Our Team

The team of security clearance attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC is familiar with the application process, adjudicative guidelines, and mitigating factors. All of our attorneys have held security clearances themselves and know how it feels to go through the investigative process.

Our team of experienced security clearance attorneys available to assist you includes:

Obtaining a security clearance, no matter the level, is the ultimate sign of trust from the government. Federal employees, military members and government contractors are often required to obtain and hold a security clearance in order to maintain their sensitive position with the government or a secured contractor. In the last decade, the federal government has greatly increased the number and type of positions that require security clearances, making it difficult for many to be employed or stay employed in their federal positions.

  • Confidential
  • Secret
  • Top Secret
  • Security Clearance Denials
  • Denial, Revocation, or Suspension of Security Clearance

The application process as well as the clearance renewal process includes an extensive and thorough background investigation into your personal life and financial history. Anything from traffic offenses to credit card debt can be called into question. Further, just because you have been granted a clearance does not guarantee you’ll have it for the remainder of your career. A security clearance can be taken away at anytime due to numerous factors that call into question your ability to work in a sensitive position. Examples include defaulting on your mortgage payments, accruing debt beyond your means or providing a false answer on your SF-86.

Applying for a security clearance should be taken seriously and conducted with care and strategy. Honesty throughout the application and renewal process is key. Oftentimes, failing to maintain a security clearance will lead to loss of employment.

We regularly assist federal employees and contractors as well as military personnel with nationwide representation in all stages of the security clearance process and have helped hundreds retain their clearances. All of our security clearance lawyers have held security clearances – meaning they understand the process from personal experience.

Our coast-to-coast legal team is led by Attorney Anthony Kuhn, Managing Partner of our Buffalo, NY office and a 24-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserve. Attorney Kuhn, currently serving as the NCOIC of a Training and Operations (S-3) section in the Army Reserve, has held some level of active clearance uninterrupted for more than two decades. Anthony has also previously served as an imbedded Intelligence Advisory with the first operational New Iraqi Army brigade. In this role, Anthony worked closely with senior intelligence officials from both countries through the use of translators to develop, disseminate, and act upon actionable intelligence throughout combat operations including the entire 2004 Fallujah offensive and follow-on humanitarian operations. Anthony was recognized for assisting in assembling and training the New Iraqi Army’s first plain-clothes reconnaissance and surveillance teams and as the drafter of the New Iraqi Army’s first Reconnaissance and Surveillance SOP. Anthony has assisted in representing facilities, military members, contractors and covert officers in their security clearance, public trust and suitability matters across more than a dozen agencies and all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Anthony is the co-director of the Veterans Law Practicum at University at Buffalo School of Law and the chair of the Bar Association of Erie County’s Committee for Veterans and Service Members Legal Issues.

Dan Meyer is our lead security clearance attorney in our Washington, DC office. Dan was the Communications Security Officer for the Commander, Middle East Force, during Deserts Shield and Storm, processing clearances for the Flagship and managing the cryptological resources for clients east of Suez. He oversighted security and law enforcement offices for the Inspectors General of the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community, prior to joining the firm as the Managing Partner of the DC office. His area of focus includes both individual and corporate security concerns.

Ryan Nerney is our lead security clearance attorney in our San Diego, CA office. Ryan has been assisting security clearance clients for seven years and has appeared in over 300 hearings and appeals with various government Agencies. Ryan graduated law school from Arizona Summit Law School and served as the Executive Board Secretary for the American Association for Justice during his tenure. He has served his community as a volunteer attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and has been published in that organization’s newspaper on multiple occasions. Ryan is currently a Senior Associate in our San Diego, CA office and has an extensive background in all aspects of security clearance matters.

Sean Timmons is our lead security clearance attorney in our Houston, TX office. Sean has been handling security clearance cases with Tully Rinckey for more than five years and has traveled the country to attend contested hearings on behalf of the firm’s clients. Sean has held secret clearances with the US Army and is very familiar with the security clearance application process, responding to statements of reasons and addressing concerns in suitability determination notifications from federal agencies. Sean is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio where he earned his BA degree in History summa cum laude, South Texas College of Law Houston where he earned his law degree and the University of Houston where he obtained an LLM in International Law. Sean concentrates his practice on both security clearance law and all aspects of military law.

Our attorneys are available to provide counsel throughout the entire security clearance application, revocation and appeals process, including:

  • Pre-Clearance Counseling for SF-86 and DD Form 1879 – Our attorneys can help identify mitigating circumstances, and assist in drafting answers
  • Preparation for interrogatories and investigative interviews
  • Preparation of response to the Statement of Reasons and Denial Letters
  • Requests for Hearings
  • Representation at post-denial hearings in front of the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA), Department of Defense, FBI, CIA, DHS, and all federal courts and government agencies, including document and witness preparation
  • Preparation and representation throughout further appeals

If you are about to apply for your own security clearance or have recently had your application denied or clearance revoked, our lawyers can provide you with the counsel necessary to obtain and retain not only your clearance – but your job.

Contact us today to speak with an experienced national security attorney. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 2027871900 or via email at info@fedattorney.com.

Our Experience

If you believe the information gathered about you during the investigation is misleading or inaccurate, the appeal process is your opportunity to correct or clarify the situation and gain access to a security clearance.

An attorney experienced in reviewing records and preparing written appeals will be able to assist in proving that you are not a security threat and should be granted the security clearance.

The team of security clearance attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC is familiar with the application process, adjudicative guidelines, and mitigating factors. All of our attorneys have held security clearances themselves and know how it feels to go through the investigative process.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in assisting security clearance applicants from the first steps of the process, including the strategic review of applications and preparation for investigative interviews. In the event of a denial or revocation of your clearance, we will fight aggressively to prove your trustworthiness and grant you access to the security clearance you deserve. We frequently represent clients in the appeal process and at hearings in front of DOHA, numerous federal agencies and administrative bodies, and in federal court.

Guide to Obtaining Security Clearances

Contact our offices today to speak with an experienced security clearance attorney about your individual situation. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 2027871900 or via email at info@fedattorney.com.

The majority of security clearance adjudications are unreported, meaning they are not available publicly. But the Department of Defense (Industrial contractors) and the Department of Energy do maintain data bases of decisions adjudication through their personnel security programs.  Of the hundreds of cases TR has handled over the years, here is a selection from those databases that show the extent of our work:

Dan Meyer
Managing Partner, Washington DC

Anthony Kuhn
Managing Partner, Buffalo, NY

Allison Weber
Associate, Buffalo, NY

Ryan Nerney
Senior Associate, San Diego, California

Ryan Nerney 2014-2017


The type of clearance you can be granted will depend on your position, the agency or company with which you are employed, and the scope of work involved.

There are three basic types of security clearances:


  • Foreign employment, immediate relatives and marriages and other personal relationships are screened with scrutiny during the application process.
  • Reinvestigated every 15 years.


  • Requires a National Agency Check, a Local Agency Check and a Credit investigation. Bankruptcy and unpaid bills as well as criminal charges may disqualify an applicant. Poor financial history is the number-one cause of rejection, and foreign activities and criminal record are also common causes for disqualification
  • Reinvestigated every 10 years

Top Secret: Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) & Special Access Program (SAP)

  • Extensive application process and background check known as a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI). Investigators scrutinize dependents, friends, relatives and any foreign travel or employment. Foreign travel and financial assets investigated deeply. Character references required.
  • Reinvestigated every 5 years.

Contact us today to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable security clearance attorney at 2027871900 or via email at info@fedattorney.com.

A decision on your access to a security clearance should be issued within six months following your initial application.

In the event that your application is denied – either during the initial application or revoked or suspended upon review – you will be issued a notice referred to as a Statement of Reasons that outlines the specific reasons, disqualifiers, or areas of concern that determined the decision.

You will also be issued information regarding your right to appeal and the procedures for doing so. Once notified of the government’s intention to deny your clearance, you must provide a response within a timetable as short as 45 days. When filing or responding to an appeal, you must submit a thorough brief that emphasizes the mitigating factors contained in the record and cites relevant legal precedents.

In addition to the list of conditions used to disqualify applicants, the adjudicative guidelines also include a list of conditions used to alleviate security concerns and, ultimately, grant you access to a clearance. The mitigating factors differ depending upon the reasons for denial or revocation, but can relate to infrequency of the act, the completion of counseling programs related to the disqualifying factor, or length of time lapsed.

Each individual’s situation is unique and requires a thorough review of the circumstances specific to your case. There are a host of mitigating factors that could prove your eligibility for access to classified information and ultimately grant you a security clearance.

There are numerous reasons why a candidate may be denied a clearance or why a current employee’s clearance may be revoked. The following list describes areas of issue that may need mitigation during the investigation. The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC are available throughout the application and appeals process to help determine if you have any mitigating factors.

Drug Involvement

Throughout the investigation, including completing the SF-86 form, you will be asked about any previous or current drug use or involvement. It is important to be completely honest in detailing past use, including the abuse of prescription and non-prescription drugs as well as the consumption, purchase or selling of illegal drugs. Any illegal drug use during periods of time that you hold a security clearance, no matter the level, puts your clearance in jeopardy.

Financial Debt, Affluence & Gambling Addiction

There are three financial considerations taken into account: debt, affluence, and gambling addiction. While almost all security clearance candidates hold debt in one form or another, the government scrutinizes the cause and amount of your debt as well as payment history. Due to the sudden downturn in the economy, many candidates or cleared professionals find themselves buried under mounds of credit card debt, failed car payments or even home foreclosure. All three greatly jeopardize your ability to obtain and retain a security clearance.

Financial affluence is the sudden or unexplainable purchase of goods or services beyond your sources of income. Purchases made out of one’s means are subject to intense scrutiny and investigation. Finally, gambling addiction in any form will be investigated. While moderate gambling is socially acceptable, gambling beyond one’s means or a compulsive need to gamble are grounds for denial or revocation.

The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC have decades of experience representing security clearance applicants and those facing revocation due to debt and foreclosure issues. Our lawyers are available 24/7 to help determine mitigating factors in your specific case including positive repayment histories, treatment for addictions and reasons for previously unexplained purchases.

Foreign Influence

In a highly globalized age, it is rare to find individuals without foreign contacts or relationships. While having outside contacts and/or dual citizenship are not complete grounds for denial or revocation, background investigators will scrutinize your relationships, both personal and financial, to governments and persons outside the United States. It is highly important that all foreign information, including travel, is accurately disclosed to determine allegiance to the U.S. and susceptibility to foreign control and influence.

If you or your company has numerous foreign investments or contacts, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC are able to identify mitigating factors including any necessary business arrangements required to obtain clearance. In many cases involving dual-citizenship, having an experienced attorney at your side may be necessary to negotiate a positive settlement.

Sexual Behavior

In certain circumstances, your sexual behavior and history may be analyzed to determine its criminality, your sexual compulsion or potential vulnerability to coercion. Behavior that may be deemed reckless including having multiple partners or obtaining partners illegally or through payment will be thoroughly investigated. Sexual orientation is not a disqualifying factor and any discriminatory conduct by deciding officials may be utilized during the clearance appeals process in your favor. If you believe that you are being discriminated against due to your sexual orientation, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC may be able to help. They understand your legal options and are available 24/7 for consultations.

Technology Misuse

The downloading or use of pirated music, movies, television shows or software is taken very seriously by the government. Also, use of employer computers to view or download pornographic material may trigger allegations under criminal conduct, personal conduct, and sexual behavior guidelines.

The mishandling of sensitive or classified information at previous jobs will be scrutinized as it questions your ability to handle any sensitive material with the government. While there is no clear number of illegal downloads that reaches the threshold of “disqualifying,” it is very important to be honest throughout the investigation process into your use of pirated and pornographic materials. More importantly, now that you are aware of the seriousness of downloading illegal materials, avoid any illegal downloads in the future.

The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC, are experienced in representing clients who have a number of disqualifying factors. We are able to give you honest guidance throughout the application process as well as aggressive representation during denial or revocation hearings.

The application process for access to a security clearance is involved and thorough.
Our attorneys are available to provide assistance, advice, and counsel from the initial application and interview stages to aggressive representation in the event of denial of revocation of a clearance.

Written Application

Applying for a security clearance requires an in-depth background investigation of your personal history. This investigation is non-criminal in nature and covers a defined period of time and normally no more than 10 years into your past. The information collected will be used to determine affirmative your eligibility for access to classified information and suitability for employment.

The first step in the investigation is completing an application form referred to as the Personnel Security Questionnaire SF-86. In addition to verifying U.S. citizenship and supplying fingerprints, the application requires that you supply information related to:

  • Personal, marital, and family history
  • Criminal history and law enforcement records
  • Financial and credit history
  • Verification of education
  • Past employment
  • Military history and service records
  • Foreign travel, experience, and contacts
  • Drug and alcohol use/abuse
  • Computer and internet use/abuse

It is essential that all applicants complete the questionnaire thoroughly and honestly. Once complete, the security clearance questionnaire will be reviewed by agency and government officials for thoroughness and accuracy. Your application will be assigned an investigator who will personally verify the information you provided through a thorough background investigation.

Background Investigation & Formal Interview

This critical step in the process involves an in-person interview between the applicant and the investigator. The interview usually occurs within weeks of date the application is submitted.

Since the purpose of the interview is to determine whether you will be able to deal with having access to classified information without being a security risk, you can expect the questions to be in-depth, personal, and wide-ranging. Expect questions related to your family, spouse or personal relationships, health, financial history, overall health, use of alcohol or drugs, and foreign travel or affairs.

The interview is your opportunity to provide clarification or explanation on questionable actions, occurrences, or events in your past. It is in your best interest to answer all the questions asked with honesty and as thoroughly as possible.

Evaluation Based on Adjudicative Guidelines

Any incidents disclosed in your application or interview that indicate you may be a security risk will be evaluated on a specific set of factors referred to as the adjudicative guidelines.

The adjudicative guidelines are as follows:

  • Nature, extent, and seriousness of the conduct
  • Circumstances surrounding the conduct, to include knowledgeable participation
  • Frequency and recency of the conduct
  • Individual’s age and maturity at the time of the conduct
  • Extent to which participation is voluntary
  • Presence or absence of rehabilitation and other permanent behavioral changes
  • Motivation for the conduct
  • Potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress
  • Likelihood of continuation or recurrence

If your business or organization is bidding on a government contract, your employees may need to obtain and maintain facility clearances. The experienced attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC collaborate with your company, no matter the size, to acquire and maintain all levels of national security clearances.

Our core competencies include:

  • Preparation of DD Form 254
  • Facility clearance
  • Preparation of Standard Form (SF) 328
  • Defense Security Service (DSS) counsel and DOHA representation
  • Foreign Ownership, Control or Influence (FOCI) mitigation
  • Personnel clearance
  • Application counseling
  • Written appeal preparation

We provide counsel at any stage of the process, from acquisition to appeal.

If you’re a non-U.S. citizen seeking Limited Access Authorization (LAA), the knowledgeable security clearance attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can help. As one of the few law firms in the nation with the experience to represent LAA candidates, we assist you throughout the application process to help prevent clearance denial or later revocation. Our services include:

  • Letter of Justification (LOJ) drafting
  • Preparation of SF-86 and security clearance packages
  • Identifying disqualifying issues and mitigating factors
  • Preparation for investigative interviews

We’re available across the country and around the world to assist in any national security law need.

What is a security clearance?
A security clearance is a specific designation required for any employee or government contractor who performs duties for the U.S. Government that require access to classified information. A security clearance may be required even when working in a building or area where such information may be stored. A security clearance allows people filling specific positions to have access to classified national security information up to and including the level of security clearance they hold, provided they have a need to know the information to perform their duties.

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