The Office of General Counsel (OGC) is the chief legal advisor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the federal agency with primary responsibility for implementing the nation’s environmental laws. These laws include the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“Superfund”).
OGC lawyers provide legal counsel to EPA policy-makers, thus providing critical input to rules, regulations, and guidance documents that are promulgated and issued to implement the Agency’s statutory obligations. In addition, OGC attorneys shape national legislation affecting the environment, and address international law issues. Working with EPA headquarters and regional offices, OGC attorneys also provide legal support for the issuance of permits, the approval of state environmental programs, and the initiation and litigation of enforcement actions. Additionally, OGC lawyers handle many legal issues arising from EPA’s day-to-day operations, including contracting, personnel, real property, grants, funding issues and information management.
In addition to their counseling work, OGC lawyers participate in litigation involving EPA. In some areas of OGC’s practice, they are responsible for representing the Agency in administrative litigation at the trial or appellate level. Working closely with the Department of Justice, OGC attorneys also play a major role in defending EPA in court, and in the Agency’s appellate and amicus work.
Practicing Law in OGC
We believe that there is no better place than EPA OGC for attorneys who want to practice public sector general or environmental law! OGC offers both junior and senior lawyers exciting and challenging legal work, and an outstanding opportunity to advance the nation’s environmental policies. For example:
Cutting-Edge Legal Practice
OGC lawyers work on novel, cutting-edge legal issues that impact how EPA carries out its mission. Through their work in counseling Agency program offices and litigating legal issues of first impression in federal courts, OGC attorneys have a major role in shaping federal environmental law.
High Level of Responsibility
OGC lawyers are given extraordinary responsibility early in their careers. Individual attorneys are often responsible for providing legal advice on environmental programs affecting public health and the environment across the nation.
Expertise and Professional Training
OGC lawyers quickly become highly proficient in particular areas of general or environmental law. Even at an early stage in their careers, they are recognized as legal experts both inside and outside the Agency.
Variety of Skills
OGC attorneys are generally responsible for providing all types of legal
support - including legal advice on the Agency’s policy development
process, rulemaking, legislation, and litigation support. As a result,
OGC lawyers have an opportunity to use and perfect a wide array of lawyering
skills, including brief and memo writing, client relationship skills,
and legislative and regulatory drafting.
OGC offers excellent opportunities for professional growth and development not generally available in the private sector, including excellent training opportunities (for example, in-house continuing legal education and brown bag sessions and the opportunity to attend courses at EPA’s Trial Advocacy Institute and OPM’s Federal Executive Institute) and the chance to work temporarily in other legal and non-legal positions at EPA, as well as other federal and state agencies.
OGC is seeking attorneys with excellent analytical and writing abilities, a strong commitment to public service, effective “people” skills, and an ability to take on significant responsibility.
Great Benefits Available!
OGC generally posts vacancy announcements for attorney positions on the USAJOBS website.
OGC considers requests from second- and third-year law students and LLM candidates to work as a volunteer student extern during the school year on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the OGC Recruitment Coordinator for more information.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of General Counsel
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. (2311A)
Washington, D.C. 20460
[Please note: the above address is for postal mail only. For delivery by FedEx, UPS, etc. use the same street address but change the ZIP code to 20004.]
The Summer Honors Program is the primary vehicle used by OGC to recruit law students for attorney positions. Information on how to apply is available on the Summer Honors Program page.
OGC offers a 2-year Honors Legal Fellowship for applicants who are about to graduate from law school or complete a judicial clerkship. OGC is seeking applicants with excellent analytical and writing abilities, a strong commitment to public service, effective "people" skills, and an ability to take on significant responsibility. OGC will be accepting applications for this position to start September 2013.
EPA is an equal opportunity employer.
General information about careers at EPA