Just a friendly reminder to our 3L and law clerk readers: if you’re interested in the Honors Program of the U.S. Department of Justice, you need to submit your application materials very soon — about a week from now. (And note that the Labor Day holiday falls during this period, which could affect your ability to obtain transcripts or contact references.)
We wish you good luck — because you’ll definitely need it….
The 2012 Honors Program, which is now accepting applications, is going to be significantly smaller than Honors Programs of recent years. It appears that about 70-75 positions will be available — compared to 165-171 for the 2011 Honors Program and 126-136 for the 2010 Honors Program.
As you can see in this chart (scroll down), some components are not hiring any Honors Program lawyers for the class of 2012. They include such impressive sections as Civil Rights, Tax, and the Solicitor General’s Office.
No need to be so alarmed, DOJ will be hiring again someday, and yes, it is possible to join the department without being in the Honors Program. (If anything, DOJ is late to the party — the year I graduated, the Philly DA’s office withdrew 100% of the offers they had made to incoming new grads — the market for public sector lawyers has been contracting for a long time now.)
Also, let’s not forget the fate of more-senior lawyers who are interested in government service. From a second commenter:
I agree that what’s happening over at DOJ is awful, but I’m tired of the handwringing on behalf of law students in particular. MANY of us who want into the federal government, at all levels, are shut out — and many of us would bring far more to the DOJ than untrained newbies straight out of law school. In fact, I would find it rather offensive if the Civil Rights Division was opening its doors to baby lawyers while shutting out experienced hires who could bring several years of relevant civil rights practice experience to the table.
It’s tough out there for everyone. But as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
So send in those Honors Program applications, without delay. Good luck.