Job Opportunities

Immigration Fellowship (Two Year Term)

Vacancy Announcement:
Pay Series:

$76,832 per year

Opening Date:
May 14, 2020
Closing Date:
Jun 10, 2020
Position Type:
Fellowship (Two Year Term)
Organization Description:
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 criminal, delinquency, and mental health matters in the District of Columbia. PDS’s approximately 200 attorneys, social workers, investigators, and administrative and technical staff collaborate with each other to advance the PDS mission. PDS’s main office is located at 633 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.  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, and the Thrift Savings Plan.  Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes.  Employment at the Public Defender Service is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.   

Immigration Program Background:

The PDS Immigration Attorney advises PDS and Criminal Justice Act (CJA) appointed attorneys as well as noncitizen clients on the immigration consequences of criminal cases. This work includes assessing noncitizen clients’ current immigration status and available relief from deportation, performing research on the particular immigration consequences of DC code offenses, and identifying alternative dispositions that minimize immigration consequences. The PDS immigration attorney also advises duty day clients regarding the immigration consequences of sealing arrest and conviction records and also litigates post-conviction claims on behalf of immigrant clients and issues pertaining to immigration status in DC Superior Court. The PDS immigration attorney also engages in education and advocacy regarding immigration enforcement in the DC criminal justice system, and participates in stakeholder meetings regarding the same.

Position Description:

PDS seeks a full-time, two year immigration fellow to assist PDS’s Staff Immigration Attorney in managing and growing PDS’s immigrant defense program. The Immigration Fellow will be responsible for assisting the PDS Immigration Attorney in: advising PDS and Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys and their clients in both written memorandum form and orally on the immigration consequences of pending criminal cases; identifying alternative dispositions that minimize the immigration consequences for the client; assisting PDS and CJA attorneys with crafting legal arguments and strategies to avoid triggering those consequences; advocating on behalf of clients in court and in meetings with prosecutors; providing immigration law support to attorneys at arraignments, during the plea agreement negotiation process, and at other stages of the representation where the client’s immigration status could be adversely affected by a representational decision; performing legal research to support creation of a chart detailing the immigration consequences of DC offenses; drafting written training materials and practice advisories on immigration law; training PDS and CJA attorneys and staff on immigration issues; updating an immigrant defense program section on the PDS website; and engaging in advocacy and community education regarding immigration enforcement in the DC criminal justice system. The attorney in this position will not be representing individuals in removal proceedings, but the position will require occasional appearances in DC Superior Court for criminal or post-conviction matters.

Commencement Date: 

The Immigration Fellow will be expected to start no later than September 1, 2020, but preference will be given to candidates who can begin earlier.

Required Qualifications:
Immigration law experience with particular experience in the intersection of criminal and immigration law; strong legal research and writing skills; excellent communication and organizational skills; and a commitment to providing indigent clients facing criminal charges zealous team-oriented defense.
Preferred Qualifications:
Membership in good standing in the District of Columbia Bar or membership in good standing in another jurisdiction with eligibility for admission to the District of Columbia Bar; criminal-immigration law experience at a public defender office or in removal defense work; interest and experience performing research using the categorical approach; fluency in Spanish.
How To Apply:
Please submit a single pdf containing your complete application through "Apply To This Job" by June 10, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. The application should include a cover letter, resume, three references (name, address, telephone number and a statement of how each reference is able to evaluate your skills), a law school transcript (unofficial copy acceptable), and two recent writing samples (ideally a filed pleading and an analytical memorandum, legal opinion, or client letter).  If you are unable to submit your application materials through the website or have questions about the position, our organization, or the hiring process, contact Jennifer Thomas, Director of Legal Recruiting, at (202) 824-2337 or  

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