Attorney Honors Program: Law Clerk, GS-904-11 and Attorney, GS-905-11/12/13

Silver Spring, Maryland
Aug 16, 2022
Aug 24, 2022
Full Time

An extraordinary opportunity is available to start your legal career in Fall 2023 in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of the General Counsel by gaining a position through its selective Attorney Honors Program. As an Attorney-Advisor in the Attorney Honors Program, you will work closely with experienced NOAA scientists and other program specialists on a variety of cutting-edge issues relating to the management and conservation of natural resources. This position requires interaction with other NOAA General Counsel Office attorneys, NOAA scientists, policy makers and technical staff, Department of Commerce officials, other Federal and state agency officials, members of the regulated community, and representatives of public interest organizations. It also involves active participation, in concert with U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, in prosecuting and defending NOAA cases brought under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Oil Pollution Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and other similar laws. The work involves complex and challenging legal issues on important matters.

The NOAA Office of the General Counsel employs approximately 110 attorneys at headquarters in the Silver Spring, MD/Washington, DC area and six regional offices. The Office provides legal advice to the NOAA Administrator and NOAA program offices on a wide variety of legal issues including U.S. and international fisheries, marine mammals, endangered and threatened marine species, preservation of coastal areas, marine sanctuaries, and licensing of commercial satellites.

NOAA is a premier environmental agency located within the U.S. Department of Commerce and employs over 12,000 individuals nationwide. NOAA is an agency that enriches life through science. Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep citizens informed of the changing environment around them.

From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, NOAA's products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America's gross domestic product. NOAA's dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need when they need it.

NOAA's roots date back to 1807, when the Nation's first scientific agency, the Survey of the Coast, was established. Since then, NOAA has evolved to meet the needs of a changing country. NOAA maintains a presence in every state and has emerged as an international leader on scientific and environmental matters.

NOAA's mission touches the lives of every American and we are proud of our role in protecting life and property and conserving and protecting natural resource. For more information see and .

NOAA GC will host a webinar for interested candidates.

Please see the NOAA GC Honors Program webpage for details at: .


Conditions of Employment

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or National to apply.
  • Must complete a 2 year trial period unless a preference eligible veteran.
  • Applicant must successfully complete a background security investigation.
  • Applicant must be registered for Selective Service (males only).
  • Applicant must be able to start work on or by September 2023.
  • Selected applicants must agree to a three-year employment commitment.

Due to COVID-19, the agency is currently in an expanded telework posture. NOAA received notice of reintegration to occur on April 25, 2022. As employees are permitted to return to the office, you will need to follow management's guidelines on the expectation of reporting to the duty station listed on this announcement. You may be eligible to request to telework depending upon the terms of the agency's telework policy.

Significant academic achievement in law school (such as ranking in the top 20% of the class), graduation with honors, judicial clerking experience, or participation in law review, will be favorably considered.

Applicants must pass a bar examination and be an active member of the bar (any U.S. jurisdiction) within 14 months of entry on duty in Fall 2023.

Individuals selected for this Honors Program must agree to a commitment to remain with the Office of the General Counsel for a minimum of three years from the date of his/her original appointment.

The incumbent is required to complete a Confidential Financial Disclosure Report (OGE Form 450), within 30 days after entrance-on-duty date, and annually thereafter.

This position has a positive education requirement: transcripts and proof of Bar membership MUST be provided with your application package to receive further consideration.

Are There Any Special Requirements For This Position?

-A background investigation will be required for this position. Continued employment will be subject to the applicant's successful completion of a background security investigation and favorable adjudication. Failure to successfully meet these requirements will be grounds for termination.

-Throughout the recruitment and hiring process we will be communicating with you via email; therefore, it is imperative that the email address you provide when applying for this vacancy remains active. Should your email address change, please notify the point of contact identified in the vacancy announcement as soon as possible so that we can update our system.

Applicants must meet ALL application requirements, by 11:59 p.m. EASTERN TIME (ET) on the closing date of this announcement.


Eligibility Requirements: This program is available to recent law students who have graduated or will graduate by June 2023.

Honors Program selectees are required to pass a Bar examination and be duly licensed to practice as an attorney in any state, territory, or the District of Columbia within 14 months of original appointment under this Program.

Individuals selected for this Honors Program are expected to begin working in September 2023 in Silver Spring, MD.
  • Law School graduates not yet admitted to the Bar as of September 2023, will be placed in Law Clerk positions at the GS-11 level pending admission to the Bar, at which time they will be eligible for conversion to an Attorney position.
  • Law School graduates who have been admitted to the Bar will be placed in Attorney positions at the GS-11 level.
  • Law School graduates who have been admitted to the Bar and have completed 1 year of legal experience (may include a Judicial Clerkship) will be placed in Attorney positions at the GS-12 level.

While tentative offers to the NOAA OGC Honors Program will be made well in advance of the September 2023 start date, final confirmation of appointment is contingent upon the availability of funds at that time.

Qualification Requirements:

Law Clerk, GS-0904-11:

Graduated or will graduate from law school with a LL.B. or J.D.Appointments as a Law Clerk are limited to 14 months during which time appointee must be admitted in good standing to the bar of a court of general jurisdiction of a state, territory or possession of the United States and after which will be appointed to a permanent appointment as an Attorney.

There is no promotion potential for Law Clerks.

Attorne y , GS-0905-11/12/13:

All applicants must have a J.D. degree from an accredited law school, and must be an active member in good standing of a State bar; the bar of the District of Columbia; the bar of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; the bar of one of the U.S. Territories or the bar of one of the U.S. Possessions.

Attorneys are considered for promotion on each annual anniversary date based on successful performance and management recommendation.


You are required to provide a law school transcript (unofficial) which includes semester hours earned and grades received, by the closing date of this announcement. This proof may be faxed, document uploaded, or hand delivered to the servicing Human Resources Office (see "Required Documents" and/or "Contact Information"). Please ensure that all documentation is legible.

Significant academic achievement in law school (such as ranking in the top 20% of the class), graduation with honors, judicial clerkship experience, or participation in law review, will be favorably considered.

Additional information

Attorneys in the Honors Program are hired at the GS-11 pay grade. If you served as a judicial law clerk or in a legal fellowship for at least one year or earned an advanced law degree (LLM or equivalent) within two years of obtaining your J.D., you will start at the GS-12 pay grade. Attorneys joining the Attorney Honor Program following multiple-year judicial clerkships may be hired at the GS-13 pay grade. The decision will be made on a case-by-case basis. Please check OPM's salary tables for current salaries for the Silver Spring, MD/Washington, DC area:

If you have passed the bar by the time you enter on duty in Fall 2023, you will join the NOAA Office of the General Counsel as an Attorney-Advisor. If you have not yet passed the bar, you will join as a Law Clerk at the GS-11 pay grade, and will become an Attorney-Advisor once you pass the bar. You must pass a bar examination and be an active member of the bar (any U.S. jurisdiction) within 14 months of entry on duty in Fall 2023.

During the first 18 months of the program, you will participate in three six-month rotations in the legal sections located in the Washington, D.C. area. You may volunteer to work in a regional office as your third rotation. We will make reasonable efforts to accommodate your preference for rotations, consistent with the needs of the Office.

At the end of the third rotation and consistent with the needs of the Office, you will be permanently placed in a specific legal section, making reasonable efforts to take into account your preferences for a permanent location. While we expect to place attorneys in one of the Silver Spring, MD/Washington, D.C. area sections, you may request permanent placement in one of the six regional sections. If a permanent placement involves a change in location, you will be responsible for your relocation costs.

NOAA GC will host a webinar for interested candidates. Please see the NOAA GC Honors Program webpage for details at: