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security clearance expert

My case involves highly personal information.  How do you protect my security and privacy?

We treat your personal information like you would treat it, never taking for granted the trust that you place in us. Accordingly, we have developed a privacy and security policy which we encourage you to read by clicking here.

I have a DISS (formerly JPAS) Incident Report. Can you  help me fight this?

If you are NOT currently in a cleared position: The government will not adjudicate your case until and unless you find a cleared contractor or federal agency willing to “sponsor” your clearance. When you do, the sponsoring organization will submit a request in DISS (JPAS), notifying the government that the incident report needs to be resolved. If you then receive a Statement of Reasons, interrogatories, or a request to complete a new SF-86, call us. Regrettably, there is nothing that we or any other attorney can do for you until that point. Read more about the issue here.

If you ARE currently in a cleared position: Check out this helpful article from Bigley Ranish partner Sean Bigley.

I want to sue an employer for a security clearance-related issue. Can you represent me?

Unfortunately, we do not practice civil litigation and cannot offer referrals or recommendations for other law firms. We encourage you to make use of your local bar association’s attorney referral service. 

What is the process for fighting a security clearance denial or revocation?

The first step is a response to the Statement of Reasons (“SOR”) or Notice of Determination (“NOD”) – a document the government issues outlining the exact reasons for your security clearance denial.  A strong legal response to the SOR / NOD is critical for several reasons: (1) a good response can mitigate the government’s concerns about you and result in the immediate granting of a clearance; (2) the SOR / NOD is often your first opportunity to provide the government with your side of the story; and, (3) your response locks you into a specific line of defense, limiting the evidence you can later introduce at a formal hearing.  Applicants should never attempt to respond to an SOR or NOD without legal representation.

In the event that the response does not lead to the clearance being granted, the next step at most agencies is a formal hearing before a judge or senior security official. These hearings are held in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. or remotely by video-conference.  The important thing to understand is that these proceedings are usually akin to a court trial.  There is a government attorney arguing why you should not be granted your clearance, a court reporter, and the ability to present witnesses and evidence.  It is crucial that applicants have an attorney who is well-versed not only in the substantive law of security clearance matters, but also the Federal Rules of Evidence and Administrative Procedure.

Finally, applicants denied a clearance initially can mount an appeal to a panel of administrative judges or senior government officials, depending on the agency.  The appeal is an opportunity to present evidence of procedural irregularities, such as a failure of the first-level deciding official to consider relevant evidence or the presence of improper bias against the applicant.  At some agencies, but not all, the appellant is prohibited from re-arguing the merits of his or her case or introducing new evidence.

Do I really need an Attorney to represent me in this process?

Effective legal representation can be costly – but so is losing your career. Ultimately, the decision to seek legal representation is a personal one only you can make. But remember that the government will most likely be represented by an experienced and aggressive attorney.  Do you really want to fight that battle alone?

Security clearance applicants should also bear in mind that statements they make to the government – whether on the SF-86 form, during a polygraph examination, or in the course of a denial hearing – can have serious legal ramifications outside the security clearance realm. Only a licensed and qualified attorney can adequately protect your rights.