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Attorney Job Opportunities at the Office of the Food and Drug Administration

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An FDA attorney is a position considered by many who would like to work in federal attorney jobs. The law department within the Food and Drug Administration goes by the name of The FDA Office of Chief Counsel, and the department employs about 95 attorneys and 25 support staff. The FD Office of the Chief Counsel has its headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Attorney jobs at the FDA

Networking scope of an FDA attorney

The FDA Office of the Chief Counsel is a part of the Office of the General Counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services. FDA attorneys work with attorneys from other parts of the OGC on issues that have impacts across the ambits of individual OGC components. Depending upon the issue an FDA attorney may be required to work with attorneys from:
  • the Federal Bureau of Investigation on criminal matters
  • the Environmental Protection Agency on environmental and pesticide matters
  • the Department of Agriculture on food products
  • the Federal Trade Commission on advertising issues
  • the Department of Justice on issues pertaining to court litigation
  • the Department of State on various international matters
  • the Drug Enforcement Administration on issues related to controlled substances
  • the Postal Service on any matter of mail fraud requiring FDA intervention
  • the Custom Services on issues pertaining to imports

While this is not an exhaustive list of OGC components with which an FDA attorney may have to interact on a daily basis, it gives an idea of the width and scope of work and networking available to an FDA attorney.

Career growth scope and salaries of an FDA attorney

FDA attorneys who are new entrants to the department are immediately placed in positions of authority and responsibility. They receive a wide variety of challenging work assignments and are given the responsibilities of handling their own agency clients. This in turn provides ample opportunities to build up their practice, expertise, and client base.

Being a federal agency, the FDA also provides an equal opportunity environment and freedom from billable hours.

2010 figures for experienced FDA attorneys show starting salaries ranging from $74,872 to $136,771. Promotion potential ranged to GS-15/10 scale with a salary of $155,500.

Eligibility for applying to the post of an FDA attorney

Both experienced attorneys and 3Ls may apply for permanent positions at the FDA, while 2Ls are accepted for summer internships. Candidates applying for the position of an FDA attorney need to prove an interest in public service along with exceptional capabilities in research, writing and problem analysis. It goes without saying that for the position of an FDA attorney a strong academic track-record is a must.

According to 2010 figures, starting salaries for law school graduates were close to $62,427, and for those who had already completed a judicial clerkship, the average starting salary was at the level of $74,872.

Summer interns receive a salary of about $800 per week.

Career scope and implications of an FDA attorney

Besides what has already been mentioned above, it is pertinent to note that the FDA is directly related to regulating about 25 percent of the economy of the U.S.A. Hence FDA attorneys have the scope to influence the effect of public health and law policies and practices across the country.

In his/her regular work, an FDA attorney advises the FDA on legal matters and represents the agency in court and at other official hearings. Work includes participation in both civil and criminal cases including the drafting of pleadings, motions and briefs, and participating in discovery and trials. Senior FDA attorneys also act as counsels, provide legal opinions, and take part in rulemaking proceedings, policy debates, and international negotiations. FDA attorneys are also charged with explaining agency matters to the Congress, the regulated industry, and the public.

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