The old saying “You get what you pay for” didn’t come from thin air. There is merit to it. But the flip side of that coin is a professional who charges an exorbitant fee for services which isn’t always a guarantee you’ve found the best professional for the job. Just as is the case in any line of work, some attorneys are better than others. Following are some valuable tips, should you find yourself in need of an attorney to assist you in completing an SF-86 security questionnaire or to help you through the appeal process if you’ve had your security clearance denied.
1. It never hurts to hire an attorney who’s a veteran, says John Griffith, a government security clearance expert.
“Those who need security clearance typically are in the military or are a government employee or contractor, so choosing an attorney with military experience means they understand the process and the importance of you getting your clearance as expeditiously as possible,” says Griffith, who served in the U.S. Army.
2. Don’t be embarrassed to ask about an attorney’s experience. You want to ensure you hire a professional who is qualified to help you should you be denied clearance and receive a Statement of Reasons. Ask how many statement of reasons cases he or she has handled in the past year, and whether the appeal was successful. Ask who will prepare your case. Find out which federal agencies the attorney has dealt with on security clearance cases.
3. Ask about costs related to your case.
“Cost is almost always a factor, and we post our fee schedule on our site,” says Griffith, adding that his firm offers military discounts and payment plans. “We’re proud to be among the most affordable security clearance law firms out there.”
You also can ask the attorney you’re considering hiring what you can do to help keep your costs at a minimum. A lot of firms charge extremely high fees that simply aren’t necessary, Griffith says. It pays to shop around a bit to be sure you’re getting the best professional you can afford.
4. Ask for an honest opinion regarding your chances for security clearance obtaining. A good attorney will tell you if pursuing an appeal will be fruitless.
5. Don’t be afraid to seek a private attorney. If you’re in the military, it may seem like choosing a military attorney is the obvious move.
“Military attorneys are government employees,” Griffith says. “They’re not always invested in the client as much as a private attorney.”
We hope these tips are helpful to you. We invite you to contact our office, should you have additional questions regarding requirements for security clearance or find yourself in need of a security clearance attorney.