdiction)
  3. Have a minimum of 3 years post-J.D. experience; and

Expertise in criminal law, from either the prosecutorial or defender perspective or both, as well as a thorough understanding and experience with sentencing law, are strongly preferred. Applicants who have worked with a felon population in other than a prosecutorial or defense capacity are also encouraged to apply. Applicants should demonstrate exceptional legal, analytical, policy, and writing skills, as well as the ability to manage and prioritize a sizable and growing workload and to meet deadlines under pressure.

Application Process

Applicants must apply through USAJobs vacancy announcement number (PARDON-21-11233794-ATTORNEY) located at weblink: USAJOBS - Job Announcement

Applicants must submit a resume, writing sample, and cover letter highlighting relevant experience, address the (3) mandatory requirements and specific criteria from the qualification section of this vacancy, as well as respond to each of the assessment questions.  

For more information about the Office of the Pardon Attorney, please visit our Web page at


GS-13/14 ($103,690 to $159,286 per year)

Occasional travel - You may be expected to travel for this position
Relocation Expenses
Relocation expenses will not be authorized

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Department Policies

Equal Employment Opportunity:  The U.S. Department of Justice is an Equal Opportunity/Reasonable Accommodation Employer.  Except where otherwise provided by law, there will be no discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex - including gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy status - or because of age (over 40), physical or mental disability, protected genetic information, parental status, marital status, political affiliation, or any other non-merit based factor.  The Department of Justice welcomes and encourages applications from persons with physical and mental disabilities. The Department is firmly committed to satisfying its affirmative obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to ensure that persons with disabilities have every opportunity to be hired and advanced on the basis of merit within the Department of Justice. For more information, please review our full EEO Statement.

Reasonable Accommodations:  This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency.  Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Outreach and Recruitment for Qualified Applicants with Disabilities:  The Department encourages qualified applicants with disabilities, including individuals with targeted/severe disabilities to apply in response to posted vacancy announcements.  Qualified applicants with targeted/severe disabilities may be eligible for direct hire, non-competitive appointment under Schedule A (5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u)) hiring authority.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact one of the Department’s Disability Points of Contact (DPOC) to express an interest in being considered for a position. See list of DPOCs.   

Suitability and Citizenship:  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 which screens for illegal drug use prior to final appointment.  Employment is also contingent upon the completion and satisfactory adjudication of a background investigation. Congress generally prohibits agencies from employing non-citizens within the United States, except for a few narrow exceptions as set forth in the annual Appropriations Act (see, Pursuant to DOJ component policies, only U.S. citizens are eligible for employment with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Trustee’s Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Unless otherwise indicated in a particular job advertisement, qualifying non-U.S. citizens meeting immigration and appropriations law criteria may apply for employment with other DOJ organizations. However, please be advised that the appointment of non-U.S. citizens is extremely rare; such appointments would be possible only if necessary to accomplish the Department's mission and would be subject to strict security requirements. Applicants who hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and another country will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All DOJ employees are subject to a residency requirement. Candidates must have lived in the United States for at least three of the past five years. The three-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. This is a Department security requirement which is waived only for extreme circumstances and handled on a case-by-case basis.

Veterans:  There is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Department of Justice considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans' preference must include that information in their cover letter or resume and attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation) to their submissions. Although the "point" system is not used, per se, applicants eligible to claim 10-point preference must submit Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and submit the supporting documentation required for the specific type of preference claimed (visit the OPM website, for a copy of SF 15, which lists the types of 10-point preferences and the required supporting document(s). Applicants should note that SF 15 requires supporting documentation associated with service- connected disabilities or receipt of nonservice-connected disability pensions to be dated 1991 or later except in the case of service members submitting official statements or retirement orders from a branch of the Armed Forces showing that their retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that they were transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).

USAO Residency Requirement:  Assistant United States Attorneys must reside in the district to which appointed or within 25 miles thereof.  See 28 U.S.C. 545 for district specific information.

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This and other vacancy announcements can be found under Attorney Vacancies and Volunteer Legal Internships. The Department of Justice cannot control further dissemination and/or posting of information contained in this vacancy announcement. Such posting and/or dissemination is not an endorsement by the Department of the organization or group disseminating and/or posting the information.

Updated September 14, 2021