Assistant Special Counsel

Washington, D.C
Nov 09, 2019
Nov 17, 2019
Full Time


The incumbent reports to the general counsel and assists in facilitating the substantive policy work of the commissioners and the Commission's substantive policy offices and in performing and/or overseeing many of the policy-neutral aspects of the policy development process.

Learn more about this agency


Duties include, but are not limited to:
  • Drafting of preliminary and final sentencing guidelines, commentary, and policy statements during the amendment cycle, which includes assisting commissioners and staff in objectively analyzing the effects of alternative guideline proposals.
  • Preparing and ensuring the technical accuracy of guideline amendments adopted by the Commission for submission to Congress.
  • Preparing and ensuring the technical accuracy of each edition of the Guidelines Manual and Appendices.
  • Drafting Federal Register notices.
  • Drafting legislative proposals for commissioners and staff, or as a service to requesting members of Congress.
  • Assisting the general counsel, as requested, in providing legislative and parliamentary advice to commissioners and staff.
  • Assisting the general counsel, as requested, in the drafting of internal Commission rules or procedures, and Commission human resources and other policies.
  • Providing policy-neutral information to, and briefing of, the commissioners, the staff director, the office directors and other staff, on policy development initiatives as requested.
  • Facilitating the work of policy development teams and performing other liaison duties as requested by the general counsel.
  • Providing guidance on technical aspects of the guidelines.
  • Preparing, assembling, and distributing meeting materials.
  • Preparing items for the Annual Report, appropriations summaries, and any other materials relating to guideline amendments and other policy initiatives.

Travel Required

Occasional travel - You may be expected to travel for this position.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

Applicants must have demonstrated work experience related to the mandatory requirements listed below and must address the qualification requirements in an attached cover letter.
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills.
  • Working knowledge of federal lawmaking, rulemaking, and policymaking, including thorough understanding of the legislative process; ability to research and analyze case law and legislative history; and familiarity with such topics as statutory interpretation, parliamentary procedure, and administrative law.
  • Ability to analyze, understand and convey to others the effect of proposed legislation.
  • Ability to maintain effective working relationships with agency staff at all levels as well as with key individuals in a variety of other federal organizations and interest groups.
  • Knowledge of or experience in governmental organizations, including the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government.
  • Ability to handle multiple priorities and meet deadlines. Technical abilities, such as computer experience and knowledge of software applications used to conduct research.


  • Applicants must have a law degree (JD) from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.
  • Membership of the bar of a state, territory, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a federal court of general jurisdiction.
  • Practical experience in drafting legislation, rules, regulations, or policies.
  • To be considered at the GS-14 level, applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-13 in the federal service.
  • To be considered at the GS-13 level, applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-12 in the federal service.


The following is strongly preferred:
  • Hill experience, preferably with criminal and sentencing policy issues.

In addition, preference will be given to applicants who have one or more of the following qualifications:
  • Experience in litigating at the trial or appellate levels.
  • Experience as a state appellate law clerk or federal judicial law clerk.
  • Outstanding academic credentials and/or law review or moot court experience.
  • Publications in a law review or other legal publication.
  • Knowledge of the federal criminal justice system and the federal sentencing guidelines.
  • Experience with federal criminal and sentencing policy issues.
  • Significant writing and editing experience, whether legal or non-legal.


Applicants must have a law degree (JD) from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

Additional information

The Commission participates in the following federal benefits: The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program; the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program, federal retirement, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and the federal leave program. In addition, the Commission participates in the Judiciary's Flexible Spending Program for dependent care, health care, and commuter reimbursement, the Judiciary's Long Term Care Program or government-wide Long Term Care Insurance Program, unemployment, and workers' compensation benefits.

The Commission offers a monthly transit subsidy to employees who use mass transit to commute to and from work, subject to the availability of funds. The Commission offers alternative work schedules (AWS), which are fixed work schedules that enable full-time employees to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays.

The Commission offers limited regular telework (not full-time) to employees in positions deemed eligible by the staff director and who meet the requirements of an approved telework arrangement in which an employee performs official duties at home or at an approved telework center. New employees are generally not eligible for telework during their first year of employment. Applicant must relocate to the Washington DC Metropolitan area.

The Commission also offers training opportunities to employees through LinkedIn Learning, and the Judiciary and Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) Online University (JOU Online University), which offers academic credit and professional credit programs through web-based learning. This online training tool assists employees of the Commission with taking online courses in a flexible way, by offering training courses in the areas of: staff training and development; credit toward undergraduate degree programs; continuing education and non-credit certificate programs; executive education; contract training; credit credentials courses for continuing professional education and credit for individuals who hold credentials and achieve certifications associated with several globally-recognized sponsored organizations.

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

The Commission evaluates applicants through a structured interview. Applicants may also be screened for some jobs through a narrative/application review, and/or a preliminary telephone interview. Applicants who do not address the qualification requirements (mandatory and preferred) in his or her application materials as stated in the vacancy announcement are automatically disqualified from consideration and must re-apply before the closing date to be considered for employment.

The Office of Human Resources:
  • Reviews the applicant's application to ensure the proper materials are submitted.
  • Ensures that the application addresses all of the qualification requirements (mandatory and preferred) as stated in the vacancy announcement.
  • Determines whether the applicant meets the qualification requirements for the particular position and notifies the applicant about the status of his or her application.
Applicants who meet the mandatory qualification requirements will be considered and their application materials will be forwarded to the screening panel for review. Applicants who do not meet the mandatory qualification requirements for the position are automatically disqualified from consideration. In addition, some applicants may be tested using various assessment tools not listed on the vacancy announcement to verify an applicant's experience, knowledge, and training directly related to the job in order to identify the best qualified applicants for consideration and selection.

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Required Documents

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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