SAMPLE DOJ HONORS PROGRAM RESPONSES FROM TWO SUCCESSFUL BERKELEY LAW APPLICANTS APPLICANT #1 Why do you want to work for the Department of Justice? I want to work for the Department of Justice, and specifically the Executive Office of Immigration Review, because I think a year-long clerkship will give me the best training I can hope to get in the area of law in which I'm most interested: immigration law. I came to law school to be an immigration attorney, after having worked teaching ESL abroad and then working at a non-profit organization that represents immigrants in their removal proceedings. Although I have had experience in immigration law in advocacy and educational settings, I think that working to assist the neutral arbiter of facts and applying the law to these facts will give me a much deeper understanding of the law and policy issues than any other post-law school experience. I came to law school wanting to work in public service, and working for DOJ would be one step on a path to doing that. If you could tell the selecting official one thing about yourself, what would it be? As a former philosophy major, I enjoy putting together and dissecting arguments. I have also been told that I am a good, clear writer. I think that these abilities would be essential to successfully clerking for an Immigration Judge who sees a large number of cases every year. Additionally, I think some of my personal and professional experiences living abroad have given me an understanding of and compassion for people from other countries. As a child, I lived in Santiago, Chile, and attended the pubic school system there, where I was fully immersed in the culture and language. As a college student, I studied abroad in Stockholm, Sweden, where I studied comparative social policy and interned at the American Embassy. After college and prior to law school, I volunteered teaching English as a Second Language in Bangkok, Thailand and Lima, Peru. These experiences allowed me to meet people from vastly different cultures and broadened my understanding of the United States' role in the world. Nevertheless, I have a respect for the immigration law that transcends these experiences, and would be eager to see the law in action in an EOIR courtroom. Additional information: Prior to law school, I worked for Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), an organization that conducts immigration law trainings for Catholic Charities and other legal service providers, as well as represents detained immigrants at several sites nationwide. My position there as Project Assistant allowed me to gain a non-lawyer's understanding of immigration law and policy, especially with respect to detention issues. I had the opportunity to attend numerous immigration law trainings, such as: Center for Migration Studies National Legal Conference on Immigration and Refugee Policy (Washington, DC, April 2003); Family-Based Immigration Law Two-Day Seminar (Niagara Falls, NY, September 2003); The Violence Against Women Act: Immigration Relief for Battered Immigrants (Boston, MA, October 2003); The Impact of Crimes on Removal Proceedings (New York, NY, November 2003; and Boston University Medical Center's Program for Refugee Health Policy Conference (Boston, MA, November 2003). I also performed research for and participated in writing article published in 9 Bender's Immigration Bulletin No. 14 (July 15, 2004) describing developments in immigration detention law and policy, including federal and administrative court decisions and policy actions, from May 2003 - April 2004. During my first year of law school, I participated in a student-run clinic, the California Asylum Representation Clinic, where I was assigned to a client who was affirmatively seeking asylum. Another student and I interviewed the client several times, drafted her declaration, and accompanied her to her interview with the Asylum Officer. During my second year of law school, I participated in the only official immigration law clinic, the East Bay Community Law Center's Immigration/HIV Project. Through the clinic, I helped represent HIV-positive clients on various immigration matters, including naturalization, asylum, and adjustment of status. Throughout law school, I have taken advantage of the immigration courses available to me. Such courses include: Refugee Law (for which I earned a grade of Honors), Immigration Law (Honors), and The Constitutional and Civil Rights of Immigrants (High Honors). In my second year of law school, I was granted a $10,000 merit scholarship from PEO International, a foundation that makes grants to women in professional and graduate degree programs. In my third year of law school, I was awarded Boalt Hall's Homer Mason Scholarship, a $3,000 merit scholarship made to one Boalt student per year who has shown a demonstrated commitment to public service. I am not fluent in Spanish, but have intermediate level ability in Spanish, as I was fluent as a child and studied Spanish through high school and college. Prior to attending law school, I enrolled in a six-week intermediate level intensive Spanish course in Cochabamba, Bolivia. During this time, I lived with a Bolivian family and was fully immersed in Spanish. Therefore, I believe that I could regain my language skills if required to do so. APPLICANT #2 EMPLOYMENT HISTORY 4000 character limit description of duties As a Summer Associate at Baker & McKenzie, my primary practice group was the Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits group. I was responsible for being a contributing member of the legal team and providing analysis of tax laws, including reporting and withholding requirements, labor law compliance, securities regulation, and exchange control laws for equity awards offered by U.S. multinational companies to their employees abroad. I was responsible for drafting employee supplemental information documents in compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission Form S-8 Prospectus filing requirements for equity awards. I also researched and created a categorical chart of ERISA violations by type and subsequent voluntary correction measures made pursuant to IRS and Department of Labor guidelines. I also worked with the Litigation practice group. Working with experienced litigators, I researched and created a citation chart of negligence affirmative defenses and statutory filing limitations across 50 jurisdictions for use in a brief filed in response to a class action certification in a negligence suit. In addition, I edited, and conducted research for, and verification of, citations in a brief filed in a malpractice suit. Working with the Corporate practice group, I researched California trust law, fiduciary obligations, and affiliative investments. I was also responsible for creating a closing binder for a financial transaction establishing a credit facility between a parent and local subsidiary. As a contributing member of the Pro Bono team, I drafted a report on social services in developing countries focusing on delivery and protection of human rights at the municipal level, which resulted in a formal report for the government of Sri Lanka in partnership with the Public Interest Law & Policy Group. I was also responsible for conducting interviews, holding meetings, and writing a brief in support of a homeless woman seeking SSI benefits for mental and physical disabilities. I acted as my client’s legal representative in retrieving medical records and interfacing with the Social Security Administration, under the auspices of the Homeless Advocacy Project of the Volunteer Legal Services Program of the Bar Association of San Francisco. ILRC Law Clerk As a Summer Law Clerk with the Immigrant Legal Resources Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, I had four primary tasks. First, I drafted the update to the ILRC immigration practice manual. I was required to research the new and relevant case law on naturalization, and specifically, the appeals process for denials of naturalization applications. My writing skills strengthened as I learned to turn complicated statutory language, judicial and administrative opinions, into accessible and simple English, all the while preserving the accuracy of the laws described. Second, I traveled to the rural northern central valley of California to conduct a three-day training in Spanish on the importance of earning citizenship and engaging in the electoral system. My audience was primarily low-income Spanish-monolingual immigrants, many of whom where in the process of adjusting their legal status to permanent residency, the step just before becoming a United States citizen. I was responsible for translating the training materials for the program, which emphasized that to become a citizen and exercise the right to vote was the best that they could do for their families and new home country. Third, I wrote a 40-page summary and analysis of the 2006 proposed Senate immigration reform package. While the proposed reforms did not pass into law, the purpose of the analysis was to help the ILRC stay apprised of the immigration debate that continues today. Fourth, I was responsible for drafting legal memoranda addressing questions from immigration practitioners and nonprofit legal service providers seeking pro bono advice for their clients. I researched the case law and administrative interpretations of the Immigration and Naturalization Act and accompanying regulations. Through these four facets of my Summer Clerkship experience, I learned how to research and convey information about our immigration laws to a wide variety of audiences. International Institute of the East Bay As a volunteer legal advocate, I was responsible for conducting client interviews in Spanish, drafting declarations, and completing visa applications, for women who were victims of violence. Each client was a low-income noncitizen who qualified for a “U-Visa” under the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act that allowed for noncitizens to gain lawful status as a benefit for cooperating with law enforcement in the prosecution of their attacker. I was responsible for explaining the application process to each client, in addition to recording their individual stories of abuse that gave rise to their case. PolicyLink Program Assistant As a Research Assistant at PolicyLink, a nonprofit public policy research and advocacy organization, I learned how to analyze policy and coordinate policy campaigns. I was principally responsible for providing research support for the Director of Research, an Associate Director, and a Senior Program Associate. My research was primarily focused on California regulation of public infrastructure, from highways to water resources to public school facilities. I conducted research in partnership with MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund) on Williams v. State of California, including an analysis of best practices across the United States in reducing public school overcrowding. For other projects on civic participation, I conducted research interviews with community leaders and elected officials on voter mobilization strategies targeted toward people of color, low-income residents, youth and new citizens for a report on political engagement strategies. Law Offices of Norton Tooby Bilingual Legal Assistant As a Bilingual Legal Assistant, I was primarily responsible for supporting the lead attorney by conducting client intake interviews in Spanish and English, providing translation in attorney-client consultations, and consultation transcription. I was responsible for drafting and submitting document requests to the court; reviewing and summarizing criminal court documents and immigration documents for analysis of the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. I also researched and served as copy editor for publications on post-conviction relief for immigration purposes. ESSAY QUESTIONS Why do you want to work for the Department of Justice?(Limited to 2000 Characters) My interest in working for the Department of Justice is rooted in my firm commitment to serving my country and community through the impartial, fair, and honorable administration of justice. I am certain that I may best achieve this goal by working with the Department, which itself serves the essential function of upholding the laws of our nation with integrity. Through my public interest and private sector legal experiences, I have gained a clear sense of the ways in which law serves society when administered fairly. Serving the legal needs of low-income community members, immigrants, and small business owners, my work in the public interest has been instructive about the injustices in our society and how law may act as a cure. Working in the private sector, I tackled complicated legal questions relating to corporations, tax liabilities, and labor laws, which has been educational as to the operation of our legal system between private parties. From these experiences, I have acquired a great appreciation for the proficiency of our legal system, and believe that injustice occurs not for lack of fair laws, but often for lack of effective legal representation, for noncompliance with the law, and for lack of proper understanding of the judicial system. I want to work for the Department of Justice because I believe I will make a substantial contribution to the Department based on my diversity of experiences, and I am confident that I will learn exponentially from the great minds working to keep the Department true to its name. If you could tell the selecting official one thing about yourself, what would it be?(Limited to 2000 Characters) I would like the Selecting Official to know that I am as committed to serving my country through professional legal work, as much as I am committed to serving the everyday people of my community through volunteer work. I come from a family of immigrants, and have the language skills to connect to both the English-speaking and the Spanish-speaking members of my community. My access to higher education has not divided me from my community, but rather, has brought me closer to those in need. Whether distributing free-groceries to low-income families at La Familia Center in Santa Cruz, California, or providing translation and legal counseling to victims of domestic violence at the International Institute in Oakland, California, I have increased my ability to give back effectively through my education. Given the opportunity to work with the Department of Justice, I will analyze the law in a manner that takes into consideration the vast variety of lived experiences in our society. ADDITIONAL INFO SECTION Please use the space below to provide additional information related to experience, unique qualifications, training, special skills or competencies, honors and awards (law school, graduate, or undergraduate), articles published, or other relevant information that you wish the Department to consider.(Limited to 4000 Characters) My family has lived the immigrant experience: from my grandmother working in a San Francisco hotel laundry room, to my grandfather picking crops along the northern coast of California, to my father being the first in the family to attend community college, then a four-year university, to myself graduating from UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). My commitment to the study of law has always been informed by the journey my family has taken to become a part of the United States. Given my distinct background, I have engaged with every opportunity to the fullest extent possible, knowing that my efforts are inspired by my own motivation and the determination of my grandparents and my parents. Because of my student leadership at Albany High School, I was selected to be the school representative to Girls State. The experience enlivened my interest in electoral politics as we held mock elections and campaigns. Attending the University of California, Santa Cruz, I was drawn to the rigorous academics of the combined degree in Latin American Studies and Political Science. With funding from the Education Abroad Scholarship and Joel Frankel Memorial Research Scholarship, I was able to spend my Junior year studying in Chile. For my Senior Thesis, based on my research conducted at the Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, I received honors with approval from both the Latin American Studies and Political Science Departments. Upon return to my home university, I worked with Professor Jonathan A. Fox as a Fellow with the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program. Receiving College Honors, Department Honors, and graduating Phi Beta Kappa from UC Santa Cruz in 2001, I promptly sought a job in the legal field. My work experiences developed rapidly, as a Bilingual Legal Assistant assisting in client interviews and legal research, to a Research Assistant contributing to policy reports for state officials. My interest in the law and the pursuit of justice found further inspiration in these experiences. At the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), I served as the Notes and Comments Editor for the California Law Review (CLR). I was responsible for the selection and substantive editing of student articles for publication in CLR. I was a Board Member of the La Raza Law Students Association and the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal. I also volunteered at the International Institute of the East Bay. As a legal advocate, I worked directly with Spanish-monolingual clients who were victims of domestic violence. Conducting interviews in Spanish, I drafted declarations for clients to accompany their applications for adjustment of legal status. In recognition of my commitment to community and the law, I received numerous scholarships, including the Equal Justice America Scholarship, the Cruz Reynoso Social Justice Fellowship, the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship, the Richard V. Cruz Memorial Scholarship, the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Bar Association Scholarship, East Bay La Raza Lawyers Bar Association, the Latina Lawyers Bar Association, and the California Bar Foundation Rosenthal Scholarship. My immigration work experience is tied directly to my first professional experience working for an attorney representing immigrants in criminal matters, which entailed working closely with immigration counsel. This exposure to the intersection of criminal and immigration law laid the foundation for my course work in immigration law at Boalt Hall, and later with my summer law clerk experience at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. I also volunteered with the International Institute of the East Bay working with noncitizen clients seeking legal status under certain provisions of the Violence Against Women Act. Together, my exposure to immigration law and practice is substantial and provides a strong foundation to begin working with the Executive Office of Immigration Review.
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