Appellate Attorney

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Open Date: Aug 4, 2023
Close Date: Oct 15, 2023
Position Type: Permanent Exempt
Job Vacancy #: PDS-2023-40
Location: 633 Indiana Avenue, NW Washington, District of Columbia 20004

About The Job

Division Overview:

The PDS Appellate Division litigates the appeals (and sometimes collateral proceedings related to appeals) generated by PDS’s trial and other divisions, participates as amicus curiae in cases involving novel or complex legal issues, and provides legal advice, assistance and training to other PDS divisions and Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys. The majority of the Division’s work consists of direct criminal appeals in the D.C. Court of Appeals, our highest court. The Division has approximately sixteen lawyers, a paralegal and an office manager. Lawyers are committed to providing their clients with the highest level of written and oral advocacy. Cases are closely supervised and extensively vetted, and rigorous moot courts precede all oral arguments.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Position Description:

Appellate Division attorneys litigate cases primarily in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and at times in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ancillary to appellate representation. They must be able to work well with clients, write a substantial number of appellate briefs each year, and present effective oral arguments. Other responsibilities include participating in moot courts for other division lawyers, collaborating with colleagues in and outside the Appellate Division, and advising and training PDS and CJA attorneys. In addition to the traditional menu of criminal, juvenile delinquency and mental health appeals, appellate division lawyers can expect to work on appeals from Superior Court denials of Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act motions. 

This is not a remote location position 

This is a full-time permanent position. Currently, appellate lawyers are required to work in-office at least three days a week and may work remotely only up to two days a week. Absent unusual circumstances, certain duties must be performed in person, such as oral arguments, moot courts, and visiting detention facilities.  For this position, it will be the responsibility of the attorney to ensure that any remote work they perform complies with the ethical and practice requirements of the remote jurisdiction. Appellate attorneys are sometimes required to work nights, weekends, and other non-traditional schedules to meet filing deadlines.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Required Qualifications:

J.D. from an ABA-approved law school by May, 2024. Excellent research, writing and oral persuasion skills. Staff attorneys are required to make a three-year commitment to the division.

Application Evaluation:

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Start date is negotiable but must be before October 1, 2024

Pay Series:

PDS-AD 11/12/13 (GS-11/12/13 equivalent)


$83,830 - $119,482 

How to Apply:

Applicants must submit: (1) a cover letter, (2) a resume that includes a list of three references (name, address, telephone number, and a statement of how each reference is able to evaluate your skills), (3) a legal writing sample, preferably a brief or other advocacy piece, (4) response to the question (no more than three double-spaced typewritten pages): Why do you want to be an appellate public defender?, and (5) a law school transcript*. All materials must be submitted online as a consolidated PDF below. If you are unable to apply through the portal or have questions about the position or our office contact:

 Jennifer Thomas, Director of Legal Recruiting at  [email protected] or (202) 480-0385

*You may submit a copy of your law school transcript

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The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization; governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees, PDS provides legal representation to individuals facing a loss of freedom in the local criminal, delinquency, and mental health systems in the District of Columbia. PDS’s approximately 275 attorneys, social workers, investigative specialists, administrative, and technical staff collaborate with each other to advance the PDS mission. PDS’s main office is located at 633 3rd Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001. District of Columbia residency is not a requirement for employment. PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and all employees are entitled to participate in the federal health and life insurance plans, the federal retirement plans (FERS, FERS-RAE, FERS-FRAE, CSRS, CSRS-Offset), and the Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes. Employment at PDS is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.

PDS is an E-Verify participating agency. Please see the Right to Work Poster and the E-Verify Participation Poster for more information.


PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and E-Verify Participant.