Federal Government Honors Programs & Fellowships

Federal Government Honors Programs & Fellowships

Federal Government Attorney Honors/Summer Honors Program Basics:
Most federal government agencies, with a few exceptions, hire entry- level attorneys only through their own competitive “Attorney Honors Fellowship Programs.”  Postings announcing Attorney Honors Program openings are typically available on the agency specific websites, on USAjobs.gov, and are consolidated and tracked in the Government Honors and Internship Handbook prepared by The Arizona University James E. Rogers College of Law (the “Arizona Guide”).  The Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) subscribes to the Arizona Guide and all Pace Law students can access the Guide with our username and password. Current students should consult the CCPD and PILC page on Classes to find login information. The Public Interest Law Center (PILC) sends out reminders about select upcoming deadlines throughout the year, but interested students should very regularly check the Arizona Guide.

Important Information about Early Deadlines:
The application process for some federal government attorney and summer honors programs will open over the summer and have deadlines as early as mid-summer or September, a full year before the start date.  Therefore, rising third-year full-time (fourth-year part-time) law students who are interested in obtaining a post-graduate position in a federal government attorney honors program should begin looking into opportunities early in the summer before their final year. Note, also, that some federal agencies offering these programs review applications on a rolling basis, so applying early can give you a distinct advantage for some.

Specifically, the application process for some of the most popular programs - for example those offered by the US Department of Justice (the DOJ Attorney General (Post-Grad) Honors and Summer Honors Programs), certain programs within the Environmental Protection Agency, the Housing and Urban Development Corporation, the Department of Transportation, Department of Interior, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to name a few - often open mid-summer and will have deadlines as early as July through October.  

What to Do:

  • Review agency websites of interest and the “Arizona Guide” to learn which federal agencies typically offer post-graduate attorney honors fellowships/programs and become aware of upcoming or, if not yet updated, last year’s application deadlines and requirements. The current Guide is and will be continuously updated as new deadlines become available.
  • Regularly review any reminder emails from the PILC/CCPD; forwarding your Pace Law email to another account that you check more regularly over the summer if necessary.
  • Research agencies/programs of interest and create a spreadsheet of deadlines/application requirements. 
  • Contact Elyse Diamond ediamond@law.pace.edu with questions and work with PILC/CCPD counselors on application materials; collect supplemental materials including transcripts, writing samples, and references.
  • Access, begin working on, and submit honors program applications by applicable deadlines (or as soon as possible when the application process opens – some of these agencies review applications on a rolling basis).
  • Contact Professor Diamond to arrange a mock interview if you are invited to interview.

The Presidential Management Post-Graduate Fellowship Program Basics:
The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is the federal government’s flagship two-year leadership development program designed to attract entry-level advanced (graduate level) degree candidates into federal government agencies in management and policy-oriented positions. It was created more than three decades ago by Executive Order, has gone through many changes over the years, and  also permits recent graduates to apply.

The Program attracts and selects candidates from all graduate disciplines with a current emphasis on students who are first generation professional (first in their family to obtain a graduate degree) as well as students trained in STEM fields, but it is open to all disciplines including law students– it is not designed specifically to attract law students/graduates and was really created with a specific focus; developing potential government leaders.  Traditional attorney positions are not offered through the PMF program (hiring for entry level attorney positions continues to take place primarily through agency specific post-graduate attorney honors programs/fellowships), however, law graduates interested in federal government management, public policy, and other related positions are welcome to apply.

Basics about the Application Process and Timeline:
The PMF Application generally opens in the fall, September or October, and closes just a few weeks later. The application is accessible via www.pmf.gov. The PMF website has detailed application information including an updated PMF Applicant Handbook. In addition, please review the Eligibility, Application Process, Assessment Process, and FAQs webpages for additional information about the application and how to prepare for it. Haub Law has had PMF Semi-Finalists and Finalists and, in some years, has had graduates selected as PMF Fellows.  We are happy to work with students on their application materials and at all stages of the application/assessment and interviewing process. Feel free to contact Elyse (ediamond@law.pace.edu) over the summer or in the early fall to express your interest in the program.