Trial Attorney - Environmental Defense

Washington, D.C
Sep 18, 2020
Sep 26, 2020
Full Time


The Environmental Defense Section ("EDS" or "Section") represents the United States in complex civil litigation arising under a broad range of environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act; Clean Water Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; Toxic Substances Control Act; Safe Drinking Water Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

Learn more about this agency


EDS is one of the only sections in the Department of Justice's Main-Justice components whose attorneys routinely handle cases in both federal courts of appeals and district courts, as well as both affirmative and defensive litigation. EDS defends rules and permits issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, defends the United States on claims brought pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, and handles claims of liability against federal agencies under the pollution control laws, such as for costs of response actions at Superfund sites, federally-owned facilities and private sites. The Section also enforces the Clean Water Act against those who fill wetlands and other regulated waters.

Section attorneys are responsible for all aspects of complex litigation. This includes pre-trial tasks up to and through trial, such as preparation and filing of dispositive motions, drafting merits briefs, written and document discovery, taking and defending expert and fact witness depositions, presenting oral argument in court, handling witnesses at trial and other evidentiary hearings, and negotiating settlements. Section attorneys also defend cases seeking review of regulatory actions by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the D.C. Circuit and other federal courts. Cases range from simpler, single-attorney matters to representing federal agencies in complex disputes under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") and other pollution control statutes. EDS cases present attorneys with the opportunity to regularly appear in district or appellate courts, to argue cases in the D.C. Circuit or other courts of appeals, and to periodically try cases or handle other evidentiary proceedings.

For more information about the Environmental Defense Section, visit /

Travel Required

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

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or national.
  • You must complete a background investigation to include pre-employment drug testing.
  • Selective Service Registration is required, as applicable.
  • You must maintain a bank account for direct deposit of salary.


The Section's docket is demanding and requires top caliber work products. Successful applicants will have a demonstrated record of outstanding legal writing, complex case management, initiative and creativity, strong courtroom skills, and a commitment to the highest ethical and professional standards.

Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar (any jurisdiction), and be a U.S. citizen or national. The ideal candidate should possess an excellent academic record and strong analytical, writing and advocacy skills. The ideal candidate should also have a comprehensive understanding of environmental law and federal civil procedure, excellent interpersonal skills, and the ability to work effectively in a team environment.

Specific grade level requirements:
  • At least 4 years of post J.D. relevant civil/environmental litigation experience to qualify for the GS-14 grade level.
  • At least 5 years of post J.D. relevant civil/environmental litigation experience to qualify for the GS-15 grade level.

Current salary and years of experience will determine the appropriate salary level. The possible salary range is:
  • GS-14 ($121,316 - $157,709)
  • GS-15 ($142,701 - $170,800)

Only experience and education obtained by the closing date of this announcement will be considered.


All academic degrees and coursework must be completed at a college or university that has obtained accreditation or pre-accreditation status from an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. For a list of schools that meet this criteria, see

Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet the above education requirements if you can show that the foreign education is comparable to that received in an accredited educational institution in the United States. It is your responsibility to timely provide such evidence by submitting proof of creditability of education as evaluated by a credentialing agency with your application materials. More information may be found at

All documentation must be in English or include an English translation.

Additional information

Veterans Preference: If you are entitled to or claim veteran preference (VP), you should indicate the type of veteran preference (5 or 10 points) you are claiming on your resume. In order To determine your eligibility, you can find additional information at: . To verify your veteran preference entitlement, submit a copy of the Member Copy 4 of your DD-214; official statement of service from your command if you are currently on active duty; or other official documentation (e.g., documentation of receipt of a campaign badge or expeditionary medal) that shows your military service was performed under honorable conditions.

Schedule A: DOJ welcomes and encourages applications from persons with disabilities and is firmly committed to satisfying its affirmative obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to ensure that persons with disabilities have every opportunity to be hired and advanced on the basis of merit within the Department. DOJ also encourages eligible Schedule A applicants to submit their resumes to, and reference "Federal Career Opportunities" in the subject line. Additional information is found at:

Selective Service: If you are a male applicant born after December 31, 1959, you must certify that you have registered with the Selective Service System, or are exempt from having to do so under the Selective Service Law. Additional information is found at: .

Suitability and Citizenship: It is the policy of the Department to achieve a drug-free workplace and persons selected for employment will be required to pass a drug test which screens for illegal drug use prior to final appointment. Employment is also contingent upon the completion and satisfactory adjudication of a background investigation. Only U.S. citizens are eligible for employment with the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the United States Attorneys' Offices. Unless otherwise indicated in a particular job advertisement, non-U.S. Citizens may apply for employment with other organizations, but should be advised that appointments of non-U.S. Citizens are extremely rare; such appointments would be possible only if necessary to accomplish the Department's mission and would be subject to strict security requirements. Applicants who hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and another country will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Benefits: DOJ offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes, in part, paid vacation; sick leave; holidays; telework; life insurance; health benefits; and participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System. Please review the link below for an overview of the benefits currently offered to Federal employees.

Please Note : Additional candidates may be selected if more positions become available in the Division within 90 days after the announcement closes.

How You Will Be Evaluated

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

You will be evaluated based on your qualifications for this position as evidenced by the experience you report relative to this position.

Veterans : There is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Department of Justice considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans' preference must include that information in their cover letter or resume and attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation) to their submissions.

Although the "point" system is not used, per se, applicants eligible to claim 10-point preference must submit Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and submit the supporting documentation required for the specific type of preference claimed (visit the OPM website, for a copy of SF 15, which lists the types of 10-point preferences and the required supporting document(s). Applicants should note that SF 15 requires supporting documentation associated with service-connected disabilities or receipt of nonservice-connected disability pensions to be dated 1991 or later except in the case of service members submitting official statements or retirement orders from a branch of the Armed Forces showing that his or her retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that he/she was transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Position sensitivity and risk
Moderate Risk (MR)

Trust determination process

Required Documents

  • Resumé demonstrating relevant experience and month/year employment dates the experience was obtained
  • Cover letter highlighting relevant litigation, environmental law, and legal writing (No more than 2 pages)
  • Short writing sample from an advocacy piece (5-10 pages)
  • OF-306, Declaration of Employment (Signed on line 17a)
  • Law school transcript showing proof of J.D. or higher
  • DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation, as applicable.
Your resumé MUST include full employment information such as periods of employment with month/year started and ended, title of position(s), FT or PT hours worked, and description of duties. If you have Federal employment, you must list the grade of the position(s).

Do not include the following types of information in your profile or resume:
  • Classified or government sensitive information
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Photos of yourself
  • Personal information, such as age, gender, religious affiliation, etc.
  • Encrypted and digitally signed documents

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