Legal Insider: Considerations when starting the security clearance process

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq

Our firm defends security clearance holders and applicants (federal employees, government contractors, and military personnel) when security issues arise. Here are some tips to consider when starting the security clearance process:

  1. Consult with an Attorney for Legal Advice When Issues May Arise: It is important to consult with an attorney as early in the process as possible if there is the possibility of negative security issues arising. An individual has the best chance of resolving security concerns when they recognize a potential security concern and seek legal advice early. Doing so at the beginning of the clearance process usually maximizes the ability of an individual to mitigate any security concerns. When an individual has serious security concerns the longer they wait for legal advice the more difficult overcoming the issues may become.
  2. Answer Security Clearance Forms Carefully: It is pretty common for individuals to receive clearance denials because they did not adequately read the questions or proofread their responses on the SF-86/e-QIP before submission. Additionally, many questions on security clearance forms can be confusing which can lead to incorrect responses. A mistake on security clearance forms can lead to an assumption that the individual has not been truthful in their application.
  3. The Importance of Truthfulness: When an individual is not truthful during the clearance process it not only can bar the individual from receiving a security clearance but can raise a host of other legal issues. For example, it is a lot easier for a security clearance lawyer to mitigate security clearance concerns involving prior drug or alcohol usage, than it is to defend against an allegation that the individual was not truthful in their clearance application or interview about these issues. A potential caveat here might be if the issue involves alleged criminal activity so it is important to consult with counsel.
  4. Prepare for an Investigative Interview: If an individual knows that there is a good chance that problem areas exist in a security clearance application, he or she should expect to be asked about the areas in advance by the assigned investigator. Preparation (and practice) for the interview can help prepare for any problem areas in advance.
  5. Dont React Defensively in Interviews: When asked about problem areas in a security clearance application by an investigator, do not react defensively. It is important to be calm and positive about the issues when speaking to an investigator. This is why we generally recommend preparing with counsel for a security clearance interview if there are significant security issues that may be raised. Arguing or acting defensive with an investigator will never benefit an individual in a security clearance investigation.

Contact Us

When potential security clearance issues arise, it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced security clearance lawyer as early in the clearance process as possible. Our law firm advises and represents individuals in the security clearance process. We can be contacted at or by telephone at (703) 668-0070.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on

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