U.S. Department of Justice Legal Hiring Programs

U.S. Department of Justice Legal Hiring Programs


The Department of Justice (DOJ) leads the nation in ensuring the protection of all Americans while preserving their constitutional freedoms.  Each agency within the DOJ has a variety of positions in offices across the nation, both paid and unpaid, that are available to both law students and recent graduates.  Listed below are the many ways hiring takes place within the DOJ, including instructions and deadlines that are important to know before applying. 


The Attorney General’s Honors Program (HP)

Third-year law students and students who enter judicial clerkships, graduate law programs, or qualifying fellowships within 9 months of law school graduation are eligible to apply for the Attorney General’s Honors Program (HP).   Participating DOJ components will be listed at: www.justice.gov/careers/legal/entry-participants.html.  The first opportunity to apply is the summer before the third year of law school.  Each applicant may select and rank order three separate Justice components.  The online application period opens the end of July; the deadline ends the first week of September, specifically the first Tuesday after Labor Day.  This year, the HP application period opens July 25, 2011 and closes September 6, 2011.


 Here are a few more tips, courtesy of a classmate of yours who attended a DOJ Career Fair:


1. It’s very rare for an Honors hire to start in a field office.  Most times, you will begin your career in DC. In fact, most laterals also start in DC.

2. Many Honors hires have done a federal judicial clerkship. Many others have done a judicial clerkship with the highest court in a state system.  

3. Some, but not all, divisions like to hire from top 10 law schools, and folks with top GPAs.  Keep in mind, however, that in the past two years, students from this school have gotten DOJ interviews. Doing a prestigious judicial clerkship may help you get a second look from these divisions.

4. A DOJ summer internship (paid through the SLIP program or volunteer—see below) is not determinative, but years these former clerks can get hired more often.

5. DOJ wants to hire folks who can be ‘tossed into the pool and swim on their own,’ so to speak.


Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP)

Law students who have completed at least one full semester of law school by the application deadline are eligible to apply.  The majority of SLIPs are second-year law students who work at Justice the summer between their second and third years of law school, but the SLIP is also open to recent graduates between graduation and the start of a judicial clerkship or full-time qualifying legal fellowship.  Participating DOJ components will be listed at: www.justice.gov/careers/legal/slip-participants.html

Each applicant may select and rank order three separate DOJ components.  The online application period opens the end of July; the deadline ends the first week of September, specifically the first Tuesday after Labor Day.  This year, the SLIP application period opens July 25, 2011, and closes September 6, 2011.


Volunteer Legal Intern Hiring

Typically, 800 interns are hired during the academic year, and 1000 during the summer.  Opportunities are nationwide.  60% of internships take place with US Attorney’s Offices.  Law students who have completed one semester of law school are eligble to apply.  Listings of volunteer opportunities are available at: www.justice.gov/careers/legal/volunteer-intern.html

Applicants must submit application materials to each DOJ component and USAO separately.  There is no centralized application process available.  Please note that each DOJ component and USAO has its own application deadlines, and applicants must adhere to respective deadlines.  Most DOJ components and USAOs have early application deadlines so interested individuals should plan to apply at least four months in advance.


Experienced Attorney Hiring

There are over 650+ attorneys hired every year.  Attorneys are active members in good standing of a bar in any of the U.S. jurisdiction and have at least one year of post-JD experience and specialized expertise.  All attorney vacancies are available at: www.justice.gov/careers/legal/attvacancies.html Application materials should be submitted directly to specific DOJ components or USAOs in response to vacancy announcements.  All application materials should be submitted at the same time.  DOJ components and USAOs differ in accepting unsolicited resumes.  Specific hiring contacts are listed at: www.justice.gov/careers/legal/larcontact.html and www.justice.gov/usao/about/offices.html. 



Each DOJ hiring program has different eligibility requirements. Detailed information is available online on each program’s respective webpage at www.justice.gov/careers/legal/index.html.


What We Look For

Top predictors of success include: demonstrated interest in the mission of the hiring office; demonstrated interest in public service; strong professional and academic track record; and, activities and accomplishments demonstrating character, work ethic, and potential.



Justice’s greatest asset is its dynamic and diverse workforce. We welcome applications from all qualified candidates whose backgrounds reflect the Nation’s rich diversity. In this regard, one of our goals is to eliminate barriers and make available new opportunities for people with disabilities to contribute to and thrive at DOJ. Our Commitment to diversity and inclusion is highlighted at: http://www.justice.gov/careers/legal/diversity.html.


Application Tips


Review any application early and begin to collect required information and to draft your responses to any questions. The essay questions at the end of the SLIP and HP applications, in particular, carry a great deal of weight and are considered mini-writing samples. Justice is interested in the full range of your experiences; take time to describe your experiences fully. Successful candidates speak about their personal motivations and demonstrate their knowledge of the components to which they are applying and how they are a good match with their selections.


Where to Find Additional Information

Please visit Justice’s legal career website at www.justice.gov/careers/legal/index.html for detailed information relating to DOJ’s hiring programs, including attorney vacancy announcements for experienced attorney hiring. Hiring estimates for the upcoming Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program will be posted under the links to those programs, then under “Participating Components.”