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U.S. District Court for Southern Illinois seeks Pro Se Law Clerk

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois is seeking a full time temporary Pro Se Law Clerk. This temporary position is for one year and one day and may be extended but may not exceed four years, unless it becomes permanent. The Pro Se Law Clerk provides legal advice and assistance to the court in connection with prisoner petitions and complaints. The successful candidate for this position will report to the Chief Judge.

POSITION: Pro Se Law Clerk, Full Time Temporary*
SALARY RANGE: JSP 11 ($57,982) to JSP 14 ($126,949), depending on qualifications**
DATE POSTED: November 24, 2014
CLOSING DATE: December 15, 2014, at 4 p.m.
* Position may become permanent without further competition
** Position is promotion eligible without further competition

Performs substantive screening after the filing of all prisoner and inmate 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 orders for the court’s signature; conducts research to assist the court in preparing opinions; acts as liaison between the court and litigants, and corresponds with other officials as required; reviews the docket of pending prisoner and inmate litigation to assure the proper progress of such cases and advises the court of those cases where action by the court is appropriate; 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 prisoner litigation. Provides information, guidance, and advice to judges, magistrates, and other personnel working in the pro se area. Advises appropriate personnel on the status of particular cases. Performs other duties as assigned.

Applicant must be a law school graduate (or be certified as having completed all law school studies and requirements and merely awaiting conferment of degree) from a law school approved by either the American Bar Association or the Association of American Law Schools and have demonstrated one of the following accomplishments or proficiencies:

  • Standing within the upper third of the law school class;
  • Experience on the editorial board of a law review of such a school;
  • Graduation from such a school with an LLM degree; or
  • Proficiency in legal studies that, in the opinion of the appointing judge, is the equivalent of one of the above.

To qualify for grade 12, one year of legal work experience is required; to qualify for grade 13, two years of legal work experience; and to qualify for grade 14, three years of legal work experience. With the exception of grade 11, a bar membership also is required.

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.

Experience in the federal judicial system. Experience with electronic case filing systems.  Proficiency with Westlaw and/or Lexis. Excellent academic credentials, as well as superior research and writing skills. Experience in handling prisoner litigation, including thorough knowledge of prisoner civil rights law and related rules and procedures. 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, paid holidays, and retirement benefits. Optional benefits include group health and life insurance, disability and long-term care insurance, dental and vision insurance, and a tax-deferred savings plan. This position is subject to mandatory electronic fund transfer (direct deposit) participation for payment of net pay.

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

Application packets should include the following:

  • Cover letter;
  • Résumé;
  • AO 78 Application for Judicial Branch Federal Employment (located on the court’s website at;
  • Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three professional references; and
  • One writing sample limited to no more than 10 pages.

Application packets should be sent to:

  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
  • Attn: Personnel Specialist - Confidential, #2014-13
  • 750 Missouri Avenue
  • East St. Louis, Illinois 62201-2954

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 United States citizens. Selection will be made consistent with the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Plan adopted by the United States District 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. If a similar position within the District Court opens within 60 days of the closing date of this announcement, applicants under this announcement will be considered without further advertisement and competition. Employees are required to adhere to a Code of Ethics and Conduct, which is available to applicants for review upon request.

Court’s Mission
Our mission is to resolve judicial matters fairly and justly in a manner that will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. We are committed to doing so through communication and education in order to ensure respect for the Court. We work to resolve disputes in a timely and efficient manner to promote the public’s confidence and trust in the Judiciary of the United States and to protect individual rights and liberties through law.

Clerk’s Office’s Mission
The mission of the Clerk’s Office is to provide administrative and case management support to the district court, members of the bar, the public, and all government agencies in a professional, timely, and efficient manner. Through teamwork, we perform our duties with courtesy, respect, equality, and fairness, thereby promoting public trust and confidence in the judicial system. Success is linked to commitment, and we are committed to excellence.


Posted on November 24, 2014 by Chris Bonjean