Security Clearance Representation

The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC regularly assist federal employees and contractors, as well as military personnel, in all stages of the security clearance process. We help you obtain any of the three levels of security clearance – confidential, secret, or top secret.

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A growing number of federal employees, military members, and government contractors are being required to hold a security clearance, the ultimate sign of trust from the federal government. In order to become or stay employed in a sensitive federal position, you may need the assistance of an experienced attorney to obtain, renew, or hold your security clearance.

In the event of a denial or revocation of your clearance, we fight aggressively to prove your trustworthiness and gain you access to the security clearance you deserve. Many of our own lawyers have held security clearances, meaning they personally understand the process of applying for clearance, as well as adjudicative guidelines and mitigating factors.

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

If you are about to apply for your own security clearance or have recently had your application denied or clearance revoked, the trusted attorneys at Tully Rinckey can provide you with the counsel necessary to obtain or retain not only your clearance, but your job. We know what to do. We’re ready to help.

To schedule an initial consultation, contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (888) 529-4543 or

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. Many of our attorneys hold 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.

Contact our office today to speak with an experienced security clearance attorney about your individual situation. Call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-529-4543 or email

There are three basic types of security clearance, each with its own unique vetting process:


Foreign employment, immediate relatives and marriages, and other personal relationships are scrutinized during the application process. The person is reinvestigated every 15 years.


The applicant 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 No. 1 cause of rejection, and foreign activities and criminal records are also common causes for disqualification. The person is reinvestigated every 10 years.

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

This requires an 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 are deeply investigated. Character references are required. The person is reinvestigated every five years.

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 of the conduct and how recent was it
  • 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.

Featured Attorneys


When you choose Tully Rinckey PLLC, you aren’t just assigned an attorney. Your legal matter will be cared for by our entire legal team and support staff. With offices throughout the country, coast to coast, we make sure you receive legal counsel and representation you can trust. A number of the partners in our firm have earned the highest possible ratings for their exceptional legal ability and high ethical standards, including the AV Preeminent peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell and top ratings from Avvo, Best Lawyers, and Super Lawyers.

Full Service Legal Firm

Tully Rinckey is a full-service law firm. We handle legal issues relating to appellate law, litigation, bankruptcy, international and U.S.-based business law, family and matrimonial law, military and federal employment law, intellectual property law, and much more. We also offer a variety of services, including estate planning, security clearance representation, and congressional investigations. Regardless of your legal needs, we have the experienced counsel you need.

Our Experience

Our highly knowledgeable law team comes to the table with attorneys who have 20 to 30 years of experience representing hundreds of clients. With hundreds of years of combined experience in appellate, international and U.S. business and corporate commercial law, litigation, criminal law, immigration, bankruptcy, employment law, estate planning, our team has what it takes to ensure your success.

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Our client-centered process is all about communication. During consultations, we teach clients about legal challenges they face and explain options available from their current position. Our attorneys explain how we resolve legal issues for the best possible outcome. We define what the expectations are, create manageable deadlines, and discover evidence to support claims.


“You’ve always done such great work, thank you. My reason for retaining your firm this time was in my capacity as a retired U.S. Army Reserve Office. Specifically, it was the huge OPM Data Loss of millions of OPM security clearance files, and fingerprint cards, for millions of U.S. citizens with a security clearance,”

G.W. on Tully Rinckey PLLC.

Prior results do not guarantee similar outcomes.

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