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SOL Honors Program

Honors Program
Office of the Solicitor
U.S. Department of Labor


The Honors Program in the Office of the Solicitor (SOL) at the U.S. Department of Labor provides challenging professional opportunities for outstanding law school graduates. Honors Program attorneys work with the ten divisions of the Solicitor’s Office, gaining exposure to a broad range of substantive legal work in one of the government’s preeminent legal offices. Upon completion of the two-year program, Honors Program attorneys continue their careers in public service in one of the Solicitor’s national or regional offices.

WHO WE ARE

The Office of the Solicitor serves as the legal counsel for the U.S. Department of Labor. The approximately 550 attorneys in SOL enforce and interpret occupational and mine safety and health laws, civil rights laws, pension and health benefit laws, minimum wage and overtime requirements, whistleblower protections, and international labor standards. SOL also provides legal services to programs that pay Federal benefits to the victims of occupational diseases and accidents, provide grants in support of employment and training programs, and administer unemployment benefits. In all, SOL is responsible for the legal work under more than 180 labor and employment laws.

About half of SOL's attorneys serve in the National Office in Washington, D.C. and the remainder work in one of the 14 regional and branch offices across the country. Those offices are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland, Denver, Nashville, Los Angeles and Arlington, Virginia.

SOL has more independent litigating authority than virtually any other cabinet department outside the Justice Department. Every day, SOL attorneys represent the Secretary of Labor in proceedings before federal district courts, federal courts of appeals, and administrative law judges. SOL attorneys also play a leading role in important and high-profile federal rulemakings and policy decisions.

THE WORK OF AN HONORS PROGRAM ATTORNEY

Attorneys in the Honors Program who are located in the National Office will spend their first two years in SOL handling a broad variety of assignments from all divisions in the National Office. Past Honors attorneys have:

    • Argued cases in federal courts of appeals on pension and wage and hour law
    • Drafted critical new mine safety regulations
    • Participated in negotiations regarding international trade and labor law
    • Advised the Department on conducting effective occupational safety investigations
    • Prepared the Department for litigation against contractors with discriminatory hiring practices
    • Arbitrated and resolved internal union grievances and ensured the legitimacy of labor union elections
    • Issued enforcement recommendations to protect whistleblowers
    • Assisted in litigation to recover misappropriated employee retirement funds

Want to Know More?

Learn what the current Honors attorney class had to say about their experience:

May 2012 FRANCES E-MAGAZINE: Ahead Hunting For Law Grads, the Pipeline to Labor

Honors attorneys may also receive assignments from SOL's Regional Offices, which typically involve trial work, including discovery, brief writing, and oral argument. After the first nine months in the program, Honors attorneys begin a series of 90-day rotations to various SOL divisions in the National Office. National Office Honors attorneys may also volunteer to work in a Regional Office for one of their rotations.

SOL also hires Honors attorneys into SOL's Regional Offices. The focus of the regional Honors Program is developing an attorney's skills as a trial litigator under all the statutes commonly enforced by the Department of Labor. Receiving guidance from experienced courtroom lawyers, a regional Honors Program attorney will typically carry a varied caseload from beginning to end: analyzing an investigative file, filing a complaint, engaging in negotiations and discovery, preparing briefs and arguing motions, and serving as lead counsel in cases that go to trial. Regional Honors attorneys have:

    • Provided pre-litigation advice to client agencies in significant cases
    • Filed complaints in federal district court to recover employees’ benefits and wages under pension and wage and hour laws
    • Appeared before administrative law judges in cases involving Occupational Safety and Health and Mine Safety and Health laws

Honors attorneys located in Regional Offices also will receive select assignments from the National Office divisions to complement their trial work or to expose them to practice areas usually handled by the National Office. Funding permitting, these attorneys will travel to the National Office in Washington, D.C. to participate with their National Office colleagues in training and networking opportunities. Regional Office Honors attorneys may also volunteer to rotate to the National Office for a temporary assignment, usually lasting about three months.

After two years, Honors attorneys will be permanently placed in a specific office in SOL. All efforts will be made to accommodate attorneys' preferences, consistent with the needs of the Department. This placement may be in either a National Office division or a Regional Office.

The Honors Program gives attorneys a unique opportunity to help interpret and enforce a broad range of labor and employment laws while working in one of the largest legal offices in the Federal government. Honors attorneys will gain a broad knowledge of labor and employment matters that would be difficult to obtain in years of private practice, and will share the honor and privilege of representing the United States Government and engaging in public service. We invite you to apply.

RECRUITING FOR FALL 2014

The Department currently plans to hire up to ten attorneys to begin the Honors Program in the Fall of 2014. The program is recruiting attorneys to work in the SOL National Office and SOL Regional Offices.

Applicants must graduate from law school in Spring/Summer 2014 or be finishing a judicial clerkship in time to start the Honors Program in September 2014. Selection is highly competitive, and candidates will be considered based on academic achievement, writing skills, law review and/or moot court experience, clinic or extracurricular activities, as well as demonstrated interest in government service or public interest law.

DIVERSITY POLICY

The Department of Labor's mission is to promote the welfare of wage earners, job seekers, and retirees, to improve working conditions, to advance opportunities for profitable employment, and to ensure work-related benefits and rights. Honors attorneys play a crucial role in enabling the Department to carry out its mission. Like the Department, the Honors Program is more effective when its workforce includes highly qualified individuals whose backgrounds reflect our nation's richly diverse workforce.

The Honors Program endeavors to recruit, hire, promote, and retain a diverse class of Honors attorneys each year. The Honors Program defines diversity as the unique perspectives candidates bring to the program, including, but not limited to, national origin, language, race, color, ethnicity, disability, gender and gender identity, age, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, veteran status, family structure, geographical background, education, and professional experience.

HOW TO APPLY

To apply, please submit the following:

    1. cover letter describing the applicant's interest in the Honors Program as well as any personal or professional experience the applicant wishes the Hiring Committee to consider;
    2. resume;
    3. writing sample; and
    4. official or unofficial law school transcript.

The program will begin accepting applications on July 1, 2013. Applications must be received by October 11, 2013.

Please mail, e-mail, or fax the required materials to:

Director, The Honors Attorney Program
U.S. Department of Labor
Office of the Solicitor, Room N-2700
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210
Fax: (202) 693-5774
E-mail: SOLHonorsProgramApplications@dol.gov

Veterans' Preference Eligibility and Attorney Hiring: Attorney appointments within SOL's Honors Program are positions in the excepted service, not the competitive civil service, and there is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to appointments in the excepted service. SOL nonetheless considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. If you have veterans' preference eligibility, please note that information in your cover letter or resume, and include documentation of that eligibility with your submission.

Equal Employment Opportunity: Applications will be considered without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, marital status, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or any other non-merit factor.

The Department of Labor provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. If you need an accommodation for any part of the submission, application or hiring process, please make this request in your cover letter. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.