National Labor Relations Board Honors Program
The Honors Program is highly competitive and candidates are selected on the basis of merit. Selection is based on the consideration of many factors including academic achievement (G.P.A. of 3.2 or greater); law journal or other relevant writing experience; relevant labor relations and/or law courses; moot court competition, legal aid, and legal clinic experience; and summer and/or part-time employment, particularly experience dealing with labor and employment matters. Some Regional offices have special needs where specific skills, such as bilingual skills, may be a factor in selecting the candidate. If your GPA falls below that necessary to qualify for consideration under the requirements of the NLRB Honors Program, you may nevertheless still qualify outside the Honors Program for a position in a Headquarters or Field Office.
The NLRB maintains three completely separate Honors Programs, one for offices on the General Counsel side, one for offices on the Board side, and one for specific Regional Offices. Application to and acceptance by or rejection from any one of the three programs has no reflection on consideration by the other two programs. Consequently, on the application form individuals must indicate to which program or programs he or she is applying.
Positions are assigned to the following offices:
1. Board Offices. Washington, DC. Assignments will include rotations of work on one or more Board Members staffs, in the Office of Representation Appeals, the Office of the Solicitor, and/or the Office of the Executive Secretary.
Honors Program attorneys can look forward to participating in the review of unfair labor practice decisions issued by administrative law judges and representation election rulings issued by Agency hearing officers and regional directors, which are on appeal to the Board Members in Washington, D.C. The cases are intellectually challenging and require strong analytic, research, and writing skills. They also offer a rewarding opportunity to sharpen oral and written communications skills, and to assist the Board in interpreting its statute and resolving policy differences. Honors Program attorneys will obtain valuable experience which will benefit them throughout their careers in labor and employment law, and derive the satisfaction of making an important contribution to public service.
The Honors Program attorneys will be assigned to the offices of individual Board Members, and they will also be assigned on a rotational basis to the Office of Representation Appeals, the Office of the Solicitor, and/or the Office of the Executive Secretary. The rotational assignments are subject exclusively to management discretion based on work needs. Although the attorney is expected to be employed as a permanent staff attorney at the conclusion of the two-year program, all attorneys are subject to a two-year probationary period. Thus, there is no guarantee of permanent employment upon completion of the program.
It is the responsibility of the attorneys assigned to a Board Member to assist the Board Member by reviewing the hearing record and the parties briefs on appeal in the cases to which they are assigned, researching and analyzing the issues, and presenting written recommendations as to their resolution directly to the Board Members. The issues are then deliberated in meetings either with the attorney's own Board Member, or with all of the Board Members who will be participating in the case. Ultimately the attorney drafts a decision for the Board Members for dissemination to the public reflecting the Board's disposition of the case.
Attorneys assigned to the Office of Representation Appeals present directly to the Board Members recommendations on whether to approve regional director decisions relating to recent or upcoming NLRB representation elections. These decisions raise issues involving such matters as the voting eligibility of classes of employees. Attorneys prepare legal memoranda analyzing the issues, and orally present their recommendations to the Board. The attorneys also draft decisions and orders for the Board Members.
Honors Program attorneys may also be assigned to the Office of the Solicitor. The Solicitor is the Board's chief legal officer and advises it on a broad range of questions of law and policy arising from its administration of the National Labor Relations Act. Attorneys handle assignments as varied as advising the Board on interlocutory-type appeals in ongoing unfair labor practice administrative hearings, and making recommendations to the Board on whether to seek or oppose certiorari before the United States Supreme Court with respect to the review of a Board decision by one of the U.S. federal circuit courts of appeals.
2. General Counsel Headquarters. Washington, DC. Assignments will include rotations of work in the Division of Enforcement Litigation, the Division of Advice, and the Contempt, Compliance, and Special Litigation Branch of the Division of Legal Counsel.
The Honors Program of the Office of the General Counsel is designed for attorneys with exemplary records who are completing law school or judicial clerkships and are interested in joining the preeminent legal office involved in the development and implementation of Federal labor law and policy.
The Office of the General Counsel is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the nation's fundamental labor law, the National Labor Relations Act. Unlike almost all other Federal agencies, the Board enjoys independent litigating authority. Every day, attorneys with the Office of the General Counsel represent the Board and the General Counsel in proceedings before federal bankruptcy and district courts and federal courts of appeals. Our lawyers also play a leading role in providing guidance to the General Counsel and the Regional Offices throughout the country with respect to novel or difficult legal issues. Altogether approximately 75 non-supervisory attorneys are assigned to the Office of the General Counsel in our headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Attorneys in the Honors Program will spend their first two years handling a broad variety of assignments from the Office's Divisions and Branches. These Branches include the Appellate Court Branch, the Contempt, Compliance, and Special Litigation Branch, the Regional Advice Branch, the Injunction Litigation Branch, and the Office of Appeals. In addition, Honors Program Attorneys may choose to take a detail to work in our Baltimore Regional Office investigating charges of unfair labor practices and overseeing secret-ballot elections.
There is great variety in the legal assignments available in the Offices of the General Counsel at Headquarters. An attorney in his or her two years in the Honors Program might draft a brief and argue an enforcement case before a U.S. Court of Appeals, make appearances before federal bankruptcy and district courts as a representative of the Board or General Counsel, draft legal advice memoranda concerning difficult or cutting-edge labor law issues, and review investigative files to determine the appropriateness of an appeal from a Regional Director's dismissal of an unfair labor practice charge. Honors Program participants will obtain a broad knowledge of labor law matters and civil practice, as well as significant court experience that would be difficult to obtain in years of private practice. Moreover, participants will share the special pride that comes from representing the United States Government and engaging in public service.
After two years, participants in the Honors Program may be assigned to a specific office in the Office of the General Counsel. All efforts will be made to accommodate attorney's preferences consistent with the needs of the Office.3. Regional Offices. Assignments will be made as Field Attorneys in one of the NLRB Regional Offices. Field attorneys act on behalf of the General Counsel by investigating charges of unfair labor practices, resolving or litigating cases, conducting elections to determine union representation preferences, and acting as hearing officers in contested representation matters. Attorneys in the Honors Program may indicate an interest in assignment to the following Regional offices:
- Region 1, Boston, MA
- Region 2, New York, NY
- Region 3, Buffalo, NY
- Region 4, Philadelphia, PA
- Region 5, Baltimore, MD
- Region 10, Birmingham, AL
- Region 13, Chicago, IL
- Region 15, Memphis, TN
- Region 16, Fort Worth, TX
- Region 18, Minneapolis, MN
- Region 22, Newark, NJ
- Region 32, Oakland, CA
LENGTH OF APPOINTMENTCandidates hired for permanent attorney positions are subject to a two-year probationary period. In addition, all J.D. graduates are required to pass a Bar examination and be duly licensed to practice as an attorney in any state, territory, or the District of Columbia within 14 months of appointment.
STARTING SALARIESAttorneys with J.D. - GS-11
Attorneys with LLM or judicial clerkship - The Agency has some discretion for starting those with judicial clerkship experience or an L.L.M. at a higher GS level.
The annual starting salary for a General Schedule (GS) grade and step may be reviewed at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website. This website provides salary tables for all NLRB duty locations.