DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

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DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:44 pm

I am a recruiter for the U.S. DOT Honors Program and have posted in the past about our program. Given the uncertainty about government hiring I wanted to post that we have been cleared to begin recruiting efforts for our 2018 class. Unless something unexpected arises, we plan on hiring a normal size class (8-10 attorneys). If you are interested in the program, look for postings through your schools (some may be late adds since we only recently obtained approval). Information about the program is available at https://www.transportation.gov/administrations/office-general-counsel/honors-attorney-program.

As I did in the last recruiting cycle (2016) I am happy to answer questions to the extent I can. The previous thread is here: http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=252561&hilit=dot+honors.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:21 pm

Bumping this post now that interviews are starting.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:52 pm

Hi! Thank you so much for doing this!

I'm extremely interested in the program, but I have no ties to DC whatsoever. Will this hurt me in the interview process?

Do most attorneys who finish the program accept a full-time position in DC, or where do they generally end up?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:38 am

1) what do attorneys at DOT do?
2) what are you looking for in candidates?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:1) what do attorneys at DOT do?
2) what are you looking for in candidates?

3) what does the DOT pay their honor attorneys?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:1) what do attorneys at DOT do?
2) what are you looking for in candidates?

3) what does the DOT pay their honor attorneys?

4) what does the hiring process look like? Is there a central timeline? How many rounds of interviews? At what schools will you be doing on-campus recruiting?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:22 pm

I am curious to know if DOT Honors gives any kind of preference to those coming from federal clerkships. I missed the program as a 2017 graduate but will be applying for 2018 as a clerk and interned with a few fed agencies in law school.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:00 pm

Sorry for the delay, here are answers to what's been asked so far:

Hi! Thank you so much for doing this!

I'm extremely interested in the program, but I have no ties to DC whatsoever. Will this hurt me in the interview process?

Do most attorneys who finish the program accept a full-time position in DC, or where do they generally end up?


No ties to DC needed. You just need to have some credible interest in government work. We assume that if you want to work for the federal government you are willing to relocate to DC. For long-term, although the program is structured as a 2-year position, most Honors Attorneys stay with the agency at least in the medium term (5-10 years). Every year 1-2 Honors Attorneys will voluntarily take positions outside the agency, but the rest will end up with permanent positions somewhere in the Department. That is not a legal guarantee, but it sorts itself out. Beginning at the end of the first year Honors Attorneys are eligible to take a permanent position within the Department, and any legal position that comes open during that second year of the program must be offered to interested Honors Attorneys first before anyone else may be hired (except in extraordinary circumstances).

1) what do attorneys at DOT do?
2) what are you looking for in candidates?
3) what does the DOT pay their honor attorneys?
4) what does the hiring process look like? Is there a central timeline? How many rounds of interviews? At what schools will you be doing on-campus recruiting?


1) [Answer adapted from the 2015 thread] In terms of the typical work of an Honors Attorney, the Honors Attorneys basically do whatever the individual office is doing. Whether the Honors Attorney is acting as a lead vs. support attorney on a given issue depends on its complexity and timeline (since Honors Attorneys are only in an office for 4 months). Since the work an office may be doing at any given time can vary tremendously, I think the best way to answer your question is to describe the basic work of the DOT that the attorneys support in general.

About half of the DOT is focused on funding transportation infrastructure. The closest private sector analogy might be to the work a bank would do. Attorneys are involved in the selection of funding recipients, execution of the funding documents, and oversight of the use of the funds. All federal funds are subject to a large list of legal restrictions, including Civil Rights laws, labor laws, procurement competition laws, Buy America laws, etc. Attorneys not only provide support in each individual funding action, but also help develop general practices, procedures, and forms that can be used to streamline the process as a whole. Attorneys also investigate and enforce all the various terms of the funding agreements when needed.

The other half of the DOT is focused on regulating the safety of our national transportation systems. Different parts of DOT regulate all air traffic (commercial and private), commercial trucking companies, automobile manufacturers, all railroad companies (passenger and cargo), all mass transit entities, all interstate transportation of hazardous materials regardless of mode, and all interstate pipelines. In this arena attorneys work in regulatory and pseudo-prosecutorial roles. They will assist in the rulemaking process - drafting rules, responding to comments, and analyzing legal issues that come up. They will also do enforcement work - receive investigation reports from field inspectors, evaluate cases, file regulatory notices of violation, and do all the negotiation or administrative trial work necessary to resolve the issue.

All parts of the DOT also have attorneys doing the equivalent of in-house counsel work for government agencies. This involves internal compliance of laws governing the behavior of federal employees, including procurement regulations and the investigation and resolution of employment law issues. This work also covers Freedom of Information Act requests, interpreting the agency's legislative authority, analyzing fiscal/appropriations law to ensure that money is being spent properly, drafting legislation and interfacing with Congress, and providing litigation assistance to DOJ.

This in no way describes everything a DOT attorney might do, but hopefully gives you a slightly better idea of the various areas of work you may be exposed to.

2) With varying degrees of importance: academic performance in law school and undergrad (GPA and class standing), journal/moot court/mock trial experience, other academic awards, oral and written communication skills, demonstrated ownership over your work, overall professionalism and interpersonal skills, demonstrated interest in public service.

3) Honors Attorneys are hired at GS-11(currently $66k in DC) and will generally (unless you really screw up) be promoted to GS-12 ($80k) after one year. After that your promotions are based on the policies of the individual agencies you are hired into, but as a general rule DOT attorneys can expect annual promotion up to GS-14 ($95k at 13 then $112k at 14). Some agencies then allow promotion to GS-15 at the staff level, while others require a promotion into a supervisory role for GS-15 promotion. All salaries usually also get a COLA annually, depending on what the Congress/President do. And once you reach GS-14 you receive step increases at varying increments (1 step a year for 4 years, then spacing out after that). Check out OPM's website for more detail.

4) Each region coordinator is responsible for choosing where to interview, though our travel budget is limited this year so in-person coverage may be spotty. That said, don't despair if there is not OCI at your school. We do review all the resumes received through resume drop postings and will follow up with phone interviews. First round interviews are being conducted through Sept. 15. Second round interviews will be held in late October in DC (~80 interviews anticipated). Then offers will be extended around Thanksgiving.

I am curious to know if DOT Honors gives any kind of preference to those coming from federal clerkships. I missed the program as a 2017 graduate but will be applying for 2018 as a clerk and interned with a few fed agencies in law school.


No specific preference for clerks, but the qualifications that got you a clerkship will definitely make you attractive for the program. We have a specific recruitment coordinator for clerks, info here: https://www.transportation.gov/mission/administrations/general-counsel/honors-attorney-program-how-to-apply.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:01 pm

Double posted. Deleted the second.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:12 pm

Thanks for resurfacing! Can you tell me more about the opportunities for gaining litigation skills (when working in enforcement in particular), and relatedly about exit options--do people move to other agencies? Which ones? And where else do they go? Asking this as someone interested in plaintiffs side and public interest work.

And can you tell me more about the impact of the change in administrations on the enforcement & rule making side of things? Is trump as indifferent/hostile to worker and traveller safety as he is to civil rights?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:07 pm

Hi, I'm curious, does recruitment for the DOT Honors program take place from one specific department (i.e. NHTSA, MARAD, etc.) or is there a consortium from all of the departments which selects the attorneys? Thanks.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:14 pm

Can you tell me more about the opportunities for gaining litigation skills (when working in enforcement in particular), and relatedly about exit options--do people move to other agencies? Which ones? And where else do they go? Asking this as someone interested in plaintiffs side and public interest work.

And can you tell me more about the impact of the change in administrations on the enforcement & rule making side of things? Is trump as indifferent/hostile to worker and traveller safety as he is to civil rights?


Direct litigation experience is rare but it does exist. There are plenty of opportunities for developing litigation experience in support of DOJ (basically in-house litigation work) which can be significant depending on the matter. Enforcement is similar to criminal prosecutorial work - only a very small percentage of cases actually go to a hearing or lawsuit. Most are resolved through settlements. But the process of drafting pleadings, developing evidence, and negotiating settlements is very similar to the kind of work you'd do in any prosecutor-type role.

In terms of exit options, they're really more about the substantive area of law you work in than anything specific to DOT. We have about 550 attorneys in the entire Department and people move around relatively frequently to Biglaw, small/mid-size local firms, in-house at transportation companies, or other agencies based on their substantive knowledge. Environmental lawyers can go to EPA or Commerce (NOAA/NMFS), lawyers with security portfolios can go to DHS/Coast Guard, litigation experience can move you to DOJ, employment experience to DOL, international experience to State, legislative attorneys often move to the Hill, etc.

I can't say for sure about the effect of the current administration since we're just starting to get agency-head appointees coming on duty, but we have not seen any indications that our basic mission functions will change. DOT's work tends to be pretty popular across the partisan spectrum. Everybody likes safe transportation and everybody likes infrastructure spending (mostly). Every administration likes to make small tweaks to things but the basic mission of DOT tends not to change much across administrations.

Hi, I'm curious, does recruitment for the DOT Honors program take place from one specific department (i.e. NHTSA, MARAD, etc.) or is there a consortium from all of the departments which selects the attorneys? Thanks.


The recruitment is Department-wide. Each agency has at least one representative in the hiring process. You enter the program through the General Counsel's Office for the Secretary of Transportation. You do at least three rotations, two with Chief Counsel's offices in a sub-agency, and one with the OST GC's office. You can do up to three additional rotations at different sub-agency offices. The permanent position you take will be with a particular sub-agency or OST GC office, depending on which positions are available/you apply for.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:23 pm

How long after one applies online should one expect to hear something about an interview if one is going to offered an interview?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:14 pm

How long after one applies online should one expect to hear something about an interview if one is going to offered an interview?


First round interviews are due to be completed by September 15. Lag time from application to interview may vary depending on who is reviewing the materials, but I would use September 15 as a guide date for good news/bad news.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:32 pm

I have an interview coming up. Any advice? Besides reviewing the website and this and 2015's thread, should I do anything to prepare? Thank you!

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:17 pm

I have an interview coming up. Any advice? Besides reviewing the website and this and 2015's thread, should I do anything to prepare? Thank you!


I think the information in the places you identified should give you everything you need. It's always helpful to show that you've done your research about the program, but the main purpose of the interview is to learn about you.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:07 am

Questions about benefits:

Are cell phone costs reimbursed? Do you get to work from home? Is there student loan repayment assistance?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:39 pm

Questions about benefits:

Are cell phone costs reimbursed? Do you get to work from home? Is there student loan repayment assistance?


Phone costs are not reimbursed, but you will be provided a blackberry if your duties warrant it (typically after a permanent placement).

You are allowed to telework up to 2 days a week, though most people only do 1 day. I'd say over 50% of DOT attorneys telework.

Student loan repayment availability varies by sub-agency. It is not a benefit offered during the duration of the Honors Program but may be available depending on your permanent placement. FYI there are a lot of hurdles/restrictions for student loan repayment benefits. The OPM page is a good place for info: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/student-loan-repayment/#url=Overview. Also, I'm not sure how the student loan benefit might interact with an income-based repayment schedule and write-off as a public service employee.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:12 pm

Just wondering what a standard second interview is like? It says somewhere that they are around 2 hours long, I was just wondering if it is question based or if there are aptitude tests or anything? Thanks

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:03 pm

Poster above or anybody- has anyone received an invitation for a second round interview?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Poster above or anybody- has anyone received an invitation for a second round interview?


I'd like to know as well. Been radio silent thus far, but judging from past DOT threads seems like this is around the time we should start hearing.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:59 pm

Friend of mine got a callback a few weeks ago. Scheduled for mid-October.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:12 pm

Another wave of callbacks seems to be going out today.

A few questions if Anon is still here:

1: I assume that it's important to go in for the callback even though it says phone interviews are an option?

2: Any advice on what's important in a writing sample? My two obvious samples are something I wrote in an advanced writing class, which is very good but not written in a real work environment, or memos I wrote at a state transportation agency, which are very related to DoT subject matter and as such would need to be extremely heavily redacted.

3: Is there an advantage to interviewing earlier in the callback cycle?

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:13 am

Update: got through to second round. I got it about a month after my first interview. I got the feeling they are still extending callbacks.

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Re: DOT Honors 2018 Will Be Hiring - Recruiter Taking Questions

Postby TheSpanishMain » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:07 am

A lot of non-DOJ Honors programs seem to ask for some particular grade percentile to apply. Are these typically soft floors, considering the differences in school rank? As in, a median student at, say, UVA is probably more impressive than a top 25% student at Florida Coastal.




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