Job Opportunities

Juvenile Services Program Staff Attorney (#PDS-2020-17)

Vacancy Announcement:
Pay Series:
PDS-11/12 (GS-11/12 Equivalent)

Promotion Potential: If this position is filled at a lower grade, incumbent will have promotion potential to PDS-12 (GS-12 equivalent).
Opening Date:
May 8, 2020
Closing Date:
Jun 5, 2020
Position Type:
Public Defender Service
  for the District of Columbia
Community Defender Division
1442 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20003
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 the local criminal, delinquency, and mental health systems in the District of Columbia. PDS’s approximately 235 attorneys, social workers, investigators, 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 (FERS, FERS-RAE, 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 the Public Defender Service is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.

Division Description: As part of PDS’s holistic approach to public defense, the Community Defender Division provides services to adults and children, primarily those who are in the post-adjudication stage of a criminal or juvenile delinquency case in the District of Columbia Superior Court. In the context of evolving concepts of holistic public defense, PDS is seeking to identify and implement enhancements to CDD’s mission and operations. CDD currently provides its services through two specialized programs – the Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services Program (PRLS) for adult clients and the Juvenile Services Program (JSP) for juvenile clients.

For adult clients, PRLS responds to the legal and social services needs of newly released individuals and others with criminal records, assisting them in making a successful transition back into the community; and CDD serves as the PDS liaison to individuals convicted of District of Columbia Code offenses and serving sentences in the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, Central Treatment Facility and Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities, to provide representation in designated administrative hearings and information on institutional policies and procedures to protect their rights; to monitor their conditions of incarceration; and to provide assistance and guidance on parole and other release-related matters.

For juvenile clients, JSP represents children at administrative due process hearings and institutional disciplinary hearings, provides in-person legal consultations for children at the District’s youth detention centers, and works with community organizations to develop reentry programs that address the special needs of children.
Position Description:

The Juvenile Services Program (“JSP”) Staff Attorney will primarily focus on providing advocacy and legal representation for detained and committed juveniles in the District of Columbia delinquency system – those who are held at the District’s secure detention facilities, the Youth Services Center in D.C. and the New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel, Maryland, as well as with those who are placed in the community. The nature of the work may be in person or virtual depending on circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The JSP Staff Attorney will be required to:

1. Assist in staffing legal rights offices at the two detention centers;

2. Conduct client visits to local and out-of-jurisdiction placements to assist in discharge planning and monitoring potential legal issues;

3. Represent youth in administrative due process hearings and court proceedings, when applicable;

4. Represent and advocate for youth in administrative meetings and processes pertaining to youths’ rights at all stages of the juvenile court process, including institutional adjustment during periods of detention and reentry planning;

5. Develop and implement “know your rights” educational programs for detained and committed youth;

6. Assist JSP Deputy Chief in training and supervising JSP law clerks and interns;

7. Participate in all CDD events, with an emphasis on community outreach, training and education, consistent with the mission of CDD;

8. Adhere to supervision requests including but not limited to: division and program staff meetings, individual supervision meetings and evaluation, internal and external trainings, and participation in community events; and

9. Perform other duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications:

J.D. or equivalent degree from an accredited law school by June 2020; membership in District of Columbia Bar, or eligibility for reciprocity admission to the D.C. Bar; ability to work independently and to maintain professional relationships with facilities staff; and excellent research, writing, computer, and oral persuasion skills. Staff attorneys are required to make a three year commitment to the agency. 3Ls are required to take the first available District of Columbia bar exam. The starting salary for recent law graduates who are not yet admitted to the District of Columbia bar is $65,561; the salary increases to $76,832 upon bar admission. In addition the candidate shall possess the following:

  • Ability to work independently and creatively;
  • Confidence for public speaking to address of a variety of audiences, including clients, administrative bodies, judges, community members, and stakeholders;
  • Collaborative and supportive approach to working with coworkers and teammates;
  • Aptitude to develop and build interpersonal relationships with judiciousness and empathy;
  • Strong research, writing, and analytical skills;
  • Established organizational skills;
  • Effective management of multiple projects and meeting deadlines; and
  • Ability to periodically travel.

Preferred Qualifications:
Familiarity with Superior Court Family Division practice, administrative law practice, education law, as well as the rights, care and treatment of detained and committed children under District of Columbia law. Access to a vehicle is strongly preferred. Candidates with Spanish language skills are strongly encouraged to apply.
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; and (4) an official law school transcript.

Please submit your application materials as a consolidated PDF through the PDS website at and mail your transcript to:

Jennifer Thomas
Attn: PDS-2020-17
Director of Legal Recruitment
633 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

If you have any questions about the position, application, or hiring process, please contact Jennifer Thomas, Director of Legal Recruiting at (202) 480-0385 or

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