Job Opportunities

Paralegal Specialist - Term

Vacancy Announcement:
PDS 2022-11
Pay Series:


Opening Date:
Apr 27, 2022
Closing Date:
May 18, 2022
Number of Vacancies:
Position Type:
Full-Time-Term (expiring September 30, 2024)

Public Defender Service
Special Litigation Division
633 Indiana Ave, NW
Washington, DC. 20004

Who May Appy:
US Citizens or persons authorized to work in the United States.
$68,217 - $88,684
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 who are facing a loss of liberty in criminal, delinquency, and mental health justice matters in the local District of Columbia justice system but who are financially unable to obtain adequate representation.  PDS’s staff consists of approximately 100 attorneys and approximately 100 social workers, investigators, administrative, and technical staff. Most employees work at the main office 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 certain federal benefit plans: health and life insurance, federal retirement, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Employees with creditable federal service will receive recognition of that service for leave accrual and retirement purposes. 

Employment at the Public Defender Service is at will and is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment.

Division Overview: The Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service is dedicated to addressing recurring and systemic violations of our clients’ rights to fair trials and fair treatment. The Division engages in a wide variety of criminal and civil litigation in local and federal courts. Currently the Division is focused on several issues, including adult sentences imposed on people who committed crimes when they were adolescents, unconstitutional conditions imposed on pretrial detainees and prisoners, police misconduct, and government failures to disclose exculpatory evidence.

One area of the Division’s focus is the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA) is a D.C. law that entitles certain individuals to seek reduced sentences.  Individuals who were under 25 years old at the time of the offense and who have served at least 15 years in prison are eligible. Because these cases involve lengthy sentences, those represented are serving time primarily for homicide, armed robbery, and rape convictions.  At the resentencing hearing, IRAA requires the judge to consider certain factors, including the client’s life and circumstances at the time of the offense, any history of abuse or trauma, and any rehabilitation that has occurred since the sentencing.

Essential Duties:

The SLD Paralegal Specialist performs a number of paralegal and administrative functions in support of SLD’s IRAA cases.  The SLD Paralegal Specialist incumbent reports to the Chief of the Special Litigation Division, who outlines the scope of the assignment, overall objectives, and priorities.  The employee and the supervisor develop deadlines and priorities for the work to be done.  Within this framework, the employee independently plans and carries out assignments, determining the most appropriate methods, techniques, and practices to apply in all phases of research and other assignments, coordinating the work with staff attorneys or other staff members when appropriate.  The incumbent must use considerable ingenuity to anticipate program or case requirements and determines the approach to be taken and methodology to be used for research issues.  Duties of the position include, but are not limited to:

Pre- & Post-Conviction Pleadings, Appellate Briefs, and Other Legal Pleadings

  1. Responsible for editing and final review of IRAA-related post-conviction pleadings filed by SLD, including careful review of each legal citation for accuracy in format and consistency with the most recent edition of the Bluebook Uniform System of Citation; utilization of legal databases to assure that case law and other sources have not been overturned or otherwise called into question; comparison of quotations to original source material to ensure accuracy; and review for spelling and grammatical errors. Pleadings include procedural motions that address unique circumstances that are unprecedented or novel.
  1. Responsible for production of IRAA-related post-conviction pleadings, including formatting to ensure text and headings are consistent with court requirements; creation of table of contents using Microsoft Word; creation of tables of authorities using specialized software (Best Authority); supervision of duplication to ensure timely production compliant with court rules.
  1. Responsible for ensuring timely service and filing of legal motions and other pleadings, including e-filing in the D.C. Superior Court.
  1. Responsible for the creation of appendices and exhibits for pleadings, including gathering relevant material from computerized transcript databases, court databases, trial files, court files, and communicating with opposing counsel regarding documents or exhibits that are not otherwise available.
  1. Responsible for drafting non-substantive motions including motions to unseal sealed portions of transcripts or sealed documents, motions to seal, and motions for writs.
  1. Responsible for communicating with opposing counsel to secure their position on non-substantive motions, as required by court rule.

Research and Analysis 

  1. Legal research for substantive and formal accuracy and legal clarity that includes, but is not limited to: controlling cases in numerous state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels; constitutional, statutory and regulatory provisions; legislative histories; secondary materials such as treatises, legal periodicals; scientific and social scientific journal articles, etc.
  1. Research in court databases (e.g., PACER), academic article databases, news databases, and other databases related to SLD’s IRAA cases.
  1. Other special research projects that address IRAA-related issues (unique and unprecedented).


Record Gathering, File Management, and Client Services

  1. Record gathering from the D.C. Superior Court, the D.C. Court of Appeals, the National Archives, and other locations.
  1. Managing and organizing the files and data, and scheduling pertaining to SLD’s IRAA cases and IRAA-related projects and training activities.
  1. Responsible for reviewing transcripts received to ensure they are complete; reviewing transcripts and court docket entries to ensure that transcripts for all appropriate hearings have been ordered and received.
  1. Responding to client or prospective client inquiries and acting as a liaison to other agency divisions on client-related issues.
  1. Other duties as assigned.



Required Qualifications:

Qualification Requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher in law, library sciences, public policy, sociology or similar field from an accredited educational institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  2. Expressed and/or demonstrated interest and commitment to serving people charged or convicted in the D.C. criminal legal system.
  3. Experience with research.
  4. Experience with Microsoft Excel and Adobe Pro.
  5. High level of organization and attention to detail.

Vaccination Policy: As a condition of employment and before starting employment, all employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive a reasonable accommodation due to a disability or sincere religious belief. Prior to your first date of employment, candidates will be required either (A) to submit proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to the Office of Human Resources or (B) request and receive an accommodation due to disability of sincere religious belief.

Telework: This is a full-time, temporary position that will expire on September 30, 2024.  Due to the pandemic, this position is eligible for remote work.  At this time, PDS is on a maximum telework schedule until October 2022. Beginning in October, we expect this position to shift to a hybrid work schedule; the details of this schedule will depend on the needs of the Division, assignments that must be performed in person (e.g., court hearings, client visits in detention facilities) and office space availability. For these positions, it will be the responsibility of the mitigation specialist to ensure that any remote work they perform complies with the ethical and practice requirements of the remote jurisdiction.

Preferred Qualifications:

Highly Desirable Qualifications:  Additionally, the following achievements and/or experiences are deemed highly desirable and strongly preferred:

  1. Paralegal certification, paralegal experience, or closely comparable experience.
  2. Experience with Westlaw, LexisNexis, or other legal research tool or platform.
  3. Experience editing or drafting legal motions or documents.
  4. Experience Blue Booking and checking legal citations.
  5. Specialized experience with legal research and the practice of law.
  6. Experience working with people charged or convicted in the criminal legal system.
  7. Experience in social services fields.
  8. Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

Application Evaluation:

Rating: Your application package will be rated and ranked among other applicants based on your experience, education, training, 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.

Interview Structure:  Those who are selected for interviews will be required to interview via Cisco Web-X, Skype, or some other communications platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Benefits: 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 (if applicable) purposes. Benefits include:

Federal Employees Retirement Systems (retirement annuity)
Thrift Savings Plan (similar to a 401k program)
Federal Employees Health Benefits 
Federal Employees Group Life Insurance
Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program
Flexible Spending Accounts (for health care and dependent care)
Long-Term Care Insurance
Transportation Subsidy
Employee Assistance Program
Federal Occupational Health (access to health clinic and services)

How To Apply:

How to apply: You must provide a complete application package which includes: (1) a cover letter and resume; (2) a copy of your college/university transcripts for each degree earned; (3) a list of three references that include name, address, telephone number, and a statement of how each reference is able to evaluate your skills; and (4) a copy of your paralegal certificate (if applicable).  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 could result in a rejection of your application package.

Application Portal

Please submit your application package through PDS’s online application portal found through the following link:

To submit required documents, you must click on the “APPLY” button for Vacancy Announcement.  You must also fully answer the Questionnaire found through the above linked website.  Additionally, the documentation you provide through your cover letter and/or resume must support your answers on the Questionnaire.  Application packages submitted with missing information and/or responses to the Questionnaire can negatively affect referring your application package to the hiring manager.  PDS will not accept application packages by email, mail, fax, or personal delivery.

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 Anisha Trice, HR Specialist at 202-823-2227 or

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