Selection & Eligibility
The FEMA Honors Attorney Program provides challenging professional opportunities for outstanding, third-year law students with a commitment to public service.
During the two-year rotational program in FEMA’s Office of Chief Counsel (OCC), honors attorneys work with various legal divisions within FEMA, gaining exposure to a broad range of substantive legal work as part of a dynamic, collaborative team supporting FEMA’s distinctive emergency management mission.
Successful candidates commit to working for two years in the Honors Program. Honors attorneys will have the opportunity to apply for vacancies upon completion of the program.
Please note: post-program positions are not guaranteed.
2023-2025 Program Now Closed
The next application period will open in early September 2023 for participation in the Program starting the following fall. See the Candidate Selection and Eligibility section. FEMA OCC will host virtual Town Halls next Fall to discuss the Program. Once announced, please email the program for information about these sessions, questions about the application process, or general inquiries about the program.
The Work and Where You Fit
The FEMA Honors Attorney Program gives entry-level attorneys with a demonstrated commitment to academics and public service the opportunity to work on legal issues related to disaster preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery operations as climate change poses significant challenges to the nation.
Honors attorneys will gain vast practical experience unique to government service, while having the honor and privilege of representing the United States government and engaging in public service.
OCC attorneys work in a dynamic environment where we partner closely with our program clients at Headquarters, regional and field offices to provide legally-sufficient and pragmatic solutions to legal, operational, and policy matters in circumstances that are often time-sensitive and involve high-level officials.
FEMA counsel work in a diverse and collaborative environment – leveraging the OCC network of subject-matter counsel and generalists to further a creative, coordinated, and thoughtful approach to emergency management.
OCC engages its employees in professional development and leadership growth opportunities from day one, including:
- FEMA and OCC orientation programs
- Legal subject-matter training
- OCC Mentor Program
- Opportunities to participate in significant legal policy initiatives
- And other professional enrichment activities
The honors attorneys will develop skills in diverse legal practice areas while supporting the emergency management mission of a federal agency.
They will rotate among a selection of legal divisions across FEMA to expand their knowledge and experience.
Specific opportunities include exposure to headquarters perspective and procedures, as well as experience implementing the FEMA programs and legal authorities in support of operations in FEMA regional and disaster field offices.
Participants in the FEMA Honors Attorney Program will have an opportunity to handle a broad variety of assignments from practice areas, such as:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
- Planning, Preparedness, and Federal Grants Management
- Disaster Response and Recovery
- Flood Insurance and Hazard Mitigation
- Environment and Historic Preservation
- Civil Rights
- Personnel Law
- Tort Liability and Litigation
- Privacy and Information Law
- Procurement and Government Contracts
- Fiscal Law
- Regulatory Affairs
Candidate Selection and Eligibility
FEMA is seeking exceptional law school graduates with a passion for a career in public service and interest in emergency management. Eligibility is limited to third-year law students graduating from an ABA accredited law school. Candidates must be U.S. citizens and be able to obtain a Public Trust clearance.
The program is highly selective, and OCC will use a whole-candidate approach to evaluate applicants.
Qualities of competitive candidates include:
- Demonstrated commitment to public service and interest in emergency management
- Distinguished academic record or commensurate achievement (e.g., graduation with honors, high class rank, significant engagement in law review/journal, moot court or law clinic)
- Public interest and professional experience
- Ability to work well both independently and as part of a team
- Ability to adapt quickly to new work environments and in time-sensitive situations
- Excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication, research and analytical skills
- Integrity, judgment, and professionalism
Honors Attorney Program positions are two-year term positions at the IC-11/12 level (GS-11/12 equivalent) and will be located primarily at FEMA Headquarters in Washington D.C.