Lateral Trial Attorney

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Open Date: Jul 3, 2023
Close Date: Oct 24, 2023
Position Type: Open Until Filled Full-Time
Location: 633 Indiana Avenue, NW Washington, District of Columbia 20004

About The Job

PDS Overview:

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia seeks candidates interested in joining our November, 2023 trial class. Lateral attorneys are those who have practiced criminal defense for three or more years and have first-chaired at least three felony (or D.C. felony-equivalent) jury trials.

A major portion of the work of PDS consists of representing individuals in the District of Columbia’s local criminal legal system who are charged with committing serious criminal acts and who are eligible for court-appointed counsel. In the District of Columbia, public defense services are provided primarily by PDS (the “institutional defender”) and a panel of private attorneys, known ad Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys, who are screened for membership on the panel and paid on a case-by-case basis by the D.C. courts. Because of its resources, well-regarded training program, and institutional practice knowledge, PDS lawyers handle the most serous criminal cases consistent with the best practices of the legal profession.

Position Description:

Staff attorneys in the Trial Division zealously represent adults in criminal proceedings in the District of Columbia Superior Court (Superior Court) and children in delinquency matters. Attorneys are assigned to specific levels of cases, based on experience and performance. Those case levels are juvenile, general felony, serious felony and felony I.

As specialists who participate in complex litigation, PDS trial attorneys are expected to handle all phases of litigation in the D.C. Superior Court, including demanding and reviewing discovery, conducting legal research and analysis, writing briefs, motions and other legal documents, attending court conferences, arguing motions and conducting trials. As part of their work, attorneys communicate regularly with clients, both in the community and at the D.C. Jail and the Central Treatment Facility. Trial attorneys work on individual and co-counseled cases and direct teams that include investigators, interns and law clerks. Due to the nature of the work, trial attorneys are often required to work nights, weekends and other non-traditional schedules.

This is not a remote location position.

Required Qualifications:

A minimum of three years’ experience as a criminal defense attorney and first-chair for at least three felony, or D.C. felony-equivalent, jury trials. Excellent discretion, judgment and the ability to analyze, interpret and make decisions based on complex factors.

Preferred Qualifications:

Experience as a public defender representing low-income clients charged with serious crimes.

Pay Series:

PDS AD 13-1 (equivalent to GS 13-1)



How to Apply:

Consolidate and submit the following materials as a single PDF: (1) a cover letter explaining why you want to be a trial attorney at PDS, (2) a resume, (3) a list of three references and how they can evaluate your skills, (4) a redacted list of your three most recent felony jury trials (include an explanation of the charges, legal issues raised, motions filed, and any use of scientific evidence and/or expert witnesses). If you are not a member in good standing of the District of Columbia Bar, address your eligibility for admission in the 'notes' section of the application.

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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.