Applying for security clearance can be a crucial rung in the ladder on your career trajectory. But for some, questionable situations in their past make the clearance process riddled with anxiety. Whether this describes you, or even if you already have your clearance, you may find yourself in need of the expert advice of a security clearance lawyer.

Why you might need a Security clearance lawyer

You might need a security clearance lawyer for a few reasons. The first one, and the very best time to hire one, is to advise you before you submit your SF-86. This is especially important if you think you might run into some issues during your clearance process. Getting legal counsel before completing your application can help you frame your statement, make sure you don’t lie on the form by omitting relevant information, and smooth the process to help your approval move faster. It can also help you avoid reporting things you don’t actually have to reveal, keeping you from oversharing and potentially costing you time or, worse, your clearance.

If you’ve already gotten a suitability denial, clearance denial, or other adverse action, a security clearance attorney can help you navigate your next steps.

How to find a security clearance lawyer

You shouldn’t trust just any attorney to help you with your security issues. Security clearance is a niche area that requires expertise in the investigation and adjudication processes. The internet is full of bad advice for security clearance holders, and you might even get bad advice during the application process. You need to make sure the attorney you hire can give you correct advice, which is why you should look for a security clearance expert.

Once you find an attorney with potential, here are a few questions you can ask them to find out if they’ll be a good fit for your case:

  • What experience do you have as a security clearance investigator?
  • Is security clearance your only area of practice, or do you work in other areas as well?
  • Would an attorney, paralegal, or legal assistant be preparing my case?
  • How many security cases have you handled? How many times have you appeared before this agency or department?

If they don’t have good answers to these questions, it might be time to move on to the next candidate.

Remember you play a part in this process as well. Being completely honest about what happened can help an attorney decide if you’ll be a good match. Withholding evidence from them does nothing to help your case, or to help you find a good attorney.

How much does a security clearance lawyer cost?

Attorneys aren’t known for being cheap, no matter their area of expertise. And while your budget might be at the top of your list of concerns, remember that the results of this case could make or break your career – and have an impact on your earnings for decades to come.

You can plan on spending $2,500 for a straightforward case, but more complex cases with multiple rounds of appeals could increase that cost. Security clearance legal fees vary with the complexity of the case, but having an attorney in your corner can be priceless.

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Brynn Mahnke is a freelance writer specializing in researching, writing, and ghostwriting for clients in the career, finance, SaaS, and B2B/B2C niches. She focuses on writing case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, and articles showcasing the value her clients bring to their customers. When she isn't writing, you can find her running, cycling, or wrangling children. She can be reached through her website or at