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Office of General Counsel

Honors Information

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Legal Honors Program allows a small number of exceptionally qualified recent law school graduates to obtain a broad exposure to the practice of national security law over a three-year period.  Honors Program Attorneys typically will be assigned to two different Divisions within the CIA’s Office of General Counsel during the course of the program, although some may actually have three different assignments.  Factors considered in assigning Honors Program attorneys will be the needs of the Office, the skill sets needed to succeed in a career within the Office of General Counsel, and the background and skills of the Honors attorney.

The Office of General Counsel has designated a senior attorney to serve as the formal coordinator for the Honors Program.  The coordinator will ensure that all Honors Program Attorneys have mentors within the Office of General Counsel who can assist them in acclimating to CIA and the practice of law, and that all Honors Attorneys are afforded the opportunity to participate in relevant training courses.

The CIA Office of General Counsel is responsible for advising the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) on all legal matters relating to his role as head of the CIA, and his role as head of the US Intelligence Community (which consists of CIA and all of the other intelligence agencies in the US Government).  Thus, the General Counsel, who heads the Office of General Counsel, is the principal legal officer for the CIA and the DCI’s Community Management Staff (CMS).  The Office of General Counsel also provides advice and guidance to those officers and employees within the CIA and CMS who have specific responsibility for the conduct of US intelligence activities.  It should be noted that the CIA is a foreign intelligence agency, not a law enforcement agency, and is expressly prohibited by law from having any police or law enforcement powers, or internal security functions.

  The CIA Office of General Counsel handles, among other things, legal issues relating to foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities, international terrorism, international narcotics trafficking, nonproliferation, personnel and security matters, clandestine movement of materials and supplies, contracting, finance and budget matters, legislation, and both civil and criminal litigation.  The Office of General Counsel consists of approximately 100 attorneys with a variety of backgrounds and experience.

A Top Secret security clearance is required for all persons who work at the CIA, including Honors Program Attorneys.  US citizenship is also required.  The CIA’s personnel screening process (which includes medical and polygraph examinations and a background investigation) generally takes between six to nine months to complete.

Subject to the successful completion of the personnel screening process, Honors Program candidates will be brought into the Honors Program as CIA staff employees.  Honors Program Attorneys are allowed 14 months in which to successfully complete the bar examination from any of the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or the US Virgin Islands.  Honors Program Attorneys who have just graduated from law school will be paid at the rate of GS-11, Step 4.

The CIA is an equal opportunity employer, and all interested applicants are encouraged to apply.  Please send a resume, law school transcript, legal writing sample, and legal references to:

Legal Honors Program
Office of General Counsel
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505