Legal Careers

GAO's Office of the General Counsel (OGC) serves GAO and the Congress, following the federal dollar wherever it goes. The scope and depth of our legal expertise is unparalleled in the federal government. Check out our blog post on GAO's Attorneys. Learn more about working for OGC (PDF, 2 pages).

GAO's Summer Associate Legal Honors Program

Description
Attorneys at the Government Accountability Office describe the legal services they provide to support GAO’s mission, and the agency’s summer associate legal honors program.

Most of our attorneys are assigned to teams to provide legal advice, analysis, and services to the Comptroller General and GAO analysts assessing federal programs. These services can fall under such diverse practice areas as:

  • homeland security and immigration
  • environment and energy
  • banking and financial services regulation
  • health care
  • administrative law and regulatory process
  • telecommunications
  • federal contracts
  • information technology
  • criminal law
  • legislative drafting and analysis

We also have a group of attorneys who act as quasi-administrative law judges to resolve disputes over the award of federal contracts. Read more about our bid protest process.

Another group serves as the federal government’s experts on appropriations law. Read more about our appropriations law work.

In addition, some of our attorneys serve as in-house counsel to GAO. We deal with a variety of issues in equal employment opportunity, personnel, and labor laws. We also represent GAO in administrative hearings and litigation involving GAO’s work.

OGC Recruiting for Summer Associate Positions

The Legal Honors Program

Recruiting for the 2022 Summer Associate Class

We are looking for 2L (or equivalent) law students who expect to graduate in the spring of 2023 to participate in our 2022 Summer Associate program. For our 2022 Summer Associate program, OGC will conduct interviews with the following schools and fairs and through our online application process:

Career Fairs

  • Southeastern Minority Job Fair (SEMJF)

Law Schools

  • American University Washington College of Law
  • Catholic University Columbus School of Law
  • George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
  • George Washington University Law School
  • Georgetown University Law Center
  • Harvard Law School
  • Howard University School of Law
  • University of Chicago Law School
  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • University of Virginia School of Law
  • William & Mary Law School

You may also apply to OGC’s 2022 Summer Associate program through our online application process by submitting a cover letter, resume, unofficial transcript, and writing sample of up to 10 pages to:

Please reference “Summer Associate 2022” as the subject heading of your email.

Only applications received before September 3, 2021, 11:59 PM will be considered. Interviews will be conducted via videoconference. Due to the large number of applications we receive, we regret that we will be unable to reply personally to each applicant; only those invited for remote interview will be contacted.

Summer Associates

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 colleagues.

GAO pays summer associates at rates competitive with other federal agencies, and they are eligible for transit benefits to cover transportation costs.

Entry-Level Attorneys

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 federal government, in a dynamic and collegial environment.

Entry-level attorneys are primarily hired through OGC’s summer associate legal honors program.

Externships

Occasionally, OGC may provide opportunities for unpaid externships to individuals who express interest. Externs must be students who are enrolled at least half-time in an accredited law school. Externs arrange with their law schools to earn course credit in exchange for working at GAO. If you are interested in an externship, please submit a resume, cover letter, transcript, and writing sample to LegalCareers@gao.gov. In your cover letter, please indicate when you are available for an externship (for example, "fall 2021" or "2021-2022 academic year") and any deadlines associated with your law school's externship program.

Benefits

GAO provides a full range of benefits to all staff, including attorneys. These include flexible work hours, student loan repayments, and a transit subsidy. GAO staff can also take advantage of our on-site fitness center and an on-site day care center.

See more about benefits for all GAO staff.

The following benefits are specific to GAO attorneys:

Professional Development
You get the information and resources you need for professional growth. Intensive training programs help you handle a wide range of assignments and keep you up-to-date on challenges in the law and major public policy issues.

Annual bar dues reimbursement
GAO pays for our attorneys to remain active members in one state bar.

Competitive Salaries
GAO is not subject to the GS scale used by most executive branch agencies. Instead, GAO uses a band system:

Band Level 2021 Salary Ranges Eligibility for Promotion Consideration
I $87,651 - $126,562 After two years, eligible for promotion to Band II
II $120,199 - $168,226 After two years at Band II, eligible for promotion to Band III
III $149,800 - $172,500