The Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California is accepting applications for a full-time attorney position in its trial unit in Santa Ana, California. The Santa Ana Office represents individuals charged with federal crimes occurring in Orange County. The trial unit is committed to the pursuit of justice by aggressively advocating in federal court for the constitutional rights and inherent dignity of individuals who are accused or convicted of crimes and cannot afford their own lawyer.

Job Duties: Trial attorneys are responsible for aggressively litigating criminal cases in federal court from the client’s initial bail proceedings through jury trial and sentencing. Core job duties include researching and drafting creative, innovative motions; collaborating with a team of investigators, paralegals, and support staff to prepare the client’s case for trial; appearing at all court hearings, including as lead or second-chair in jury trials; visiting the client, including at detention facilities, to review discovery and prepare a defense strategy; and, developing persuasive mitigation for negotiations and sentencing. On occasion, trial attorneys are also assigned appeals and post-conviction matters.

Requirements: All applicants must have graduated from an accredited law school and be members in good standing of the California Bar or must be willing to sit for the next California Bar exam. Preference will be given to applicants with at least three years of experience in state and/or federal criminal law or applicants with federal judicial clerkship experience, but neither is required. Applicants with limited or no prior criminal experience should explain their interest in federal criminal practice in their cover letter.

Selection Criteria: Candidates must have a demonstrated commitment to indigent criminal defense and/or public interest law; must have superior oral and written communication skills; possess excellent research skills; and work well in teams.

A background investigation is required as a condition of employment. In line with current appropriations law, applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents seeking citizenship as described here: Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be requested of the candidate(s) selected for this position. Additional information regarding the office’s vaccine policy will be provided to the selected candidate(s).

Salary/Benefits: This is a full-time, at-will position. Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience and is subject to direct deposit. Benefits include health and life insurance, retirement, and a Thrift Savings Plan. For more information on benefits, see

How to Apply: Apply by emailing a letter of interest, résumé, two representative writing samples (limited to 15 pages each), and three references in a single PDF document to Cuauhtemoc Ortega, Federal Public Defender, at [email protected] with the subject line: SANTA ANA TRIAL ATTORNEY APPLICATION. All application materials must be received by September 23, 2022, however, interviews will occur on a rolling basis and the open position may be filled before that date. The Federal Public Defender’s Office may fill current and future positions from this vacancy announcement. No phone calls please.

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