Executive Deputy Principal Legal Advisor

Washington, D.C
Oct 05, 2022
Oct 12, 2022
Full Time

The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) protects the homeland by diligently litigating cases while adhering to the highest standards of professional conduct, providing timely and accurate legal advice, and optimizing resources to advance the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) missions. As the Executive Deputy Principal Legal Advisor, the incumbent serves as the senior career deputy to the Principal Legal Advisor (PLA) for ICE. The incumbent is primarily responsible for assisting the PLA in executing the OPLA mission, discharging the statutory obligations of representing the United States in immigration court proceedings, and providing a full range of legal counsel and advice to ICE offices and programs. The work requires the ability to conceptualize, develop, and recommend legal options to ICE and DHS leadership, and the ability to explain and defend decisions based on those options to Congress, professional groups, other Federal agencies, and high-ranking officials in the private sector.

The incumbent will be responsible for the following:

Serves as the senior advisor to the PLA on all matters affecting the program's operations. Identifies and resolves broad technical and managerial problems. Ensures the proper interpretation or, and the adherence to, program policies and procedures, and establishes new policies and procedures as required. Solves complex problems that resist solution at subordinate levels and that have broad policy implications or involve large commitments of funds or personnel.

Provides legal advice to the General Counsel, the ICE Director, and other ICE senior leaders and oversees the preparation of legal memoranda and briefing materials in complex and novel matters.

Oversees the provision of legal advice and assistance to ICE officers and agents on matters involving violations of criminal and customs laws. Works closely with Department of Justice on the prosecution of criminal cases brought by ICE agents and officers and the defense of civil cases involving ICE before the U.S. District Courts, the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Oversees the provision of legal advice and assistance to ICE managers on administrative, fiscal, procurement, information disclosure, and labor and employment laws. Oversees the litigation by OPLA attorneys before tribunals such as, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and the Boards of Contract Appeals.

Provides guidance and support in connection with matters that may include highly controversial or sensitive issues, or previously undecided questions where adverse decisions would negatively affect ICE operations.

Oversees implementation of OPLA's strategic plan. Plans, directs, manages, supervises, and coordinates program objectives, and establishes priorities and policies for the effective accomplishment of OPLA's mission. Initiates and recommends the adoption of new policies and procedures designed to improve operations.

Evaluates and improves administrative methods and procedures, and effectively uses human resources, funds, and materials to accomplish the program's work. Develops budget estimates, and assures that resources are appropriately utilized. Promotes the development of alternative solutions to problems impacting the program's operations.

Implements and administers the various personnel and equal opportunity programs, assuring that personnel selection, promotion, performance appraisal, discipline, and other personnel and equal employment opportunity functions are performed within Federal, DHS, and agency guidelines and procedures. Personally complies with and ensures the compliance of subordinates with integrity standards and applicable laws, regulations, and instructions governing employee standards of conduct. Supports and implements the DHS's and agency's affirmative action efforts with respect to all positions under his or her supervision.


Conditions of Employment

  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply for this position.
  • Males born after 12/31/1959 must be registered for Selective Service.
  • You must submit to a pre-employment drug test.
  • You must be able to obtain/maintain a TS/SCI security clearance.
  • You may be required to undergo periodic drug testing.
  • You will serve a one-year probationary period unless you previously completed the probationary period in the SES.
  • Selectee will be required to complete form OGE-278, Executive Personnel Financial Disclosure Form.
  • You must possess a professional law degree (e.g., J.D., LL.B.) acquired through graduation from a School of Law accredited by the American Bar Association.
  • You must be an active member in good standing of the Bar of a state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a territory of the United States.


As a basic requirement for entry into the SES, applicants must provide evidence of progressively responsible executive leadership and supervisory experience that is indicative of senior executive level management capability and directly related to the skills and abilities outlined under Executive Core Qualifications and Technical Qualifications listed below. Typically, experience of this nature will have been gained at or above the GS-15 grade level in the federal service or its equivalent in the private sector.


Unless you are currently serving under a Career Senior Executive Service (SES) appointment, eligible for reinstatement into the SES, or a SES Candidate Development Program (CDP) graduate, you must address the ECQs. Your narrative must address each ECQ separately and demonstrate the underlying competencies in the narrative. Examples should be clear, concise, and emphasize your level of responsibilities; the scope and complexity of the programs, activities, or services you managed; program accomplishments; policy initiatives undertaken; level of contacts; the sensitivity and criticality of the issues you addressed; and the results of your actions. You should use action oriented leadership words to describe your experience and accomplishments and quantify your experience wherever possible to demonstrate your accomplishments (e.g., number of employees supervised; size of budget managed; amount of money saved, etc.). Applicants should use the Challenge, Context, Action and Results (CCAR) model below when responding to each ECQ:
  • CHALLENGE: Describe a specific problem or goal.
  • CONTEXT: Describe individuals and groups you worked with, and/or the environment in which you worked, to address a particular challenge (e.g., clients, members of Congress, shrinking budget, low morale).
  • ACTION: Describe the specific actions you took to address a challenge.
  • RESULT: Describe specific examples of measures/outcomes that had impact on the organization. These accomplishments demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of your leadership skills.
Your narrative response should not exceed 10 pages, be typed in 12 point font with one-inch margins. It is recommended that you include 2 recent (not older than 10 years) examples per ECQ and draft your ECQs in a Word document before uploading into the system to ensure these guidelines are met. Information that exceeds these guidelines will not be reviewed. Detailed information on each ECQ, the underlying and fundamental competencies, sample narratives and a tips sheet for writing effective ECQs are available in the "Guide To Senior Executive Service Qualifications" GUIDE (opm.gov) at Senior Executive Service Executive Core Qualifications

ECQ 1 - LEADING CHANGE . This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment. Leadership Competencies: Creativity & Innovation, External Awareness, Flexibility, Resilience, Strategic Thinking, Vision.

ECQ 2 - LEADING PEOPLE . This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization's vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts. Leadership Competencies: Conflict Management, Leveraging Diversity, Developing Others, Team Building.

ECQ 3 - RESULTS DRIVEN . This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks. Leadership Competencies: Accountability, Customer Service, Decisiveness, Entrepreneurship, Problem Solving, Technical Credibility.

ECQ 4 - BUSINESS ACUMEN . This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically. Leadership Competencies: Financial Management, Human Capital Management, Technology Management.

ECQ 5 - BUILDING COALITIONS . This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals. Leadership Competencies: Partnering, Political Savvy, Influencing/Negotiating.

NOTE: Those applicants currently serving under a career Senior Executive Service appointment, who are eligible for reinstatement into the Senior Executive Service, or who have successfully completed a Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program approved by OPM, need not submit a narrative statement covering each of the Executive Core Qualifications. However, those applicants must address the following Mandatory Technical Competencies.


In addition to the Executive Core Qualifications, all candidates must show evidence of the following TQs below in order to meet basic qualifications for this position. Please label and include your name on each page. Please give examples and explain how often you used your skills, the complexity of the knowledge possessed, the level of people you interacted with, the sensitivity of the issues you handled managing a large public or private sector organization that administers complex, rules-based benefits or services, etc. It is recommended that you draft your TQ(s) in a word document and then upload into the system. You must address each TQ separately and you should not exceed 2 pages per TQ. You are required to respond to all TQs. If you fail to do so, you will be rated as 'ineligible.'

Technical Qualifications - Mandatory

You will be evaluated on the following Technical Qualifications:

TQ 1. Demonstrated (1) an expert knowledge of immigration law and procedures; (2) a strong litigation background, particularly with regard to immigration, national security, and criminal prosecution; (3) service-minded leadership; (4) a demonstrated ability to successfully manage, supervise, and lead personnel in a complex national legal program involving a broad variety of legal disciplines; (5) a demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with operational elements in implementing, coordinating, and prosecuting enforcement initiatives; (6) a demonstrated ability to structure and lead major projects and initiatives, and to coordinate teams effectively; (7) a demonstrated ability to operate effectively during transition, and to master the changing structure and functions of a legal program, the agency, and the DHS; and (8) a demonstrated ability to work independently and decisively.

TQ 2. Candidates should have demonstrated management abilities involving both legal and logistical matters in an agency, law firm, or other organization. Candidates should have an ability to work with legal and policy professionals to evaluate and develop agency objectives, authorities and programs and have excellent legal writing skills that demonstrate clear and concise analysis.

DO NOT COMBINE THE TQ AND ECQ STATEMENTS. Failure to meet the basic qualification requirement and address all Mandatory Technical and Executive Core Qualification factors will result in your application being disqualified.

Veteran's Preference does not apply to the Senior Executive Service.


You must possess a professional law degree (e.g., J.D., LL.B.) acquired through graduation from a School of Law accredited by the American Bar Association, and be a member in good standing of the Bar of a state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a territory of the United States. You must submit documentation supporting that you meet this qualification when applying to this job opportunity announcement.

ducation must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications; applicant's resumes and supporting documentation should only reflect education received from schools accredited by such institutions. Applicants can verify accreditation at the following Website: http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html.

If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency (a U.S. private organization's interpretation that such education has been deemed at least equivalent to conventional U.S. education programs) with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education. For more information regarding evaluation of foreign education for federal employment, please visit the U.S. Department of Education webpage .

Additional information

Permanent Change of Duty Station (PCS) Expenses may be authorized at Management's discretion.

Recruitment/Relocation/Retention Incentive may be authorized at Management's discretion.

Background Investigation: To ensure the accomplishment of its mission, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires each and every employee to be reliable and trustworthy. To meet those standards, all selected applicants must undergo and successfully complete a background investigation for Top Secret/ Sensitive Compartment Information clearance as a condition of placement in this Special Sensitive position. This review includes financial issues such as delinquency in the payment of debts, child support and/or tax obligations, as well as certain criminal offenses and illegal use or possession of drugs.Any offers of employment made pursuant to this announcement will be consistent with all applicable authorities, including Presidential Memoranda, Executive Orders, interpretive U. S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance, and Office of Management and Budget plans and policies concerning hiring. These authorities are subject to change.

Pursuant to Executive Order 12654 and DHS policy, DHS is committed to maintaining a drug-free workplace and, therefore, conducts random and other drug testing of its employees in order to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Headquarters personnel in safety- or security-sensitive positions are subject to random drug testing and all applicants tentatively selected for employment at DHS Headquarters are subject to drug testing resulting in a negative test result.

If you receive a conditional offer of employment for this position, you will be required to complete an Optional Form 306, Declaration for Federal Employment, and to sign and certify the accuracy of all information in your application, prior to entry on duty. False statements on any part of the application may result in withdrawal of offer of employment, dismissal after beginning work, fine, or imprisonment.

DHS uses e-Verify , an Internet-based system, to confirm the eligibility of all newly hired employees to work in the United States. Learn more about E-Verify, including your rights and responsibilities.