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Honors Attorney FAQs

Find questions and answers to some of the most frequently asked about the Honors Attorney Program along with other helpful information interested individuals.

You may address your cover letter to:

Program Manager
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of the General Counsel
2707 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE
Washington, D.C. 20528-0485

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. If you are not eligible for the Honors Program, DHS periodically posts vacancy announcements for available Attorney-Advisor positions online through USAJOBS.

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

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.

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

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.

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

No, you are not eligible to apply.

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 received after the deadline will not be considered.

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.

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.

Honors Attorneys who participate in the National Capital Region (“NCR”) Program 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, the vast majority of Honors Attorneys who have completed the Program and desired a permanent position within the department have become permanent employees either at OGC or DHS Component legal offices.

Honors Attorneys participating in the ICE OPLA program will be hired into permanent positions. All permanent positions with the Department are subject to probation periods and other requirements.

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 viewed favorably 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.

Honors Attorneys participating in the NCR Program 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.

Honors Attorneys participating in the ICE OPLA pilot program will be placed in an ICE field office location and may have the opportunity to work in another DHS component office during the Program, resources permitting.

Yes, all Honors Attorneys participate in the OGC-wide Mentor Program and are matched with an OGC Headquarters or component attorney through the Mentor Program. Honors Attorneys generally are also assigned an informal mentor at each of their rotation locations. Additionally, Honors Attorneys will have access to a network of former Honors Attorneys.

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 Updated: 08/25/2022
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