HUD Legal Honors Program

HUD Legal Honors Program Welcome to the official page for the Legal Honors program at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The Legal Honors Program is the hiring vehicle for entry-level attorneys for the Office of General Counsel.

Through this program, OGC recruits the most talented and committed law school graduates interested in playing a vital role in helping HUD accomplish its mission to “create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality, affordable homes for all.”

HUD’s Office of General Counsel offers an exciting and challenging legal career and the opportunity to serve the millions of people who benefit from HUD programs. Legal Honors receive challenging assignments, job-related training, guidance from mentors, and a chance to broaden their experiences with rotations within OGC. Many of our past Legal Honors have enjoyed long successful careers in OGC, rising in the ranks to become Assistant, Associate
and Deputy General Counsel in Headquarters as well as Associate Regional Counsel and Regional Counsel in the field. Former Legal Honors play significant leadership roles throughout the country within and outside of HUD.

Operating as usual

Yesterday, the OGC-DEC held an outstanding Holiday Virtual Team Building Event. There was a main Live Event, celebrating...
12/11/2020

Yesterday, the OGC-DEC held an outstanding Holiday Virtual Team Building Event. There was a main Live Event, celebrating OGC and its employees. The event was festive and interactive and hosted by HUD OGC staff. Hundreds of employees participated virtually to celebrate their own offices’ accomplishments, share in holiday spirit, and compete for trivia bragging rights glory.

Following the main event there were various game rooms and activities for smaller group dynamics with lots of exciting prizes and engagement opportunities. The games and activities included Taboo, Trivia, Bingo, 3 Truths and a Lie, and Karaoke. The staff had a wonderful time.

Krissy Bodnar, Legal Honors class of 2019-2020 and current Attorney-Advisor from the Cleveland Field Office, was one of the winners of the Karaoke contest. She was thrilled to be a part of it: “I attended the Karaoke small merriment gathering following the OGC-DEC Virtual Team Building Event hosted by OGC managers. Many of my colleagues participated in the fun, including employees singing “I See Bones” by Allan Sherman and “Ben” by Michael Jackson. Coming prepared with my ukulele, I sang “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver. There were even a few group sing-alongs, including “Jingle Bells” and the Temptations version of “Silent Night.” There were lots of laughs and many outstanding performances!

Nicole Mendez, also part of the Legal Honors class of 2019-2020, and Attorney-Advisor in the New Orleans field office, noted that she loved the holiday team building event: “It was a good way to bring people together, to connect with co-workers across regions that what we don’t typically work with. All the hosts did a wonderful job of keeping us entertained, we laughed so much!”
After the main festivities, the 2020 #hudlegalhonors class hosted a virtual Holiday party for the current class. The Legal Honors attorneys reflected on their time in the program and shared what they were most grateful for and their New Year’s Resolutions. Ariel Chang, 2020 Legal Honors Class, Attorney-Advisor in the Boston regional office, and hostess extraordinaire, shared that she was especially grateful “to have a fulfilling, stable job, and to be with her loved ones in health.” The Legal Honors attorneys then played a competitive game of legal trivia, where Kate Upton, current class of #hudlegalhonors came out victorious and impressed everyone with her skills!

Spotlight:  Former Legal Honors Program Attorney continues to shine!Ocoszio Jackson, Attorney-Advisor in HUD’s Office of...
12/09/2020

Spotlight: Former Legal Honors Program Attorney continues to shine!

Ocoszio Jackson, Attorney-Advisor in HUD’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) Regional Office in Atlanta, was recently honored with an invitation to join The National Black Lawyers’ Association’s Top 40 Under 40 list of lawyers. The National Black Lawyers is an invitation-only organization, comprised of attorneys recognized for their superior qualifications, legal results, and professional leadership. Current members submit nominations of attorneys who represent the ideals of the organization, they are then vetted and ultimately extended an invitation.

The recognition was a surprise for Ocoszio. “The invitation arrived in my email inbox one morning. I did not know I had been nominated. It was shocking.” For Ocoszio, it is meaningful to be recognized for his contributions as a government attorney among a group of attorneys who are leaders in their practice areas. “I see it as a recognition of the work I’ve done at HUD. It is special to be recognized for the contributions one makes to the legal community. Often, we are working but cannot see the outcomes of our work. I am honored to be a part of this group, and to have the members as resources in the future.”

It is easy to see why Ocoszio would be nominated for this award. After just a few years in the agency, Ocoszio has closed almost one billion dollars’ worth of federally assisted transactions, furthering the agency’s mission to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. He is well respected by his peers and supervisors and is always ready to mentor and help others.

However, achieving success did not come easy for Ocoszio. He does not come from wealth, grew up in a small town in Georgia, is a first-generation college student, and the first lawyer in his family. He credits his grandmother for instilling the value of education and imparting the passion for public service. “My grandmother had strong values and taught us that we should care for others, love our neighbors.” More importantly, his grandmother made sure that he had the knowledge and access to information necessary to achieve his goals. This ingrained in Ocoszio a desire for excellence in education, which translated to graduating at the top of his high school class, college, and attending a top-tier law school. “I was fortunate and blessed to have opportunities. However, when these opportunities come, you have to be prepared” notes Ocoszio, who advises others in the community to work really hard, seek out challenges, and to always be ready and prepared for when those opportunities come. “Opportunity is given when effort is noticed” is one of Ocoszio’ s favorite mantras. “If you are lacking in any professional area, you need to figure out how to improve that area. Further your education, your skillset, be ready when opportunity comes your way.”

Ocoszio is especially grateful for HUD’s Legal Honors Program, which he graduated from in 2018. The Legal Honors Program allowed him to explore an area of the law that he did not have familiarity with before. “As a Legal Honors Attorney, you are given the opportunity to develop expertise, and become a subject matter expert very early in your career. I loved the opportunity to rotate as a Legal Honor, to experience working in Headquarters, with dozens of attorneys, engaging in policy discussions, and then working in the field office, with just one other attorney.” To this day, Ocoszio stays involved with the Legal Honors Program, volunteering on Orientation panels, acting as a mentor, and offering advice to other Legal Honors. His words of wisdom to the next generation of HUD attorneys include “figure out your weaknesses,” “build mentorship relationships,” “maintain a professional reputation,” and “focus on being proficient and accept diverse work.” For many like Ocoszio, the Legal Honors Program has been the space to develop expertise, grow as an attorney, and engage in meaningful legal work. “The Agency leans on us to come up to speed quickly and be responsible for the assignments given. I remember I passed the Bar exam and the next week I had a closing.”

Now that Ocoszio is being recognized for his contributions in the legal community, he is even more unwavering in his commitment to public service. “HUD OGC gives me the space to be successful and contribute and be my best. I am much happier, and content as compared to peers who are in the private sector, both personally and professionally.” Many HUD attorneys share that sentiment, enjoying a good work /life balance and having a level of control over the matters they are working on. “I care about what I do. I want to do a good job. I want my clients to understand the risks associated with the transactions HUD is involved in. It’s gratifying to know my work is impactful and I am appreciative to be part of HUD.”

Ocoszio’ s future is brighter than ever. He is looking forward to growing as an attorney in the Atlanta Regional Office and one day serving in a leadership capacity. He sees the National Black Lawyers’ Association’s 40 under 40 recognition as a way to elevate the work that he is doing, and as a platform to volunteer and mentor young African American men in Atlanta, especially those who are interested in working in law and public service. He believes it is important for black attorneys to be recognized. “It is humbling and gratifying because there is a need to recognize black attorneys who are making a contribution in the community, as we are a small subset of the legal profession.” More than anything, Ocoszio is happy to share this recognition with his grandmother who raised him, family, friends, and his mentors at HUD.

Congratulations Ocoszio on your recognition! The Legal Honors Program and OGC are looking forward to the contributions you will continue to make in the years to come!

Check out this story for some insight into what makes  #hudlegalhonors so special!The Denver OGC Regional Office recentl...
12/04/2020

Check out this story for some insight into what makes #hudlegalhonors so special!

The Denver OGC Regional Office recently enjoyed a unique employee engagement activity to welcome Maria Malaver, who was selected to be part of the 2020-2021- Legal Honors Program class. The Legal Honors Program is HUD’s primary recruitment tool for entry-level attorneys.
Maria found out that she was accepted into the Program the day before she sat for the Colorado Bar exam. “This year has been tough. However, knowing that I had a job as I was preparing to take the Bar exam was a big weight lifted off my shoulders and helped me feel more at ease during the exam.” Maria was interested in the Legal Honors Program for many reasons. She knew she wanted to work in a place that would embrace diversity, offer meaningful and substantive legal work, and allow her to make a difference in her community. Through her previous work with government agencies while in law school, Maria knew a job with HUD would check those boxes. Since arriving at HUD’s Denver, Colorado Regional Office, Maria has hit the ground running. She has worked on both multi-family transactions and litigation cases and witnessed the impact of her job in promoting HUD’s mission to create sustainable communities and provide affordable homes.
Above all, despite a challenging year, Maria has felt welcomed and supported by her supervisors and co-workers in numerous ways. For instance, her supervisors called to congratulate her for passing the Bar within minutes after Colorado published the Bar exam results online. Later, the office organized a socially distanced picnic in the park to welcome her and celebrate her achievement. Many of the office’s attorneys met at a Denver area park, shared good food, and got to meet Maria in person for the first time, all while socially distancing and following local health ordinances. “It’s just something we do. We like to celebrate the work of our attorneys; their professional and personal accomplishments,” says Matt Mussetter, Denver Regional Counsel, and 2004 Legal Honors Program graduate. “It was a way for us to get to know the new Legal Honors and let Maria know how proud we were that she passed the Bar under such challenging times.”
Matt knows the importance of providing support early on in your career. “Law school does not teach you about the practice of law. It is very hard to practice law without the mentorship and support of seasoned attorneys.” Matt sees the Legal Honors Program as a perfect space to learn the ropes, build confidence, and become a better attorney. He believes a supervisor is a mentor and should push employees to grow. And feedback should be a two-way street. To this point, Matt keeps in touch with Maria and his team regularly via phone calls and video conferencing. Before the pandemic, he would take them out for coffee chats, but for now, unique employee engagement activities, like Maria’s picnic, are great alternatives to stay connected.
Clearly, the ability to learn in a low stress environment, with the full support of remarkable supervisors and seasoned attorneys is what makes HUD’s Legal Honors Program a great option for law graduates. Now more than ever, HUD’s Legal Honors Program is dedicated to excellence and committed to crafting the next generation of HUD attorneys. Additional information about the Legal Honors Program, can be found at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/general_counsel/legalhonorsprogram

11/17/2020

Thank you to everyone who applied to this year’s HUD/OGC Legal Honors Program, JOA 20-HUD-2454-X. The job announcement closed on November 2, 2020 and we received over 370 applications.

Currently, the Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS) is conducting a review of the applicants to determine basic eligibility, minimum qualifications, and veterans’ preference. Applicants will usually be evaluated based on the scores that they receive from the online, self-assessment questionnaire. Based on the results of the minimum qualifications and evaluation stage by BFS, the Office of General Counsel will receive a list of eligible applicants. BFS will also notify the applicants of their referral/non-referral status during this stage.

We anticipate starting the next phase of evaluations on/around December 5, 2020 by legal subject matter experts (SMEs).

Happy Belated Veterans Day and thank you to all who have or are still serving!  We would like to highlight a veteran of ...
11/12/2020

Happy Belated Veterans Day and thank you to all who have or are still serving! We would like to highlight a veteran of this year's Legal Honors class, Jean Bermudez Del Valle.
Jean, a native of Puerto Rico, joined the United States Army as a Military Police Officer and Attended the Military Police Officer Course in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. He was stationed in Hawaii where he spent 5 years in active duty. As a Military Police Officer, he trained over 250 Soldiers, executed over 50 weapons ranges, and conducted two fourth of July community policing events. During his time in the military he also earned a master’s degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Turabo, Puerto Rico (Magna Cum Laude). Upon leaving the military, Jean went back to school to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer. He earned his law degree this year and was selected among a competitive field of candidates into HUD’s Legal Honors Program. Jean notes that “HUD is a great place for Veterans because it allows you to keep serving your Country and its Citizens in a meaningful way.” Thank you for your service Jean!

Deadline to apply for HUD's Legal Honors Program is today, November 2, 2020 by 11:59 PM EST. Don't delay, submit your co...
11/02/2020
LAW CLERK (LEGAL HONORS INTERN)

Deadline to apply for HUD's Legal Honors Program is today, November 2, 2020 by 11:59 PM EST. Don't delay, submit your completed application now!!
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/581386200

This position is located in the Office of General Counsel (OGC). There are 10 vacancies open that can be filled in the following locations: Boston, MAChicago, ILKansas City, KSNew York, NYPhiladelphia, PASan Francisco, CASeattle, WAWashi...

Congratulations to the 2020 class!!The 2020 Legal Honors Program Graduation took place on October 22nd, 2020, where 12 L...
11/02/2020

Congratulations to the 2020 class!!

The 2020 Legal Honors Program Graduation took place on October 22nd, 2020, where 12 Legal Honors attorneys received their certificate of completion and were congratulated for their hard work and motivation during the past year. As the first fully virtual graduation ceremony, it was well attended by many OGC colleagues, friends, and family members!

Principal Deputy General Counsel Michael Williams congratulated the graduates and spoke on how honorable and fulfilling it is to be a public servant and carry out HUD’s mission of creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. Deputy Assistant General Counsel for Office of Assisted Housing and Community Development, Community Development Division, Nicola Sanders, served as the mistress of ceremony, highlighting the accomplishments of the graduating Legal Honors attorneys.

Mr. Robert Couch, former HUD General Counsel and current federal financial monitor served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. Mr. Couch, speaking to the graduating class, said: “you are working in a great agency. You can see the results from the mission of the agency all over the country. You should be proud of working in OGC. It’s made up of dedicated professionals who are dedicated to make sure HUD’s mission is fulfilled.” He highlighted that roughly half of all OGC leaders started in HUD’s Legal Honors Program, and told the graduating class that they “have the raw materials to continue the tradition of growing the leaders of the future.” Mr. Couch also highlighted the qualifications of the graduating class, where many have master’s degree, are multi-lingual, and served in the Military and Peace Corps. He concluded by imparting words of wisdom such as “don’t let the excellent be the enemy of the good,” learn to “get used to transitions,” and try to “incorporate humor” as much as possible. After the keynote speech, Michael Williams virtually presented the Legal Honors attorneys with their diplomas and wished them the best of luck in their careers.

Congratulations again to the class of 2020!

Antonio Camacho-Camacho
Bryan Banning
Kristina Bodnar
Ariel Chang
Jared Fink
Maureen Hartshorn
Helen Huang
Nicole Mendez
Jose Montalvo-Rodriguez
Jada Moss
Kimberly Stratton
Carlos Quijada

10/16/2020
www.hud.gov

Law Students and Eligible Law School Graduates: Interested in Public Service? The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has the mission to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. You can be a part of this mission! The Office of General Counsel's 2021-2022 Legal Honors Application is now available. Apply now!
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/581386200

For more information, please take a look at this brochure:
https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/ENF/documents/OGC%202021-2022%20Legal%20Honors%20Brochure%20FINAL%2010-16-2020.pdf

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