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Legal Careers

Trial Attorney

Hiring Organization
Criminal Division (CRM)
Hiring Office
Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section
Job ID
Washington, DC - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is seeking a qualified, experienced attorney to serve as a Trial Attorney in the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP).

Within the Human Rights portfolio, HRSP investigates and prosecutes human rights violators for genocide, torture, war crimes, and recruitment or use of child soldiers, and for immigration and naturalization fraud arising out of efforts to hide their involvement in such crimes. Within the International Violent Crime portfolio, HRSP prosecutes crimes of violence committed abroad, particularly involving victims or perpetrators who are U.S. government employees, contractors and dependents (usually using MEJA, 18 USC 3261, or SMTJ jurisdiction, 18 USC 7). Within the Human Smuggling portfolio, HRSP prosecutes members of international criminal networks involved in human smuggling and related immigration crimes who endanger the lives of migrants or pose security concerns.

HRSP also leads two recent AG initiatives: the War Crimes Accountability Team focused on Ukraine, and Joint Task Force Alpha, the DOJ/DHS anti-human smuggling & trafficking task force.

The Section’s prosecutions are usually pursued jointly with a United States Attorney’s Office and involve complex international investigations. HRSP also is actively engaged in policy and legislative work regarding its diverse portfolios that involves close coordination with other U.S. government agencies and international organizations.

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

As a Trial Attorney, the incumbent independently directs, conducts, and monitors investigations, prepares and conducts trials, and advises on strategies and tactics relating to the prosecution of human rights violations, international violent crime and criminal immigration offenses. 

As a Trial Attorney, the incumbent:

  • Investigates and prosecutes cases in federal court, usually in partnership with United States Attorneys' Offices. This includes:
    • Developing and managing criminal investigations and prosecution in all phases of investigation and litigation, including, but not limited to, the use of grand jury, advising federal law enforcement agents, preparing pleadings, and litigating motions and trials before U.S. District Courts across the country; and
    • Handling significant, complex cases and possessing excellent judgment to make decisions regarding a wide variety of strategic litigation-related matters.
  • Handles complex, challenging, and potentially novel legal issues. This includes:
    • Serving as a subject matter expert, participating in, and/or providing advice on, activities related to the investigation and litigation of human rights, international violent crime and criminal immigration cases; and
    • Participating in outreach and training as necessary throughout the United States and abroad to a wide-variety of audiences.
  • Develops and maintains positive and effective relationships with our numerous law enforcement partners, such as federal, military and international investigative agencies. This includes:
    • Providing advice and instructions to AUSAs and law enforcement personnel on complicated questions of law and Departmental policy.
  • Develops and maintains positive and effective relationships within the Office. This includes:
    • Mentoring and advising more junior attorneys; and
    • Overseeing and helping to coordinate litigation assignments with paralegals and clerical personnel.
  • Advises and consults with the Deputy Chiefs, the Section Chief, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the Assistant Attorney General, and others on the status of all cases, matters and policy initiatives. This includes:
    • Collaborating with HRSP managers regarding the Section’s programs, including giving advice on strategy and legal complexities, and identifying and developing litigation priorities, policy, and legislative recommendations.

Required Qualifications: Interested applicants must possess a J.D., or equivalent, 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 be an active member of the bar in good standing. To qualify at the GS-15 grade level, applicants must have at least four (4) years post J.D. legal experience, at least two of which involve criminal litigation. 

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

  • Prior experience as a criminal prosecutor (federal, state, or military);
  • Prior trial experience;
  • Demonstrated ability to handle complex investigations, particularly those involving violations of federal statutes;
  • Superior oral advocacy and writing abilities;
  • Superior analytical skills and judgment;
  • Demonstrated ability to work well with others, both as a leader and as a team member; and
  • Foreign Language Skills (Spanish preferred).
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 USAJobsannouncement.

  1. If you do not already have an account, please create a USAjobs account before applying Create an Account. You will be able to upload your resume and supporting documents and complete your profile prior to applying.
  2. Once you have an account, apply to the USAjobs vacancy:

The salary range for this position is $155,700.00 to $183,500.00 per annum, which includes locality pay. See OPM’s Web page at…

Number of Positions
Domestic and international travel will be required for investigations and litigation work. Generally, travel is 25% or less although it may sometimes be more depending on specific investigations and cases.
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 March 9, 2023