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Homeland Security

Honors Attorney Program Frequently Asked Questions

What address should I include in the cover letter that I submit electronically?

You may address your cover letter to:

Alexandra Edwards
Program Manager
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of the General Counsel
245 Murray Lane, Mail Stop 0485
Washington, D.C. 20528-0485

I graduated from law school one year ago and have been working for a law firm or another organization since then. Am I eligible to apply for this program?

No. You must apply to the Honors Program during your third year in law school or from a judicial clerkship immediately following graduation from law school.

Is there a page limit for my resume?

While there is no page limit to your resume, we receive thousands of applications, so brevity is appreciated.

My school does not use a traditional GPA standard and/or my school does not rank its students. Should I provide any additional information?

If your school does not use a traditional GPA standard, please provide a one-page document explaining the grading and ranking policies at your school. 

Does prior work experience within the Department of Homeland Security make a stronger candidate?

When reviewing applications, we consider all prior work experience of the applicant.

I have not been working as a judicial clerk but have been working as a paid legal clerk.  Am I still eligible to apply?

Only judicial clerkships count for post-J.D. work eligibility.  A paid legal clerk (intern) working for a government agency or private firm is not a judicial law clerk and therefore would not be eligible.  A judicial law clerk is an individual who has graduated from law school and assists a judge or a court in his or her capacity as an attorney.  Typical duties include researching and forming opinions based on court filings, writing memoranda and/or draft opinions for review by the judge or court, and preparing for court proceedings.  Examples of individuals who would qualify as a judicial law clerk include staff attorneys and law clerks for any federal or state judge, including federal district court judges, federal court of appeals judges, immigration judges, administrative law judges, and magistrate judges.  

I took a paid job upon graduating but am now working as a judicial clerk. Am I still eligible to apply?

No.  If you worked at a paid non-clerkship job after graduating from law school, you are not eligible to apply.

I took time off after law school to travel and am now applying to the program. Am I still eligible to apply?

No, you are not eligible to apply.

What if I need to update my resume or transcript after submitting my application?

If you need to update any of your application materials prior to the deadline, please resubmit your entire application package and note in your email that you are resubmitting your application with updated materials. Updated materials (such as resumes or transcripts) are not accepted after the application deadline. Materials that are sent in after the deadline will not be considered. 

Is the Honors Attorney Program part of the DHS Secretary’s Honors Program?

While the Honors Attorney Program is part of the Secretary’s Honors Program (SHP), there are different hiring timelines, program timing, rotational aspects, and requirements for the Honors Attorney Program.  Unlike other careers offered under the SHP, Honors Attorneys are not hired under the Pathways Program, and completion of the Honors Attorney Program does not guarantee permanent employment.  Additionally, Honors Attorneys have different training requirements than those in the SHP.

What is required of attorneys hired in the Honors Attorney Program?

As part of the Secretary’s Honors Program, Honors Attorneys are required to complete the OGC orientation training.  Honors Attorney performance is also rated on participation in Program-related events such as meetings, tours, and special assignments.  Honors Attorneys are also required to attend the four-day Homeland Security Law Training Program held at one of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center locations.  There are four opportunities to attend this training over the two-year program, and the Program Manager will work with each Honors Attorney to best accommodate each Honors Attorney’s schedule and OGC’s available funding at the time of the training.  There are other training opportunities available to the Honors Attorneys through the Secretary’s Honors Program, but these opportunities are not requirements.

Does completion of the Honors Attorney Program result in permanent employment?

Honors Attorneys are eligible to apply for permanent positions after 18 months in the Program (under special circumstances, Honors Attorneys may be considered for permanent employment after one year).  Permanent hiring is based upon funding availability and the Honors Attorney’s performance while in the Program.  Since the inception of the Honors Attorney Program, 92 percent of Honors Attorneys who have completed the Program have become permanent employees either at OGC or DHS Component legal offices. 

When Honors Attorneys have the opportunity to apply for a permanent position, are they competing against other external candidates for the same position?

It depends on the position.  Historically, OGC headquarters and component legal offices have placed great value on the Honors Attorney experience, and Honors Attorneys may be given preferential consideration above other candidates due to their participation in the Honors Attorney Program.  Additionally, Honors Attorneys may have access to apply to positions that are only posted internally.  The Honors Attorney program manager will work with the Honors Attorney to assist in finding permanent employment within the Department. 

Is there orientation for Honors Attorneys?

Yes, there is a two-day orientation during which Honors Attorneys meet with representatives from each OGC Headquarters legal division and from component legal offices.  These representatives will describe the functions of their office and answer questions.  There are also several tours throughout the year to visit the operational sites of the components (such as the U.S. Secret Service training site, the Dulles Airport screening center, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Forensic Document Lab, etc.)

Do Honors Attorneys have an opportunity to give their preferences for rotations?

Honors Attorneys provide OGC their preferences for rotations, and OGC tries to accommodate their preferences as best as possible.  Rotations are also based on available funding and each office’s needs.

Can Honors Attorneys stay in one rotation for more than six months?

This is rare, but it may occur depending on the Honors Attorney’s preferences, available funding, and the office’s needs.

Are Honors Attorneys assigned a mentor?

Yes, Honors Attorneys participate in the OGC-wide Mentor Program and are matched with a senior attorney within OGC Headquarters through the Mentor Program. Honors Attorneys are also assigned a point of contact before they arrive at DHS, who will be a current or former Honors Attorney, and an informal mentor at each of their rotation locations.  Additionally, Honors Attorneys will have access to a network of more than 26 former Honors Attorneys employed by DHS.

Do Honors Attorneys get the same types of assignments as other attorneys?

Although each OGC HQ division and component legal office functions differently, Honors Attorneys generally perform the same types of work as attorneys of comparable grade/experience level in that office. Depending on the needs of OGC and/or the Honors Attorney’s supervisors, however, the Honors Attorney may be assigned additional projects or responsibilities.

Last Published Date: August 15, 2014
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