Career Alternatives, Department of Justice, Federal Government, Job Searches

News You Can Use: Federal Government Job Opportunities
And Open Thread: DOJ Honors Interview Decisions

Or maybe news you could have used. Apologies for not reminding you, as we’ve done in past years, about the application deadline for the Department of Justice’s Honors Program. The application deadline for the 2010-2011 program fell on September 7, 2010. [FN1]

(If you’re not already familiar with how the Honors Program works, read our prior post or visit the official DOJ website. The short description: “The highly competitive Honors Program is the only way that the Department hires entry-level attorneys.” Most applicants to the program are 3Ls and judicial law clerks.)

Yesterday, if you checked the DOJ website, you could find out whether you were selected for an interview (although you couldn’t tell which DOJ component had selected you). This morning, official interview notifications went out to selected candidates. To those of you selected for interviews, congratulations! Feel free to crow about your success or trade tips with other interviewees in the comments to this open thread.

Getting picked for an Honors Program interview is quite an accomplishment, especially given the still-tough legal job market and the many 3Ls and law clerks searching for jobs. Word on the street is that the DOJ received 3,000 applications for an estimated 160 vacancies in the Honors Program. Says a source: “[T]hat’s nearly 20 applicants per position. Which is actually pretty low by comparison with clerkship apps, I bet, but still daunting.”

If you didn’t get selected for an interview, or if you missed the application deadline altogether, don’t despair. Here’s another opportunity for graduating law students who are interested in working for the federal government. And the deadline has not yet passed — but it’s fast approaching….

It’s a program called the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, and it’s open to graduating law students. The application period opens on October 1 and closes on October 15 — but there’s a “nomination process” that requires your law school to get involved, so if you’re interested, you should get moving now. You can learn all about how to apply over here.

We wrote about the PMF program last year, in a detailed post outlining the program’s advantages and disadvantages — and some of you landed positions as a result of reading our coverage. Here’s what one grateful correspondent wrote to us:

I was one of apparently thousands of unemployed 3Ls who read your September 30, 2009 post about the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program and decided to apply. I ended up becoming a finalist and accepting a job that I got through the program.

I figured I should pay you guys back (and maybe help some current 3Ls) by telling you a bit about my experience as a JD student in the PMF process, in case you guys want to do another story about the PMF program this September.

As you know, you take a test, the top 800 or so people on the test become finalists, the finalists are invited to a job fair, and some people then get jobs.

At the 2010 job fair, a lot of interviewers seemed disappointed that so many of the finalists were law students. They would have preferred finalists with specialized degrees in whatever their agency does. However, with one exception, all of my interviewers seemed to accept at least the possibility that law school might have taught me a skill or two that would come in handy to them: usually the ability to write and research.

At my agency, PMFs were traditionally MBA or finance types. Class of 2009 PMFs or former, now-permanent PMFs that I run into are generally of this background. But PMFs in my class are largely JDs. This suggests that there was a sudden, recent shift in the makeup of PMF finalists.

On the job, there are frequent jokes about how all of the new PMFs are lawyers. Sometimes supervisors will complain (in good fun) about this. But I haven’t seen any actual anti-JD discrimination. I’ve accepted government bureaucracy as my true calling and haven’t taken the bar; many other PMFs have taken the bar and still hold out hope of some legal career.

Let me close with some figures. This is all public information from the PMF website which, to my horror, lists every single finalist, along with his or her school and his or her job status.

Over 8,000 people took the 2009 PMF exam; of these, 884 became “finalists,” invited to the job fair in April. Of these, 529 obtained jobs and are now Presidential Management Fellows; 56 withdrew from consideration, and 299 didn’t find jobs.

Overall, 60% of finalists found jobs. The rate for JDs was a bit lower — about 53% of finalists with JDs found jobs. 299 finalists were JDs, 161 found jobs, 112 didn’t, and 26 withdrew.

We thank our correspondent for this information — and hope it proves helpful to at least some jobless 3Ls. To everyone applying to the DOJ Honors Program and the Presidential Management Fellowship program, we wish you the best of luck.

[FN1] For those of you who will be eligible for the 2011-2012 DOJ Honors Program — click here for the eligibility requirements, which vary depending on your educational or employment status — treat this post as a super-early reminder for the 2011 deadline. Add a reminder to your Outlook or Google calendar NOW, for next year. The deadline will probably fall in early September 2011, so maybe set the reminder for early August 2011. The early bird gets the worm!

The Attorney General’s Honors Program [U.S. Department of Justice]

Earlier: Another Federal Government Opportunity: The Presidential Management Fellows Program
DOJ Honors Program Interview Invites Are Out
Reminder: DOJ Honors Program Applications Are Almost Due

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