Careers - Career Paths at GAO - Legal Careers at GAO
OGC’s Legal Honors Program for Summer Associates and Entry-Level Attorneys
OGC’s summer associate legal honors program is the primary hiring tool for building OGC’s workforce of highly capable attorneys. Summer associates work a minimum of 10 weeks, but may work longer if their schedules permit.
Typically, summer associates work in two of OGC’s various teams. In their time at GAO, summer associates can gain experience in such areas as homeland security and immigration law, environmental and energy law, fiscal law and constitutional law, or government contracts—to name a few.
OGC gives its summer associates significant responsibility during the summer. They complete intellectually stimulating projects that are equivalent in complexity to those given to entry-level attorneys. For example, a summer associate may advise an audit team on legal matters or fully participate in a bid protest decision. Summer associates who perform well may receive offers of permanent employment.
In addition to the important and rewarding work, summer associates have a wide range of other experiences and activities planned for their summer at GAO. Prior years’ activities include exclusive tours of the Supreme Court and Capitol building. OGC also holds several social gatherings designed to allow summer associates the chance to meet their OGC attorney colleagues.
GAO pays summer associates at rates competitive with other federal agencies, and they are eligible for transit benefits to cover transportation costs.
GAO’s honors program for entry-level attorneys, known as the Attorney Development Program (ADP), offers top candidates the opportunity to start their legal careers working on the most important issues facing the government, in a dynamic and collegial environment.
Entry-level attorneys are primarily hired through OGC’s summer associate legal honors program.
Immediate substantive contributions and responsibilities
Attorneys are assigned their own cases and projects from day 1. Supervisors meet frequently with new attorneys to provide guidance and training.
Assignment to a specific OGC team to gain subject matter expertise and client skills
New attorneys are assigned to a team within OGC. Each OGC team focuses on a particular subject.
Two-year program of professional training and development
ADP attorneys complete a comprehensive and rewarding training curriculum during their first months at GAO. This training covers a broad array of subjects—including GAO statutory authorities, appropriations law, legislative history, and the federal procurement process—exposing participants to many of the diverse areas of law they will encounter at GAO.
Our compensation philosophy reflects the competitiveness of the legal marketplace. GAO offers new attorneys an entry level salary higher than many other federal employers. Throughout their participation in the two-year ADP, attorneys are appraised and get formal feedback on performance every 6 months. Each 6-month review is followed by a salary increase, if performing satisfactorily. Increases range from 5% to 7%. In addition to base salary, attorneys can receive amounts toward repayment of their student loans, and reimbursement for active state bar membership.
After two years, attorneys are eligible for promotion to Band II. GAO's career path for attorneys extends to the Band III level — the equivalent of a GS-15 under the General Schedule.