What is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)?

The DOJ, also referred to as the Justice Department, formed in 1870 during the Ulysses S. Grant Administration. Its mission is to enforce the law, prevent and control crime, ensure fair application of justice, and provide federal leadership to protect residents of the nation. By 1870, Congress approved the Act to Establish the DOJ and placed the Attorney General in charge. Presently, the President nominates the AG, whom the Senate confirms.

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Today, the DOJ oversees various law enforcement agencies. Some of the familiar ones include the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Bureau of Prisons, Office of the Pardon Attorney, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). There are 30 separate Divisions, Offices, and agencies under the DOJ’s administrative staff. The total number of employees under the direction of the DOJ is 113,114 (2018). Its headquarters is in Washington, D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue. For the fiscal year 2019, their budget amounted to $29.9 billion.

The Department of Justice has an array of professions across the United States, many of which require a college degree. Examples are:

  • Attorney
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Correctional Officer
  • Financial Management
  • Contract Specialist
  • Accountant/Auditor
  • Paralegal Specialist
  • Human Resource Specialist
  • Budget Analyst
  • Legal Assistant
  • Information Technology
  • Intelligence Research
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Safety and Occupational Health

As a start for the occupation at the top of the list, students can apply for one of 1,800 legal intern positions spread throughout the U.S. The Justice Department hires approximately 800 interns during the academic year and about 1,000 for the summer break. The Summer Law Intern Program or SLIP takes applications from students who are between their second and third years of law school.

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The SLIP illustrates the premise that where you attend law school is not a factor. The Justice website provides a drop-down box to search for current internships and full-time attorney positions. For example, a law student volunteer can look at opportunities in Any Hiring Organization, Any Practice Area, in a selected state. In California, there are several volunteer internships. One example is in the Antitrust Division (ATR) for summer 2020 in San Francisco. Successful candidates will assist in trials, review documents, present legal research, and many more tasks.

The above internship does not specify how many open positions there are. Interns are selected based on the submission of a cover letter, official transcript, resume, and writing sample. Candidates must be residents of the United States for at least three of the past five years, as well as U.S. citizens. Dual citizenship is considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you attend a college or university in and around D.C., this will not be a deciding factor in working for the DOJ. Putting aside the reality, that working for the DOJ could be in any of a host of areas, as mentioned previously. In general, terms, employers may legally assess the institution you attended, as one of the criteria in the hiring process. An applicant with the appropriate degree from Harvard or Yale may be more likely to receive an offer of employment than a school of less renown.

Furthermore, applicants should prepare for the question of why they chose their learning institution. Stating that your school was the only one that accepted you – is the wrong answer. You want to spin a positive tale of why you chose this one.

One instance, when attending school in D.C., is to your advantage is when the job offer is in the nation’s capital. However, this benefits the employee – meaning you have a current residence in the same city where you’ll be soon working. It would matter little to the employer if you attended school in Washington, D.C., or Washington State.

Job opportunities are available across the nation in the different offices, agencies, and divisions of the DOJ. Over 35,000 work for the FBI, scattered throughout 56 field offices, as well as the D.C. headquarters and 385 acres at Quantico, Virginia. The agency has over 13,000 special field agents. A variety of factors determine eligibility for hire into the FBI, namely citizenship, background check, education, age (23 to 36), work experience, and others. The employment requirements are silent on where you attended college or university. The same provision would apply to all jobs under the leadership of the DOJ.

Additional Resources

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What is the hiring process for Homeland Security?

Are most Homeland Security jobs in or around Washington, D.C.?

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