Job Opportunities

Executive Director

Pay Series:
$143,314 - $176,300
Organization Description:

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization that provides legal representation to individuals who are charged with criminal offenses and facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia. In addition, PDS represents individuals facing a loss of liberty in mental health and other cases. Governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees, PDS has approximately 225 employees, most of whom are located at the main office at 633 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. There are approximately 100 attorneys at PDS. In addition, PDS has social workers, investigators, and administrative and technical staff who work with the legal staff to advance the PDS mission.

For more than 60 years, PDS has been a leader in providing exceptional advocacy and quality legal representation to indigent adults and children. Judges and prosecutors alike, as well as public defender agencies and criminal justice bars across the country, acknowledge and respect the outstanding work of PDS’s attorneys. PDS is recognized as one of the few defender organizations to meet the standards outlined in the American Bar Association’s Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System.

The Executive Division oversees PDS’s legal and administrative operations, including PDS’s trial, appellate, mental health, parole, civil, special litigation, and community defender representation as well as PDS’s budget and finance, human resources, information technology, and administrative functions. The Executive Division also includes PDS’s general counsel, strategic planning, internal legal training, forensics, conflicts management, legislative, and Superior Court panel attorney engagement functions.

Position Description:

Positioned within the Executive Division, the Director advances and supports PDS’s mission of providing high-quality counsel and legal services to individuals facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia who can’t afford to hire an attorney. Reporting to the Board of Trustees and managing a budget of approximately $50 million, the Director serves as chief executive officer.

    PDS Organizational Chart

Essential Duties:

The Director’s duties involve the oversight of all key areas of the organization.

Strategy, governance & compliance

  • Responsible for PDS’s strategic planning, legal compliance, hiring, and financial planning
  • Guides PDS’s leadership team and sets goals, direction, and policies for the office
  • Supports the PDS Board of Trustees as it meets its governance and other statutory obligations, including ensuring that PDS produces its annual report and conducts its annual audit

Organizational climate

  • Demonstrates principled leadership and sound ethics, and promotes an equitable environment for staff and clients

Partnership & representation

  • Represents PDS within the District’s legal system
  • Collaborates with national justice-related organizations in support of PDS’s clients

Staff support & development

  • Develops procedures and policies that promote staff accountability, productivity, and continuous professional development
  • Responsible for workforce and succession planning, including assessing current and future staffing needs relating to organizational goals

Finance & budget

  • Engages with the Office of Management and Budget and the Congress in support of PDS’s budget requests
  • Accountable for all aspects of PDS’s financial management, including budget planning, budget formulation, and budget implementation
  • Assesses and determines PDS resource needs and allocations
Required Qualifications:

To be considered for this position, applicants must be attorneys who are members of the District of Columbia Bar. This position is onsite in Washington, D.C. with options for a blended schedule of in-office and telework.

Well-qualified candidates will also demonstrate the following:

  • Experience as a public defender or a criminal defense lawyer
  • Excellent verbal, written, interpersonal, team-building, and leadership skills
  • A commitment to individuals with criminal legal system involvement in need of court- appointed counsel
  • Substantial demonstrated experience managing attorneys and other legal, administrative, and professional staff
  • Experience with budget management
  • Familiarity with relevant District of Columbia laws and court procedures
How To Apply:

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia has engaged POLIHIRE to assist in the search process to find its next Director. If you are interested in and prepared for this opportunity, please submit a cover letter outlining your qualifications and your resume to A first in-depth review of applications will be conducted on May 2, 2022.

Please include only your name (Last, First) in the subject line when submitting these materials.

Note: PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and all employees are entitled to federal benefits, including health and life insurance, federal retirement, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes. PDS employees are not covered under Title V of the United States Code for purposes other than benefits, are members of the Excepted Service, and are employed at will.

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