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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

About FDA

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Attorney Positions at FDA

Description of Position

The Food and Drug Administration's Office of Chief Counsel is actively seeking experienced attorneys and third-year law students for permanent positions (and second-year law students for paid summer internships).  No other federal agency touches the daily life of citizens as directly as the FDA. In regulating about 20 percent U.S. consumer spending, the FDA is responsible for the safety and effectiveness of two trillion dollars worth of products a year - including items as diverse as artificial hearts, surgical lasers, gene therapy, cloned animals, genetically engineered foods, counterterrorism measures, and nanotechnology products.  The agency is at the unique intersection of law, policy, & science.

Attorneys in the Office of Chief Counsel have the opportunity to have an immediate and present effect on public health and law across in the country.  They advise the FDA on legal matters and represent the agency in court proceedings and in administrative hearings.  They participate in both civil and criminal cases; draft pleadings, motions and briefs; and participate in discovery and trials.  Lawyers also serve as counselors to the major programs of the agency: drugs, foods, biologics, devices, veterinary products, tobacco products, and enforcement.  They provide legal opinions, and participate in rulemaking proceedings, legislative matters, policy deliberations, and international negotiations.  In addition, lawyers are involved in explaining agency programs to Congress, the regulated industry, and the public. The agency offers a fascinating work environment with a range of daily challenges.

Grade (Salary) Levels

FDA hires experienced attorneys and 3Ls for permanent positions, and 2Ls for summer internships. A record of strong academic achievement; outstanding research, writing, and analytical skills; and interest in public service are essential.

Starting salaries for experienced attorneys range from GS-12/1 to GS-14/10 ($74,872 to $136,771 in 2010), with promotion potential up to GS-15/10 ($155,500 in 2010).

The starting salary for most law school graduates is at the GS-11/1 level ($62,467 in 2010). Those who have completed a judicial clerkship can be paid at the GS-12/1 level ($74,872 in 2010).

Summer interns who have completed their second year of law school can receive a salary at the GS-7/1 level ($812/week in 2010).

Office Size/Responsibility

The FDA Office of Chief Counsel consists of about 95 lawyers and 25 support staff. It is located at the FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

The Office is a component of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Office works closely with other components of OGC and with other federal agencies including:

  • the Department of Justice on court litigation
  • the Federal Trade Commission on advertising issues
  • the Department of Agriculture on food products
  • the Environmental Protection Agency on environmental and pesticide issues
  • the Federal Bureau of Investigation on criminal matters
  • the Department of State on international matters
  • the Customs Service on imported products
  • the Drug Enforcement Administration on controlled substances
  • and the Postal Service on mail fraud.

New lawyers are given substantial responsibility. They have their own agency clients, a variety of work assignments, and considerable opportunity to challenge their abilities and develop their practice and expertise.

A Rewarding Career

The Office is a leader in innovative programs and activities that allow employees to maintain their high professional performance while balancing their home and family lives.

If you have an interest in public health protection, and if you want the satisfaction that comes from public service and working with highly motivated colleagues who are dedicated to integrity, excellence, respect, and enjoying their work, you will find a rewarding career and exciting opportunities for professional growth on the FDA legal staff.

FDA is an equal opportunity employer. More information about the agency can be found on the FDA Web site at www.fda.gov.

More information about the office is available at the Office of Chief Counsel home page. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, and writing sample to the Executive Officer, Office of the Chief Counsel, FDA, White Oak 32 Room 4532, Silver Spring, MD 20993 or via email to the Recruiting Committee.