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

Silver Spring, Maryland
Oct 16, 2019
Oct 23, 2019
Full Time


Individuals selected will participate in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of the General Counsel's Attorney Honors Program. Those selected for the Law Clerk position cannot be promoted above the GS-11 level without meeting eligibility and qualification criteria for the Attorney position.

Learn more about this agency


IMPORTANT APPLICATION DEADLINE: This is an open continuous announcement. The initial cutoff date will be October 4, 2019. All applications received by this date will be eligible for referral provided candidates meet all eligibility and qualification requirements. Vacancies may not be available after the initial cutoff date.

An extraordinary opportunity is available to start your legal career in fall 2020 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 .

Travel Required

Occasional travel - Overnight domestic travel and may require foreign travel.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential
GS15 - Attorneys are considered for promotion on each annual anniversary date based on successful performance and management recommendation.There is no promotion potential for Law Clerks until being admitted to a bar and conversion to an Attorney position.


Conditions of Employment

  • Applicant must be a U.S. Citizen or National.
  • Applicant must complete a two-year trial period.
  • Applicant must successfully complete a background security investigation.
  • Applicant must be registered for Selective Service (males only).
  • Applicant must be able to start work by September, 2020.
  • Selected applicants must agree to a three-year employment commitment.

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 2020.

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.

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.


Eligibility Requirements: This program is available to recent law students who have graduated or will graduate by June 2020.

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 2020 in Silver Spring, MD.
  • --Law School graduates not yet admitted to the Bar as of September, 2020, 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 2020 start date, final confirmation of appointment is contingent upon the availability of funds at that time.

Qualification Requirements

Law Clerk, GS-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 will be appointed to a permanent appointment as an Attorney.

There is no promotion potential for Law Clerks.

Attorney, GS-11:

Graduated or will graduate from law school with a LL.B. or J.D.

Membership in good standing to the Bar of a State or Territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Attorney, GS-12:

Graduated or will graduate from law school with a LL.B. or J.D.

Membership in good standing to the Bar of a State or Territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and

One year of professional legal experience after admission to the bar at a level of difficulty comparable to the GS-11 level; or

Received an LL.M.


--You are required to provide a law school transcripts (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.

--Special Instructions for Foreign Education: Education completed in foreign colleges or universities must be evaluated in terms of equivalency to that acquired in U.S. colleges and universities. Applicants educated in whole or in part in foreign countries must submit sufficient evidence, including transcripts, to an accredited private organization for an equivalency evaluation of course work and degree. You MUST provide a copy of the letter containing the results of the equivalency evaluation with a course by course listing along with your application. Failure to provide such documentation by the closing date of the announcement will result in lost consideration.

Additional information

NOAA participates in e-Verify. E-Verify is an Internet based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA) that enables participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

Applicants will be evaluated based on the Qualifications described above. Please be advised that NOAA Attorney positions are in the Excepted Service. As such, these positions are not covered by the usual civil service hiring procedures. There are no numerical rating systems through which to apply veterans preference; however, the NOAA Office of the General Counsel favorably considers veterans preference eligibility in hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans preference are encouraged to include that information in their cover letter or resume, and to attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD Form-214 or other substantiating documents) to their submissions.

To preview questions please click here .

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Required Documents

A complete application consists of the following:

Cover Letter, resume and law school transcript. Please include your GPA and class rank in your resume, if available. Your resume must indicate your citizenship, and whether you are registered for Selective Service if you are a male born after 12/31/59.

Please note that prior to receiving a formal offer, you will be asked to submit an official law school transcript or a list of courses that includes the following information: name of accredited institution, grades earned, completion dates, and quarter and semester hours earned. Applicants educated in whole or in part in foreign countries must submit sufficient evidence, including transcripts, to an accredited private organization for an equivalency evaluation of course work and degree and that evaluation must be provided with this application.

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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