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Legal Careers

Detail - Trial Attorney - Appellate Staff

Hiring Organization
Civil Division (CIV)
Hiring Office
Appellate Staff
Washington, DC 20004 - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The Appellate Staff represents the United States, its agencies, and officers in civil cases in the federal courts of appeals.  The Appellate Staff handles appeals involving all of the subject-matter areas litigated by the Civil Division, including appeals arising out of civil cases handled by the United States Attorneys nationwide.  Appellate Staff attorneys practice in all thirteen of the federal courts of appeals, as well as in the United States Supreme Court.  The Appellate Staff's portfolio includes many of the most difficult and controversial cases in which the Federal Government is involved.

Typical Appellate Staff cases include defending against constitutional challenges to Acts of Congress, Executive decisions, and national security programs; administrative challenges to agency rules and adjudications; tort claims against the United States; employment discrimination claims against the government; and claims against federal officers in their individual capacities for the alleged violation of a person’s constitutional rights (Bivens claims). 

In addition, the Appellate Staff represents the United States in certain types of affirmative litigation, such as consumer protection cases and False Claims Act suits to recover money fraudulently obtained from the U.S. treasury.  The Appellate Staff handles a wide variety of counter-terrorism and national security litigation, including challenges to enemy combatant detention and challenges to the designation of foreign terrorist organizations.  Finally, the Appellate Staff also represents Executive Branch interests in separation-of-powers litigation.

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 Civil Division is seeking an attorney to serve on a non-reimbursable detail to the Appellate Staff for a period of six months, renewable for a second six-month period by agreement between Civil Division and the originating agency or office.

Appellate Staff attorneys participate in every aspect of the appellate litigation process.  In addition to briefing and arguing cases before the federal courts of appeals, Staff attorneys prepare recommendations to the Solicitor General regarding whether to seek further review of decisions adverse to the government.  Appellate Staff attorneys also work closely with the Office of the Solicitor General to draft certiorari petitions, briefs in opposition, merits briefs, and other papers for filing in the Supreme Court on the United States’ behalf. 

The detailee will serve as Trial Attorney, personally briefing and arguing cases on behalf of the United States, federal agencies, and federal officials in the federal courts of appeals, as assigned; evaluating recommendations for appeal, rehearing, and certiorari in civil cases, and preparing appropriate recommendations to the Civil AAG and the Solicitor General; and assisting the Office of the Solicitor General in drafting Supreme Court filings on behalf of the United States in civil cases, as assigned.  


Applicants must have a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar (any U.S. jurisdiction), have at least three years of post-J.D. legal or other relevant experience, and be a current federal government employee.  Desirable qualifications include excellent written and oral communication, negotiation, interpersonal skills, and good judgment in handling complex issues.  Appellate litigation experience is strongly preferred. 

Application Process

Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample via email to Mark Freeman, Director, Appellate Staff, Civil Division, (note the “2”).  Prior to submitting your materials, you should have supervisory support for consideration of this detail.


Under a detail assignment, there is no change to the selectee's base pay. The position will be filled at the employee's current grade level.

Number of Positions
You may be expected to travel occasionally on this detail. Travel for Civil Division business will be at the expense of the Civil Division.
Relocation Expenses
Relocation expenses are not 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 November 8, 2019