Job Opportunities

Trial Attorney

Vacancy Announcement:
Pay Series:
PDS 11/12/13 (GS 11/12/13 equivalent)
Salary Range: $79,945 - $106, 823
Opening Date:
Jul 26, 2022
Closing Date:
Sep 6, 2022
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.

Division Background:

Attorneys in the Trial Division zealously represent adults in criminal proceedings and children in delinquency matters in the District of Columbia. Attorneys are assigned to specific types of cases based on experience and performance. As a result of intensive supervision and ongoing training, attorneys generally progress over the course of several years from litigating juvenile delinquency matters to litigating the most serious adult offenses. Less senior Trial Division staff attorneys handle the most difficult or resource-intensive delinquency cases (i.e., those with serious charges or children with serious mental illnesses or learning disabilities) and handle some general felony cases and a limited number of misdemeanor cases. Trial Division staff attorneys also provide representation in a wide range of other legal matters through PDS’s Duty Day Program and the Superior Court’s Drug Court Program.
Essential Duties:
Trial Division attorneys are responsible for providing outstanding oral and written advocacy in their individual cases and for working effectively with investigators, forensic social workers, and other specialists as needed to achieve each client’s desired outcome. Trial Division attorneys are also expected to be available to their colleagues to assist and to work collaboratively to produce the best outcome for PDS Trial Division clients.
Required Qualifications:
J.D. or equivalent degree from an accredited law school by June 2023; excellent research, writing, and oral persuasion skills; and membership in the District of Columbia Bar or eligibility to practice pursuant to either D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49(c)(9)(B) or 49(c)(9)(C). For law graduates, bar membership or eligibility to practice in D.C. should be specifically addressed in the cover letter. Applicants are required to make a three-year commitment to the agency.
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), and (4) a response to the question “Why do you want to be a public defender?” (Include a discussion of your background and/or any personal experience significantly contributing to your desire to do this work, no more than two typewritten pages, single- or double-spaced), All materials must be submitted online as a consolidated PDF through the "Apply To This Job" button.

*Candidates will be required to submit an official law school transcript or proof of law school graduation prior to an offer of employment.

Timeline: PDS will conduct interviews in the fall for the trial class that will start on November 7, 2023.

For questions about the hiring process, requirements or assistance with applying, please contact:

Jennifer Thomas, Director of Legal Recruiting
(202) 480-0385 or

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