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Salaries, Promotions, and Benefits

Benefits and Services 
   •   Federal Benefits
          º   Annual Leave
          º   Sick Leave
          º   Holidays
          º   Health Care
          º   Life Insurance
          º   Retirement
   •   Department Benefits and Services
         º   Student Loan Repayment
         º   Worklife Programs
         º   Flexible Work Schedules
         º   Health Units
         º   Fitness Centers
         º   Pro-Bono and Community Involvement
         º   Transit Subsidy
         º   Incentive Awards
         º   Justice Federal Credit Union
         º   Employee Affinity Groups


The Department has two pay scales applicable to attorneys. Attorneys hired by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices are compensated under an Administratively Determined (AD) pay scale authorized by Title 28, U.S. Code. All other attorneys are compensated under the General Schedule (GS) for federal employees authorized by Title 5, U.S. Code. Federal salaries vary by geographic location. Attorneys assigned to high cost of living areas receive a percentage of their base pay as "locality pay." The Office of Personnel Management publishes GS salary tables that list base pay and, for geographic areas with locality pay, the specific annual salary for that location. For both the current GS base salary and exact GS salaries by location, visit Salary ranges for Assistant U.S. Attorneys differ from the GS salary for that location and are graded based on experience and level of responsibility. Candidates interviewing with a U.S. Attorney's Office should discuss salary requirements with the hiring office.

Experienced Attorneys: Starting salaries for experienced attorneys are based on the position, the attorney's experience, and other considerations. Generally, only experience in the field of law will be considered relevant, but non-legal experience following law school may be counted if it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that such experience is directly applicable to the attorney duties to be performed with the organization and is particularly helpful to the hiring organization. In rare instances, pre-law school graduation experience, whether legal or non-legal, may be considered. The chart below applies to the GS schedule, and depicts the years of experience that generally permit the indicated GS grade level. The U.S. Attorney's Offices use an Administratively Determined pay schedule based on years of experience and other qualifications. Please note that the fact that an attorney has the minimum experience for a particular grade level does not mean that the attorney is entitled to that grade level. Starting salaries are generally negotiated with the hiring component and are based on many factors, including budgetary considerations, the level of responsibility associated with the position, and the salary levels of currently employed attorneys. Please note that there are ten salary steps within each GS salary grade and a range of salaries within each AD salary grade. Experienced attorneys should discuss salary requirements with the hiring office as part if the hiring process.

Years of Experience GS Grade 2008 Annual Base GS Salary Range (steps 1-10) (Not Including Locality Pay) 2008 Annual GS Salary Range for Washington, D.C. Area (steps 1-10) (Including Locality Pay)
Up to one year GS-11 $48,148 to $62,593 $58,206 to $75,669
1 or more years GS-12 $57,709 to $75,025 $69,764 to $90,698
1.5 or more years GS-13 $68,625 to $89,217 $82,961 to $107,854
2.5 or more years GS-14 $81,093 to $105,420 $98,033 to $127,442
4 or more years GS-15 $95,390 to $124,010 $115,317 to $149,000*
*Rate limited to the rate for level IV of the Executive Schedule (5 U.S.C. 5304(g)(1)).

Entry-level (Honors Program) Attorneys: The chart below lists the 2008 GS pay scale base salary, and salary for the Washington, D.C. area. Starting salaries for Honors Program attorneys hired under the GS scale are based on the qualifications listed. Honors Program attorneys hired as Assistant U.S. Attorneys are subject to the salary policies in effect at the hiring office and should discuss salary requirements as part of the hiring process.

Qualifications 2008 General Scale (GS) Pay Grade and Annual Base Salary (Not Including Locality Pay) 2008 Annual General Scale (GS) Salary for Washington, D.C. Area (Including Locality Pay)
Candidates with a law degree (J.D. or equivalent) GS-11, step 1: $ 48,148 $ 58,206
Candidates with 1 year of post-law school judicial clerkship experience GS-12, step 1: $ 57,709 $ 69,764
Candidates who earn advanced law degrees with 1 year of post-law school full-time graduate law study (L.LM or equivalent) GS-12, step 1: $ 57,709 $ 69,764
Candidates with 2 – 3 years of judicial clerkships or combination of 2 – 3 years of post-law school clerkships and graduate law degree.

(at the discretion of the hiring component)
GS-13, step 1: $ 68,625

$ 82,961


Attorney promotions are generally performance-based, and are subject to time-in-grade requirements. It is possible for attorneys starting at the GS-11 grade level to reach the GS-15 level in three and one-half years. Some components may require longer times-in-grade or restrict the grade level to which non-supervisory attorneys may be promoted. Meeting the minimum time-in-grade requirement does not automatically entitle an attorney to a promotion. The chart below reflects the minimum time-in-grade requirements for attorneys compensated under the GS schedule. Promotions for Assistant U.S. Attorneys paid under Title 23 are subject to different time-in-grade requirements.

Grade Level Minimum Time-In-Grade for Consideration
GS-11 to GS-12 6 months
GS-12 to GS-13 6 months if hired at the GS-12 level; otherwise, 1 year
GS-13 to GS-14 1 year
GS-14 to GS-15

18 months (can be accelerated to 12 months, depending on performance and policy of the organization)

Experienced Attorneys: Experienced attorneys may be considered for promotion from their current GS level to the next higher GS level once they have served the minimum time-in-grade.

Entry-Level Attorneys: Entry-level (Honors Program) attorneys compensated under the GS schedule may be considered for promotion from their current GS level (e.g., GS-11) to the next higher GS level (e.g., GS-12) once they have served the minimum time-in-grade and have passed or been admitted to the bar (any U.S. jurisdiction).


The Department of Justice offers an array of benefits and opportunities to its employees. It recognizes the need to support employees both at work and in their lives outside the workplace by providing both standard Federal benefits and tailored Department benefits.

Federal Benefits

Annual Leave: A minimum of 13 days a year. Attorneys earn vacation or annual leave based on the length of their Federal service (0-3 years of federal service = 13 days per year; 3-15 years of service = 20 days per year; 15+ years of federal service = 26 days per year).

Sick Leave: Regardless of the length of service, attorneys can earn 13 days of sick leave each year. Unused sick leave accumulates indefinitely.

Paid Holidays: Federal employees receive 10 paid holidays each year: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King's Birthday, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

Health Care Coverage: Attorneys and their families can enroll in one of many health insurance plans with part of the cost paid by the government. Plans include traditional fee-for-service plans and prepaid plans (Comprehensive Medical Plans and Health Maintenance Organizations). In addition, Federal employees are covered by Medicare.

Life Insurance: Attorneys may purchase life insurance coverage with part of the cost paid by the Federal government. Face value of the insurance is based on the attorney's salary, and coverage includes payment for loss of limbs and eyesight and accidental death. Additional insurance is optional and available to each attorney.

Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS): FERS is a three-part retirement plan: social security, basic annuity, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a retirement savings and investment plan. Attorneys pay full social security taxes and a small contribution to the basic annuity. In addition, attorneys may make tax-deferred contributions of up to 14% of their annual salary to the TSP, and a portion (up to 5%) is matched by the government. FERS has many features that are portable, so that if the attorney leaves the Federal government, he or she may still qualify for the benefits.

Department Benefits

Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (ASLRP): All attorneys employed by the Department assigned to attorney positions may request consideration for the ALSRP. Details can be found at

Worklife Programs: The Department's worklife philosophy offers an array of benefits to support employees and maximize their performance through practical and workable solutions to balancing the demands of work and personal lives. Benefits include: family-friendly leave programs, dependent care support (including a child care center and emergency child care services in the Washington, D.C. area), dependent care resource and referral services, and flexible work options. An Employee Assistance Program offers confidential counseling and referral services.

Flexible Work Options: As part of the worklife program, subject to mission requirements, the Department offers modified work schedules, such as flexible hours, compressed work schedules, telecommuting, and part-time schedules.

Health Units: Health units staffed by medical professionals offer a full-array of professional services in convenient on-site locations, and provide free health awareness/screening programs, emergency response, walk-in care and first aid.

Fitness Centers: The Justice Occupational Health Organization offers a state-of-the-art gym for a small annual membership fee. Some components offer in-house fitness centers at satellite locations.

Pro-Bono and Community Involvement Opportunities: The Department sponsors an organized pro-bono program and supports other volunteer activities, such as tutoring to local schools.

Transit Subsidy: DOJ provides a transit subsidy to employees residing in areas served by mass transit to encourage the use of public transportation.

Incentive Awards Program: DOJ offers cash and honorary awards for superior performance, special acts or services, or suggestions deserving recognition.

Justice Federal Credit Union: A full-service financial institution serves DOJ employee members and their families.

Employee Affinity Groups: DOJ has a variety of affinity groups including DOJ Association of Black Attorneys; DOJ AHEAD (Association of Hispanic Employees for Advancement and Development); Indian Trial Lawyers Association of DOJ; DOJ Pan Asia Employees Association; and DOJ Pride (Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Employees).

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