Job Opportunities

Special Litigation Division Attorney (#PDS-2020-20)

Vacancy Announcement:
Pay Series:
PDS 12/13/14 (GSA-12/13/14 Equivalent)
Promotion Potential: If this position is filled at a lower grade, incumbent will have promotion potential to PDS-14 (GS-14 equivalent).
Opening Date:
May 18, 2020
Closing Date:
Jun 12, 2020
Number of Vacancies:
Public Defender Service
  for the District of Columbia
633 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
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, CSRSOffset), 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:

The Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service is a small group of lawyers committed 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 a number of issues, including adult sentences imposed on people who committed crimes as juveniles, unconstitutional conditions imposed on pretrial detainees and prisoners, police misconduct, and government failures to disclose exculpatory evidence. The Division has also litigated cases pertaining to the government’s use of flawed forensic science, unconstitutional conditions imposed on parolees, the shackling of children in Superior Court, and the District of Columbia’s civil forfeiture statute.
Position Description:
SLD attorneys litigate criminal and civil cases in local and federal courts, conduct trainings, work on legislative reform, and act as consultants to attorneys in the other divisions of PDS. The attorney’s duties will include drafting substantive trial, post-conviction, and appellate pleadings and presenting oral arguments; working with trial lawyers in on-going criminal litigation; engaging in extensive legal research; factual investigation and development; working with scientific experts and other consultants; conducting evidentiary hearings; and presenting training sessions for PDS and Criminal Justice Act attorneys. SLD attorneys must have excellent research and writing skills, be creative and persuasive oral and written advocates, and enjoy working collaboratively and with active supervision.
Required Qualifications:
J.D. or equivalent degree from an accredited law school; membership in the District of Columbia Bar or eligibility for reciprocity admission to the DC Bar; and excellent research, writing, and oral persuasion skills. Staff attorneys are required to make a three year commitment to the agency.
Preferred Qualifications:
Two years of relevant experience is preferred but not required. Preferred qualifications include a demonstrated ability to conduct complex research and writing projects, experience in factual development and working with expert witnesses and consultants, experience representing indigent clients in criminal and civil cases in federal and state trial and appellate courts.
Application Evaluation:
Applicants will be evaluated based on the quality of their written and oral advocacy, their past experience, and their commitment to being a public defender.
How To Apply:
Applicants must submit: (1) a cover letter; (2) a resume; (3) a list of three references (name, e-mail address, telephone number, and a brief statement of how each reference is able to evaluate your skills); (4) a legal writing sample, preferably a brief or other advocacy piece; (5) an official law school transcript; and (6) a response to the question: “Why do you want to work at the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service?” (The response should be no more than three double-spaced typewritten pages). With the exception of the law school transcript, all materials must be submitted online as a consolidated PDF through "Apply To This Job."

*Please mail your official transcript to:

Jennifer Thomas, Director of Legal Recruiting
Attention: PDS-2020-20
Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
633 Indiana Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004

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