ACUS Considers Best Practices for Recruiting and Hiring Agency Attorneys

Attorneys serve crucial roles within federal agencies. They defend agencies in litigation, draft regulations, investigate complaints, and resolve legal issues surrounding information disclosure. Attorneys support nearly all the operations of their agencies, helping to ensure their fair and successful functioning.

Building on ACUS’s June 2019 recommendation on Agency Recruitment and Selection of Administrative Law Judges, ACUS is now undertaking a project on Recruiting and Hiring Agency Attorneys.

This project will focus on the process for recruiting and hiring agency attorneys listed under Schedule A of the excepted service. As with the hiring process for ALJs, the hiring process for Schedule A attorneys is generally subject to a more streamlined set of requirements than that required for competitive service employees. ACUS will examine how agencies conduct outreach to potential attorney candidates, write and post vacancy announcements, and assess applicants.

This past summer, ACUS’s Office of the Chairman convened a roundtable of government and private sector experts to discuss how to improve the hiring process for Schedule A attorneys. The results of the discussion, along with ACUS’s in-house legal research into excepted service hiring authorities, has been published in a report by ACUS Attorney Advisors Todd Phillips and Todd Rubin.

An ACUS ad hoc committee met on October 15 and will meet again on October 28 to draft recommendations to agencies on best practices for recruiting and hiring Schedule A attorneys. If the Committee approves a recommendation and the ACUS Council places it on the agenda for the Assembly’s consideration, the ACUS Assembly will discuss and vote on the recommendation during ACUS’s December 2019 plenary session.

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