Trial Attorney

The Appellate Section
Washington, DC 20005
United States
About the Office: 

The Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is seeking experienced attorneys to fill two (2) Trial Attorney positions in the Division's Appellate Section in Washington, D.C. The Appellate Section plays a crucial role in defending the integrity and constitutionality of the Department's investigations and prosecutions. Attorneys in the Appellate Section write briefs and argue cases in the courts of appeals; prepare draft briefs and certiorari petitions for the Solicitor General (SG) for filing in the U.S. Supreme Court; make recommendations to the SG regarding whether further review is warranted when adverse decisions have been rendered in the district courts and courts of appeals; and brief and argue motions in district courts in cases of national importance.

Job Description: 

The Trial Attorney:

  •  Handles criminal cases in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, including briefing and oral arguments. Cases include those prosecuted by U.S. Attorney's Offices and other litigating sections in the Criminal Division.
  •  Drafts briefs in merits cases before the Supreme Court, either as a party or an amicus, for the SG's Office. This includes attending moot courts and oral arguments with attorneys from the SG's Office.
  • Writes memoranda recommending whether to seek further review of adverse decisions in criminal cases.
  • Drafts briefs for the SG's Office in opposition to certiorari petitions in the Supreme Court.
  • Prepares and argues pleadings in significant district court cases.
  • Provides advice to Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) on a variety of substantive, contentious, and complex issues.

Required Qualifications: Interested applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be duly licensed and authorized to practice as an attorney under the laws of any State, territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, and have at least 1.5 years of post J.D. experience. Service as a judicial law clerk counts as relevant experience, but is not required.

Applicants must be an active member of the bar in good standing.

GS-13: 1.5 years of post J.D. legal experience, including one year of specialized experience. Examples of specialized experience include: preparing pleadings, briefs, motions, and other legal documents related to civil or criminal litigation.

GS-14: 2.5 years of post J.D. legal experience, including one year of specialized experience. Examples of specialized experience include: preparing pleadings, briefs, motions, affidavits, and other materials involving legal issues in civil or criminal litigation; conducting civil or criminal litigation (including appeals); analyzing cases for legal sufficiency; and providing expert legal advice and consultation.

GS-15: 4 years of post J.D. legal experience, including one year of specialized experience. Examples of specialized experience include: preparing court papers and materials, presentations, and other written material involving or addressing unique or difficult legal issues in civil or criminal litigation; conducting complex civil or criminal litigation (including appeals); analyzing cases for legal sufficiency; and providing expert, specialized advice and consultation.

Preferred Qualifications: Your qualifications will be further evaluated based upon the following competencies.

  • Ability to communicate clearly through well-organized and accurately written documents.
  • Ability to perform cogent and correct legal analysis on a variety of contentious and complex substantive issues.
  • Ability to provide legal advice to others.
  • Ability to manage a heavy legal case load.
  • Ability to argue persuasively in court.
The salary range for this position is $90,823 - $158,700 per annum, which includes locality pay. See OPM's Web page at
Domestic travel will be required.
Application Process: 

The Application Package must be received by 11:59 PM, Eastern Time, on the closing date of this announcement.

Please submit your application through USAJOBS. The list of required documents can be found in the USAJOBS announcement.

1. If you do not already have an account, please create a USAJOBS account before applying. You can do so by clicking on Create an Account. You will be able to upload your resume and supporting documents and complete your profile prior to applying.

Once you have an account, apply to the USAJOBS vacancy: .

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Relocation Expenses: 
Relocation expenses are not authorized.
Number of Positions: 
Updated April 7, 2016

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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 color, race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, disability (physical or mental), age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a parent, membership or non-membership in an employee organization, on the basis of personal favoritism, or any other non-merit 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.

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 his  or her retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that he/she was transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).


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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.