FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER
Western District of Washington
DIVERSITY HIRING PLAN
The Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Washington believes client representation is better when members of the defense team have diverse backgrounds and experiences. We strive for diversity among our attorneys, investigators, paralegals, administrators, and other staff. To meet this goal, we have implemented hiring strategies to attract a diverse pool of applicants and new hires in terms of race, ethnicity, nation of origin, culture, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, education, opinions, age, languages spoken, veteran status, disability, religion, and socio-economic circumstance.
The office takes these steps to help meet its hiring objectives for each open position:
In addition to posting job announcements on websites for the Defender Services Office, Washington State Bar Association, and various law schools, the office posts openings with local bar associations, professional organizations, and other national groups with broad membership. The office also contacts individuals and organizations that may have information about qualified applicants from underrepresented and historically marginalized groups, particularly those with diverse backgrounds, social identities, and lived experiences who may be interested in joining our office.
The office establishes a hiring committee for each open position made up of staff from a cross-section of positions and backgrounds. The hiring committees also include a representative from the office’s Equity and Inclusion Committee, which helps the Defender foster a more inclusive office and practice. Before reviewing applications, the committee will meet to review the position description and establish a matrix of priorities to support their objective review of applicant qualifications. For all positions, these considerations must include whether the applicant advances the goal of improving the diversity of our staff. The hiring committee will openly discuss and attempt to reduce bias throughout the hiring process, from establishing criteria and developing interview questions to evaluating applications and selecting a final candidate.
Applicants shall send letters of interest and résumés in a uniform manner, which are shared with the designated hiring committee, the Defender, the First Assistant Defender, and the Personnel Administrator. The committee will review the applications and determine who meets the criteria specified in the position announcement. The committee prioritizes applicants who improve the diversity of the office when deciding whom to interview.
Once these applicants have been identified they will be invited to interview. Attorney applicants will be asked to provide an original writing sample. The writing samples will be redacted to remove all identifiers and provided to the Chief Appellate Attorney or other lawyers in the office with a reputation for strong writing skills. These lawyers will review and comment on the writing samples. (The same group of lawyers will review each writing sample to ensure continuity in a given hiring process). Both attorney and non-attorney applicants may be asked to provide written responses to questions before their interviews. The same questions will be asked of each applicant for a particular position.
Based on the established matrix of priorities for the position, the hiring committee will create a list of questions to ask during interviews and will pose the same questions to each candidate. The committee will also create a list of questions to ask professional references. Interview rounds will be conducted either entirely in person or entirely via videoconference to ensure equal opportunity. The committee will consider the feasibility of conducting first-round interviews by videoconference to increase accessibility.
The committee will evaluate each candidate, including their application, writing sample and/or written responses, interview responses, and references based on the objective selection criteria. The committee shall individually and as a group make hiring recommendations to the Defender. The Defender will make the final hiring decision based on those recommendations, the Defender’s independent assessment of the office’s diversity hiring goals, and other relevant objective criteria.
Revised April 2022