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CHU Paralegal 22-05 Austin, Texas

CHU Paralegal
Job Location: 
Austin, Texas
Date Posted: 
Friday, October 29, 2021

The Federal Public Defenderfor the Western District of Texas is accepting applications for a paralegal for its Capital Habeas Unit in Austin, Texas. The Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) represents indigent, death-sentenced Texas prisoners in federal habeas corpus proceedings in the four United States District Courts in Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.


To qualify for the CHU paralegal position, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or have a paralegal certificate from an accredited paralegal program.  Candidates must also possess:

  • a strong legal, administrative, or paralegal background;
  • excellent organization and communication skills;
  • proficient computer skills including word processing and spreadsheet use; email; use of legal research tools like Westlaw and Lexis; database coding, search and maintenance; use of Adobe Acrobat;
  • excellent command of English grammar and spelling; and
  • three to five years of relevant experience, preferably handling complex litigation and/or managing voluminous case files.

Above all, applicants must have a strong commitment to providing excellent representation to indigent, death-sentenced persons.  Employment is subject to a satisfactory background investigation including, but not limited to an FBI fingerprint and name check.


The paralegal assists in the representation of death-sentenced clients in federal habeas corpus proceedings.  Specific duties include: obtaining, organizing, indexing, coding, analyzing, and managing large document collections in collaboration with other members of a case team; maintenance of databases; extensive use of computer software; meeting with clients; assisting in case preparation and incarceration issues; assisting in the preparation of large legal documents; collaborating with outside consultants/experts, investigators, and attorneys; litigation support such as file organization and preparation of exhibits for depositions and evidentiary proceedings; other duties as assigned. This position may require work on holidays, evenings, and weekends, as a case may require. Frequent and extended travel may be required.

Selection Criteria: 
The successful applicant will have a working knowledge of law office operations and legal practices, and an understanding of criminal law procedure and evidence. Applicants must possess strong analytical skills and the ability to work collegially and to maintain professional integrity in the workplace. Applicants must be able to work with documents and media that describe or depict violence and mental health issues. Applicants must be able to travel overnight and work non-traditional hours. Prior federal court litigation experience is preferred, and Spanish-language fluency is a plus.
Salary and Benefits: 
The starting salary of a paralegal will be commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the applicant, within a range from JSP-11, Step 1, to JSP-14, Step 1, and currently yielding $65,887 to $110,970 per annum. The position is in the excepted service and does not carry the tenure rights of the competitive Civil Service. The position does offer federal government employee benefits, including health and life insurance programs, retirement, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Salary is payable only by Electronic Funds Transfer (direct deposit).
How to apply: 

Candidates may apply by sending a letter of interest (must mention announcement 22-05), résumé, and writing sample to: Maureen Scott Franco, Federal Public Defender, Western District of Texas, 504 Lavaca St., Suite 960, Austin, Texas 78701-2860, or you may submit your application documents in a single PDF document by email to The document should be named as follows: “Announcement 22-05, position title, last name, first name” (e.g., 22-05 CHU Paralegal, Smith, John). Electronic submissions sent directly to the Defender will not be considered. For applicants with disabilities, this organization provides reasonable accommodations, which are decided on a case-by-case basis. To request a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or interview process, contact personnel administrator Victoria B. Longoria, at (210) 981-2081. More than one position may be filled from this announcement. Position announced October 29, 2021, subject to the availability of funds; open until filled. 

Federal Public Defender is an equal-opportunity employer.