Research and Writing Attorney

Job Type

Full Time


Minimum: $62,799
Details: Commensurate with experience and within federal guidelines.



Application Deadline



United States


The Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania is seeking a Research and Writing Specialist for its Capital Habeas Unit (CHU). This is a full-time attorney position located in Pittsburgh. The CHU represents death-sentenced state prisoners in federal habeas corpus proceedings in the United States District Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. The Research and Writing Specialist provides assistance to the Assistant Federal Public Defenders.

The Specialist is an active member of the capital habeas team, composed of attorneys, paralegals and investigators. Duties include participation in case strategy development; staying abreast of developments in habeas corpus and criminal procedure; drafting memoranda, motions, petitions and briefs; reviewing and analyzing documents; communicating with the client in person, by phone and mail; and conducting investigations. The Specialist does not ordinarily sign pleadings or make court appearances. Overnight travel may be required.

Applicants must possess a law degree from an accredited law school and be a member in good standing of a state bar. Admission to the Pennsylvania bar is helpful but not required. Applicants must be proficient in legal research and writing, and have a strong commitment to indigent defense. Criminal defense and/or capital experience is preferred, but not required. The successful applicant will be required to undergo a background check. The position is subject to mandatory electronic transfer (direct deposit) for payment of net pay.


This is a full-time position. Salary is based on the Judiciary Salary Plan (JSP Schedule) and is commensurate with experience and within federal guidelines. The position is in the excepted service and does not have the tenure rights of the competitive Civil Service, however, the position does carry regular government employment benefits including health and life insurance, retirement, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Salary will be based on years of experience and consistent with federal guidelines and regulations. This position is subject to mandatory Electronic Funds Transfer (direct deposit) for payment of net pay. The selected candidate will be subject to a background check as a condition of employment. Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or a permanent resident applying for citizenship and eligible to work in the United States.

Level of Language Proficiency

The ability to read, write and translate Spanish is desirable, but not required.

Professional Level

None specified

Minimum Education Required


How To Apply

Qualified persons may apply by submitting a cover letter, resume and writing sample in one Adobe Acrobat document by email to (use Subject Line: 2018-07-CRWS-ID).                        

The Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by law. Only those applicants who are extended an interview will be contacted. No telephone calls, please.