Termed Research and Writing Attorney - Federal Public Defender

The Federal Public Defender, Northern District of California is accepting applications for a termed, full-time Research & Writing Specialist (“R&W Attorney”). This position will begin upon hire date and will end September 30, 2018. The Defender operates under the authority of the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3006A, to provide defense services in federal criminal cases. More information about the office may be found at

JOB DESCRIPTION: Duties include providing support to the Federal Defender and Assistant Federal Public Defenders through legal research and writing. The R&W Attorney will research and draft appellate briefs and habeas petitions, assist in briefing pretrial and in limine motions, draft proposed jury instructions, research and draft legal arguments for sentencing memoranda, and will provide other assistance to trial counsel. The Research and Writing Attorney is not authorized to appear in court on behalf of the client.


  • Be a law school graduate and member of the State Bar of California, another State Bar, or the Bar of the District of Columbia;
  • Have the ability to identify and analyze legal issues from lengthy and complex records;
  • Write clearly and concisely;
  • Possess excellent research skills;
  •  Possess demonstrated expertise in computer-assisted legal research;
  • Have demonstrated experience analyzing complex federal criminal law and sentencing issues;
  • Be proficient in Microsoft Word 2013 or Word 2016.

This is a full-time termed position. Salary is based on the Judicial Salary Plan and is commensurate with experience. The position is subject to mandatory electronic fund transfer (direct deposit) for payment of salary. This position is subject to an FBI fingerprint check and background investigation. Employment will be provisional and contingent upon the satisfactory completion of the required investigation.

Please note that attorneys at the office of the Federal Public Defender may not engage in the private practice of law. 


Applications will be available until the position filled. Applications will only be accepted online, and must be submitted through this site:

In addition to the background information requested at this application site, please prepare and upload an application packet. This application packet should include in a single .pdf file, in this order:

  •  A plain face sheet containing only your last name, first name, and the name of your employer or your current employment status. This information should be centered on the page and should be at least size 40 font;
  •  A cover letter;
  • Your resume;
  • A writing sample of your own, original work; and
  • Three references. (References will not be contacted until applicant is advised).

The uploaded .pdf file should be named, “Last name, first name.” (E.g., “Doe, Jane.pdf”)

Candidates will be evaluated on their accurate compliance with these application instructions.

Applicants invited to interview will be asked to complete a Judicial Branch Employment form (AO78). Applications submitted by fax, mail, or email will not be considered.

Applicants will only be contacted if selected for an interview. The position will remain open until filled by the Federal Public Defender.