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Legal Careers

Attorney Advisor

Hiring Organization
Office of the Pardon Attorney (Pardon)
Hiring Office
Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA)
Job ID
OPA 16-003 (NOTE: those who applied to OPA 15-006 or 16-002 who wish to be considered need not re-apply)
145 N Street N.E., Suite 5E.508
Washington, DC 20530 - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA), United States Department of Justice, is seeking additional Attorney Advisors to work in Washington, DC. The Office of the Pardon Attorney, in consultation with the Attorney General or her designee, assists the President in the exercise of executive clemency as authorized under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution.  OPA 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.  The two primary forms of clemency relief are commutations of sentence and pardons.  A commutation of sentence reduces the period of a petitioner's incarceration and does not imply forgiveness of the underlying offense.  A pardon is an expression of forgiveness for past crimes, and is generally granted based on a petitioner's demonstrated good conduct for a substantial period of time after conviction and service of the sentence.  
In 2014, the Justice Department announced a new clemency initiative to encourage appropriate candidates to petition for executive clemency in order to have their sentences commuted by the President.  The Initiative invites petitions for commutation of sentence from non-violent inmates who are serving a federal sentence, who by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense today, and who would not pose a threat to public safety if released.  Thousands of inmates have already filed petitions for commutation of sentence, and more are likely to do so.  Evaluating these petitions for recommendations to the President is a high priority for the Justice Department.

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, including both clemency initiative and non-clemency initiative commutation cases as well as pardons.  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 and to meet deadlines under pressure.  Applicants should also demonstrate compassion and the ability to make fair and balanced evaluations of written applications submitted by 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 petitions submitted by applicants for executive clemency, to confer with officials of the Department of Justice and external agencies regarding the performance of investigations related to clemency petitions, to secure information related to the clemency petition and investigation, and to advise the Pardon Attorney and Deputy Pardon Attorney on the results of the investigative process and appropriate disposition of petitions.  Attorney advisors assigned to review pardon applications will be expected to interact with pardon applicants and their representation and to demonstrate a high level of commitment to professionalism and courtesy in these interactions.


This advertisement is open to ALL SOURCES.
Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be licensed to practice law and an active member of the bar of a state jurisdiction or the District of Columbia, and have a minimum of 3 years post-J.D. experience.  Familiarity with or experience in criminal law, from either the prosecutorial or defender perspective or both, as well as a thorough understanding and experience with sentencing law, are a plus, but not required.  Applicants must demonstrate exceptional legal, analytical, policy, and writing skills, as well as the ability to manage and prioritize a sizable and growing workload, to meet deadlines under pressure, and to respond promptly to members of the public, applicants, and applicants' counsels.

Application Process

Applications received after the deadline or without following each of the below instructions will not be considered.
Applicants must submit a cover letter (highlighting relevant experience) and a resume.  Please reference announcement OPA 16-003 in the subject line of your email as well as the subject line of your cover letter.  Please also indicate in both your email and cover letter what GS grade you would like to be considered for and clearly indicate any veterans preference.  Please be sure to indicate the scale, grade and salary for each federal position listed on your resume.  Applications must be received by no later than 11:59PM EST on Wednesday, January 13, 2016.  
Applicants are encouraged to email applications to or fax them to 202-616-6069 rather than postal mail.  No telephone calls please.
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Pardon Attorney (Attn: Will Taylor, Executive Officer)
145 N Street N.E., Suite 5E.508
Washington, D.C. 20530
For more information about OPA, please visit our web page at: . This and selected other legal position announcements may be found on the Internet at: and


Vacancies will be filled at the GS-13/14 level. Current salary and years of experience will determine the appropriate salary level. The salary range for this position is GS-13 ($92,145 - $119,794) to GS-14 ($108,887 - $141,555).

Number of Positions
Limited travel may be required occasionally.
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 April 7, 2016