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Federal Honors Programs
Aug 10, 2023

Published on behalf of NALP's Public Service Section by Katherine Mikkelson, Assistant Director, Office of Career and Professional Development, UNT Dallas College of Law; and M. Teresa Schmiedeler, Director, Public Service Programs & Outreach at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

Interested in post-graduate employment opportunities with the federal government? Please consider Federal Honors Programs for new attorneys.

First step:

Make an appointment with a professional career counselor at your law school to discuss opportunities in the federal government. Start planning early!

Key Resources:

Application Tips:

  • Carefully review eligibility criteria for opportunities.

  • Allow plenty of time to put application materials together.

  • Please mind the DEADLINES- all are very strict and some are quite early in the summer or early fall.

  • Demonstrate how you are interested in the mission/work of the agency with prior experience including internships.

  • Be aware of the nature of the work of the agency. Do not express interest in litigation if the position is seeking a candidate with transactional experience.

Webinars & Informational Sessions

Participate and join any agency webinars and career panel programs. For example, U.S. Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) host webinars and participate in informational sessions for interested candidates. Make time to attend and ask your questions!

Be CURIOUS and gain information to compliment your own research! Schedule a career counseling appointment.

Federal Honors Programs

  • U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Attorney General’s Honors Program, is the most well known and a highly competitive and popular entry-level program program.

  • Please consider applying to DOJ but also, consider additional federal agencies to expand and tailor your job search to forge your own pathway.

Agencies to Start With

Some federal agencies you might consider and explore include but are not limited to:

Finally, there’s the U.S. Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF). It isn’t an honors program, but it similarly is an entry-level pathway into the federal government. Applications are typically due in fall semester; the application process involves an initial application process. Selected finalists have an established time period to secure an employment appointment to a participating federal agency.

Important Reminder:

Meet with your law school career counselor to craft a public service job search, discuss the application process, and identify federal agencies and opportunities.

Law school professional career counselors will review application materials, conduct mock interviews and best position you to impress employers.