Job Opportunities

Forensic Social Worker/Forensic Professional Counselor

Vacancy Announcement:
Pay Series:
Opening Date:
Feb 7, 2020
Closing Date:
Mar 8, 2020
Number of Vacancies:
Position Type:
Full-time, permanent

Public Defender Service
Office of Rehabilitation and Development
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 110
Washington, DC 20004

Who May Appy:
U.S. Citizens and those authorized to work in the United States

Starting Salary: AD11 $72,030 - $93,638 (equivalent to GS-11)

Promotion Potential: AD-13 (equivalent to GS-13)

The incumbent may be promoted without further competition upon completion of one year of exemplary performance, subject to approval of the PDS Director.

Organization Description:

PDS Overview: 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 214 employees, comprised of 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 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. District of Columbia residency is not a requirement for employment.

Employment at the Public Defender Service (PDS) is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.

Division Description: The Office of Rehabilitation and Development (ORD) provides the social work component of the defense in the representation of adult and/or juvenile clients. ORD assists staff attorneys and attorneys practicing under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) develop least restrictive, individualized sentencing and rehabilitation plans for clients, case-based counseling, case management, and collaboration with criminal and/or juvenile justice agencies and other parties working with our clients.

Essential Duties:

This position is located in the Office of Rehabilitation and Development and provides services to adult and limited juvenile clients arrested for serious violations in the District of Columbia. Under the general supervision of the chief of the division, incumbent will evaluate clients and devise, recommend, and implement individualized service/treatment options in the least restrictive settings. Incumbent will perform the following duties: work in concert with legal counsel on behalf of PDS clients and appointed counsel clients through the Criminal Justice Act (CJA). Visit client, family, and other collateral contacts to establish personal background and history summaries. Visit clients at their residence, jails, group homes/halfway houses, and other similar locations. Develop dispositional plans geared to the specific and individual needs of each client, evaluate and recommend treatment options and prison programs (where appropriate). Identify and make referrals for mental health and medical services, substance abuse treatment, education, and other services. Work with local social service agencies to identify programs and resources for clients and their families, and keep abreast of and develop cooperative relationships with service organizations and legal agencies to assist clients with matters related to their rehabilitation and develop dispositional strategies.

Required Qualifications:

A master’s degree or higher in social work, counseling, or related degree, three years of post-graduate professional, advanced experience as social worker/case manager or other comparable experience, or advanced year graduate school internship placement at a social work department of a public defender office that handles major felonies. 

Other Requirements: Incumbent must have no convictions as defined in DC Code Section 14.305 (b) (1) (Impeachment by evidence of conviction of crime). Reliable transportation is necessary as travel is required in and around the DC area.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) Required: In addition to a traditional resume, candidates should submit a separate narrative statement addressing the following quality ranking factors. These factors will be used to distinguish the best-qualified applicants from a group of persons basically qualified for the position. Failure to submit your narrative response for this position will negatively affect your eligibility and/or rating for this position.

  1. Experience working with arrested adults and understanding of the plight of persons from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  2. Direct defense experience working with adult clients on rehabilitation and dispositional issues.
  3. Knowledge of social work concepts and concepts related to rehabilitation and alternatives to confinement.
  4. Demonstrated excellent writing and oral persuasion skills and ability to communicate effectively to broad spectrum of people.
  5. Demonstrated computer skills.
  6. Familiarity with treatment and rehabilitation resources available in the D.C. metro area.
  7. Knowledge of the court system.
Preferred Qualifications:

Professional mental health experienced applicants are highly desired and encouraged to apply.

Application Evaluation:

How you will be evaluated: Your application package includes your letter of interest, résumé and requested supporting documents. Please ensure your application package includes detailed information to support your qualifications for this position. Failure to provide sufficient evidence in your application package and requested supporting documents can result in rejection of your application package.

Rating: Your application package will be rated and ranked among other applicants based on your experience, education, training, performance appraisals, and awards relevant to the duties of this position. Your rating can be lowered if your application package is not supported by the requested documents.

Referral: If you are among the top qualified candidates, your application package will be referred to a hiring manager for consideration at which time you may be invited to participate in a selection interview.

Non-local candidates (outside 60 miles) can request to be interviewed via Skype or other electronic means.


PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and employees are entitled to participate in federal benefits plans, federal retirement systems, and the workers compensation program. Transferring federal employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes (if applicable). Benefits include:

Federal Employees Retirement Systems (retirement annuity)
Thrift Savings Plan (similar to a 401K program)
Federal Employees Health Benefits (health insurance)
Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (life insurance)
Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program
Flexible Spending Accounts (for health care and dependent care)
Long Term Care
Public Transportation Subsidy (funding contingent)
Parking Space Lottery
Employee Assistance Program
Federal Occupational Health (access to health clinic and services)

How To Apply:

Applicants must submit the following:

  • Explanation why leaving current, or left most recent, employment (include in resume or cover letter)
  • a traditional résumé with day telephone and email contact information;
  • graduate school transcripts;
  • a narrative statement addressing above KSAs;
  • a writing sample;
  • a list of three references; and
  • your most recent performance appraisal (if applicable).

Please submit your application package via email as MS Word or PDF documents to the following email address: The vacancy number and title of the vacancy MUST APPEAR on the subject line of the email. Application packages submitted with missing information can affect referring application package to the hiring manager. PDS does not accept application packages by mail or fax.

For applicants with disabilities, this organization provides reasonable accommodations which will be decided on a case-by-case basis. To request a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or interview process, please contact Jenni Salas, HR Specialist at (202) 824-2420 or at

PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and E-Verify Participating Agency.