District of Columbia, D.C
Apr 03, 2021
Apr 10, 2021
Full Time


EPA's Office of General Counsel invites talented and diverse attorneys to apply for an Attorney-Adviser position. This position is located in the National Freedom Of Information Act Office (NFO), Washington, DC.

Learn more about this agency


About the National FOIA Office

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reflects our country's fundamental commitment to government accountability and transparency. The National FOIA Office (NFO) leads EPA in discharging its responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act.

The NFO, located in the Office of General Counsel, provides legal advising services and a wide range of programmatic services pertaining to the Agency's implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, including FOIA request intake, assignment, clarification, determination of expedited processing and fee waiver requests, preparing monthly and annual FOIA reports, providing training, and reviewing and updating the Agency's FOIA regulations, policies, and procedures, and staffing the Agency's FOIA Requester Center and FOIA Public Liaison.

The NFO consists of two teams. The FOIA Expert Assistance Team (FEAT) was created to provide concentrated attention to the most complex, voluminous, or potentially sensitive FOIA requests the Agency receives. The FEAT provides legal advice, technology expertise, and robust project management assistance to EPA's headquarters and regional offices ensuring that the Agency can rapidly, efficiently, and appropriately respond to the public's requests for information. The FOIA Operations and Reporting Team (FORT) performs the intake review and assignment of all FOIA requests EPA receives; it monitors EPA's FOIA implementation; and it recommends reports regarding EPA's FOIA performance to the Administrator, the Chief FOIA Officer, EPA Senior Leadership, and the Attorney General. The FORT staffs the EPA's FOIA Requester Center to assist the public with questions about how to file a request and the status of submitted FOIA requests. The FORT aids in the reviewing EPA FOIA regulations, policy, procedures, and guidelines, and it recommends to the Chief FOIA Officer adjustments to improve EPA's implementation of the FOIA. The FORT also assists in developing and delivering training to agency leadership, supervisors, FOIA professionals, and annual training to all staff.

In this position, you will:

The Attorney-Adviser hired for this position will work under the supervision of the Associate General Counsel in the NFO on matters arising under the Freedom of Information Act and, as appropriate, under the guidance of one or more practice group leaders. Receive preliminary and established instructions as to methods of approach, source material available, and Agency policy and precedent.

Provide advice and counseling in support of EPA's implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and other legal issues within the attorney's areas of responsibility, and develop expertise and provide advice in using technology tools for FOIA request processing and records management.

Analyze and anticipate legal issues with a problem-solving approach to support EPA Headquarters program and Regional offices on a wide variety of issues.

Conduct research of laws, legal opinions, precedent cases, and relevant Agency guidance and actions, as needed, to address complex and difficult legal issues, either on their own or as a member of a team in a larger case or rulemaking.

Analyze factual and legal issues presented to determine what further facts are needed and what legal sources are applicable.

Work closely alongside others with different viewpoints and social identities from your own (including race, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and genetic information).

Travel Required

Occasional travel - You may be required to travel less than 1 to 5 days per month.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential
14 - When entering a Federal job at a grade level lower than the highest promotion potential level, you may be promoted to more complex duties and work more independently, as your career progresses.


Conditions of Employment

Conditions of Employment
  • You must be a U.S. citizen
  • If you are selected, a pre-employment background check is required
  • You must submit a resume and required documents (See How to Apply)
  • You may be required to travel occasionally


Qualifications: Applicant must have an LL.B. or J.D. degree from an accredited law school; must be admitted to practice before the highest court of a State, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and must maintain active status as a member of the bar of one of these jurisdictions. Incumbent should have experience in providing legal advice and counsel at EPA, other federal, state or local agencies, or courts, non-governmental organizations, or in private practice.

If you are selected, you must complete a one-year trial period.

The ideal candidate will have a very strong academic and employment record, including evidence of nuanced legal analysis with respect to both statutory construction and applicable case law, excellent research and writing skills, superior oral and written communication, strong interpersonal skills, initiative and self-motivation, the ability to work effectively in a team and independently, a commitment to public service, and mature judgement and the ability to work with diverse persons and perspectives. Knowledge and relevant experience in administrative or environmental law, or both, preferred but not required.

Please identify in your written statement of interest/cover letter and resume any specialized experience in administrative and environmental law, if applicable. Note: Applicants must include a separate business-style resume with your application in lieu of the automated USAJobs resume. This document should be uploaded as part of your complete application packet described below under the Supporting Documentation Tab.

To qualify at the GS-11 grade level, applicants must have an LL.M degree or at least one year of post J.D. legal experience, one of which was specialized experience at, or equivalent to, the GS-9 grade level. Examples of specialized experience include: law clerk experience at the Federal, state or local level, performing legal analysis and formulating recommendations to senior managers; composing pleadings, briefs, and other court documents involving legal issues in counseling or litigation.

Applicants who meet the GS-9 requirement and in addition have superior law student activities while earning a JD degree. Superior law student activities include:
  • Academic standing in upper third of law school graduating class
  • Or Work or achievement of significance on law school's law review
  • Or special high-level honors for academic excellence, such as election to Order of the Coif
  • Or winning of a moot court competition or membership on the moot court team which represents the law school in competition with other law schools
  • Or full-time or continuous participation in a legal aid program or significant summer law office clerk experience or other equivalent evidence of clearly superior achievement, as determined by the hiring office.

To qualify at the GS-12 grade level, applicants must have at least two years post J.D. legal experience, one of which was specialized experience at, or equivalent to, the GS-11 grade level. Examples of specialized experience include: performing legal analysis and formulating recommendations to senior managers; composing pleadings, briefs, and other court documents involving legal issues in counseling or litigation.

Veterans : There is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Environmental Protection Agency considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans' preference must include that information in their cover letter or resume and attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation) to their submissions. Although the "point" system is not used, per se, applicants eligible to claim 10-point preference must submit Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and submit the supporting documentation required for the specific type of preference claimed (visit the OPM website, for a copy of SF 15, which lists the types of 10-point preferences and the required supporting document(s). Applicants should note that SF 15 requires supporting documentation associated with service- connected disabilities or receipt of nonservice-connected disability pensions to be dated 1991 or later except in the case of service members submitting official statements or retirement orders from a branch of the Armed Forces showing that his or her retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that he/she was transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).

More information on GS levels for the 0905 Attorney position are available at .

If you are selected, you will be required to complete a Confidential Financial Disclosure Form prior to your first day of employment and annually thereafter.

This position is designated as a Moderate Risk and requires a background investigation. Unless an appropriate background is already on record with the Office of Personnel Management, you must undergo a background investigation


Additional information

Diversity and Inclusion

At EPA, diversity is a vital element in bringing a balance of perspectives to bear on every challenge we face. We are committed to creating a diverse workforce because we know that the individual strengths and abilities of our employees make us a stronger organization. The more inclusive our employee base is, the greater the variety of ideas that are generated, and the more representative we are of the nation we serve. To learn more about how EPA values and supports our diverse workforce, visit Equal Opportunity Employment at EPA . You can also hear a diverse group of attorneys talk about their careers at EPA on the Legal Careers at EPA Webinar .

It is the policy of the Government not to deny employment simply because an individual has been unemployed or has had financial difficulties that have arisen through no fault of the individual. Information about an individual's employment experience will be used only to determine the person's qualifications and to assess his or her relative level of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Although an individual's personal conduct may be relevant in any employment decision, including conduct during periods of unemployment or evidence of dishonesty in handling financial matters, financial difficulty that has arisen through no fault of the individual will generally not itself be the basis of an unfavorable suitability or fitness determination. For more information, visit

These positions are in the bargaining unit.

EPA 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. For additional information:

If you are selected, travel, transportation, and relocation expenses will not be paid by EPA. Any travel, transportation, and relocation expenses associated with reporting to work in this position will be your responsibility.

Position has portable work and selectee may be eligible to telework.

This position is in the excepted service. Selection under this appointment authority does not confer civil service competitive status; however, this position is covered for the purpose of federal retirement and benefits.

Except in special circumstances, those new to the federal government will be hired at the starting salary (step 1) of the applicable grade range listed above.

If you are selected, you will be expected to report to work as soon as practical but no later than thirty (30) days from the date you receive a final job offer. Extension of this reporting requirement may be granted only under extraordinary circumstances.

How You Will Be Evaluated

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

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

Initially, you will be evaluated based on the information contained in your resume packet. If an interview is granted, you will be evaluated based on the responses you provide during an interview. In responding to interview questions, you should be sure to cite specific examples of experience, explain exactly what you did and the outcome.

There is no numerical rating system for applying veteran's preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Office of General Counsel considers veteran's preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring.

To preview questions please click here .

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance
Not Required

Drug test required

Required Documents

Documents to be submitted should be in PDF format only:
  • Resume (Please include a separate business-style resume with your application in lieu of the automated USAJobs resume.
  • Written statement (no more than two single-spaced pages) specifically addressing your qualifications for this position
  • A legal writing sample not to exceed 15 pages (for which the applicant was the primary author - with only minor (if any) edits by others). The writing sample should include a legal analysis section.
  • References (names and contact information of three professional references)
  • Copy of law school and undergraduate degree transcript (unofficial or official). Applicants must be graduates of a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.
  • Copy of bar certification
  • Veterans' Preference Documents - DD-214 Member 4 copy (or other copy indicating character of service), VA letter stating overall/combined disability rating (percentage), and SF-15, if applicable; active duty service members: submit certification from the armed forces documenting active duty dates, expected discharge/release date, campaign medals/badges, and character of service (a certification is any written document from the armed forces that certifies you are expected to be discharged/released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions within 120 days after you submit the certification).

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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