Find questions and answers to some of the most frequently asked about the Honors Attorney Program along with other helpful information interested individuals.
Cover letters should be addressed to:
Honors Attorney Program Manager
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of the General Counsel
No. You must apply to the Honors Program during your third year in law school (or fourth year for evening students) or from a judicial clerkship immediately following graduation from law school. If you are not eligible for the Honors Attorney Program, DHS (including ICE's Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) periodically posts vacancy announcements for available attorney positions online through USAJOBS.
While there is no page limit to your resume, we receive a high volume 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.
We appreciate demonstrated interest in the DHS mission, but this is not required, and can come in various forms. When reviewing applications, we consider all prior work and academic experience.
Only judicial clerkships count for post-J.D. work eligibility. A paid legal clerk or 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.
We do not accept application materials after the application deadline. If you believe that your materials do not accurately reflect your candidacy and must be updated, you may do so only until the application deadline. Otherwise, if you are selected for an interview, you can provide additional information to the interviewer(s) at that time.
OGC HQ Honors Attorneys are required to complete the OGC orientation training and generally also attend the four-day Homeland Security Law Training Program held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers in Glynco, Georgia. 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 Honors Attorneys, but these opportunities are not requirements.
Honors Attorneys who participate in the OGC Headquarters option are eligible to apply for permanent positions after 18 months in the program (in some circumstances, Honors Attorneys may be considered for permanent employment after a shorter time). 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 sought a permanent position within the department have become permanent employees either at OGC Headquarters 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 generally work with the Honors Attorney to assist in finding permanent employment within the Department.
Honors Attorneys participating in the OGC Headquarters option provide OGC their preferences for rotations, and OGC tries to accommodate their preferences to the extent possible. Rotations are also based on available funding and each office’s needs.
Honors Attorneys participating in the ICE OPLA program are also asked for location preferences, and the OPLA program manager works to accommodate these preferences, to the extent possible given funding and hiring needs.
Yes, all OGC Headquarters Honors Attorneys participate in the OGC-wide Mentor Program and are matched with an OGC Headquarters or component attorney through the Mentor Program. ICE OPLA Honors Attorneys are encouraged to participate in the ICE and/or OGC-wide Mentor Programs. All Honors Attorneys are also typically assigned an informal mentor at each of their rotation locations. Additionally, Honors Attorneys become a part of a broad network of current and former Honors Attorneys across the Department.
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, with a goal of exposing the Honors Attorney to the full range of legal issues their assigned office handles.
Because each office and component are different, there is no 'typical day' for an Honors Attorney broadly. Some offices are more fast-paced and deadline-driven, for example, while others involve projects on lengthier timelines.
Honors Attorneys in the OPLA program can expect several days in court per week. Honors Attorneys are given a significant amount of responsibility early in their careers, and can expect to handle a wide variety of legal issues.