The Bar News

Federal Courts have opening for Pro Se Law Clerk in Southern Illinois

Position: Pro Se Law Clerk, Temporary
Vacancy Announcement Number: 2011-06
Location: East St. Louis, Illinois
Starting Salary Range: $47,448 (JSP 9/1) to $96,690 (JSP 14/1), depending on qualifications
Date Posted: October 13, 2011
Closing Date: November 4, 2011

Position Summary
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois is seeking a full-time temporary Pro Se Law Clerk for the East St. Louis and Benton courthouses. This temporary position is for a 2 year term. The Pro Se Law Clerk provides legal advice and assistance to the court in connection with prisoner petitions and complaints.

Summary of Representative Duties and Responsibilities
Performs substantive screening before and after the filing of all prisoner petitions and motions, including state habeas corpus petitions, motions to vacate sentence, and civil rights complaints; reviews all complaints, petitions, and pleadings that have been filed to identify issues involved and basis for relief; performs substantive screening of other pro se litigation; drafts appropriate recommendations and dispositive orders for a judge’s
signature; conducts research to assist the court in preparing opinions; maintains liaison between the court and litigants; reviews the docket of pending prisoner litigation to assure the proper progress of such cases and advises the court of those cases where action by the court is appropriate; prepares non-dispositive orders; compiles statistics and prepares periodic reports, as required, which reflect the status and flow of cases.
Evaluates present procedures to determine new innovations for increasing the effectiveness in handling complaints, petitions, and pleadings. Identifies problem areas, makes recommendations, and offers solutions, as required by the court, Administrative Office, and other officials. Keeps abreast of changes in the law to aid the court in adjusting to new legislation in the pro se area. Performs other duties as assigned.

Qualification Standards
To qualify for the position of Pro Se Law Clerk, an individual must be a law school graduate (or certified as having completed all law school studies and requirements and merely awaiting conferment of degree) and must have the following experience: To qualify for grade 11, 1 year of legal work experience; to qualify for grade 12, 2 years of legal work experience; to qualify for grade 13, 3 years of legal work experience; and to qualify for grade 14, 4 years of legal work experience. A bar membership also is required to qualify for grades 12, 13, and 14.

Legal Work Experience
Legal work experience is progressively responsible experience in the practice of law, in legal research, legal administration, or equivalent experience received after graduation from law school. Major or substantial legal activities while in military service may be credited, on a month-for-month basis whether before or after graduation, but not to exceed one year if before graduation.

Educational Requirement
A degree from a law school of recognized standing (or the certified completion of all law school studies and requirements and merely awaiting conferment of degree) is considered qualified for grade 9.

Educational Substitutions
Graduation (or the certified completion of all law school studies and requirements and merely awaiting conferment of degree) and standing within the upper third of the class from a law school on the approved list of the American Bar Association or that of the Association of American Law Schools; or experience on the editorial board of a law review of such a school; or graduation from a law school on the approved list of the
American Bar Association or that of the Association of American Law Schools with an LLM degree; or demonstrated proficiency in legal studies which, in the opinion of the appointing official, is equivalent of the above is considered qualifying for grade 11.

Additional Preferences
Experience in the federal judicial system. Experience with electronic case filing systems. Excellent academic credentials, as well as superior research and writing skills. Excellent organization and communication skills. Applicant must possess proficient typing and personal computer skills. Desirable qualifications include: detail oriented, reliable, ability to work independently, excellent oral and written communication skills and analytical
skills, and an understanding of court processes and procedures.

Judiciary employees serve under excepted appointments (not civil service). Excepted appointments are “at will” and can be terminated with or without cause. Judicial staff employees are covered by the Judiciary Salary Plan (JSP). Federal benefits include paid annual and sick leave, health benefits and life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care, retirement benefits, and a tax-deferred savings plan. This position is subject to mandatory electronic fund transfer (direct deposit) participation for payment of net pay.

Background Investigation Requirements
Prior to appointment, the selectee considered for this position is required to undergo an FBI Background Check. The selectee may then be appointed provisionally, and retention will depend upon a favorable suitability determination of the background check. As a condition of employment, employees are subject to updated background investigations every five years.

Procedures for Applying
Submit the following:

  • Cover letter
  • A signed AO 78 Application for Judicial Branch Federal Employment (located on the court’s website
  • at
  • Résumé
  • Writing sample
  • Law school transcripts
  • Contact information for three professional references
  • to:

U.S. District Court/Southern District of Illinois
Attn: Personnel Specialist - Confidential, #2011-06
750 Missouri Avenue
East St. Louis, Illinois 62201

Applications must be received by 4:00 p.m. on the closing date. Please do not email or fax application materials. Incomplete and late application materials will not be considered.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or eligible to work in the United States. Selection will be made consistent with the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Plan adopted by the court for the Southern District of Illinois. Applicants selected for interviews must travel at their own expense, and relocation expenses will not be reimbursed.

The Court reserves the right to modify the conditions of this job announcement or to withdraw the announcement, any of which may occur without prior written or other notice. This position may become permanent without further advertisement. Employees are required to adhere to a Code of Ethics and Conduct which is available to applicants for review upon request.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Posted on October 17, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

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