Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Getting jobs as a FOIA analyst as alternate career/job?

Every single job opening I see for this states at least two notreallyalawyer08/27/17
When I worked for state government, I was unwillingly assign downwardslope08/27/17
State government work or a civil municipal attorney will mak thirdtierlaw08/27/17
Exemption 5 encompasses attorney client privilege, which you perkinwarbeck08/27/17
The OP is likely not getting a job in the federal workforce. downwardslope08/27/17
Are these FOIA jobs attorney jobs? If they are then I am not notreallyalawyer08/27/17
Many foia positions are not attorney positions. I worked in downwardslope08/27/17
Thanks for the suggestion. I'm definintely going to read tha notreallyalawyer08/27/17
Correct! That case is the genesis for the so-called Glomar porochi08/30/17
Again, most FOIA positions are NOT federal. If you try to us downwardslope08/30/17
I was thinking doc review would be helpful as I'm used to lo notreallyalawyer08/27/17
In my agency, most FOIA requests are from personal injury at mistercheeky08/27/17
You get the job by applying. The "qualifications" in many jo mrtor08/28/17
what do hipaa/privacy officers do? In my illustrious career notreallyalawyer08/28/17
I handle FOIA/Privacy Act and other information disclosure c porochi08/30/17
notreallyalawyer (Aug 27, 2017 - 12:45 pm)

Every single job opening I see for this states at least two years of experience doing FOIA work. How do you get into the field without experience? Is it possible or do they become within the government as another position then they get started on FOIA?

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downwardslope (Aug 27, 2017 - 1:06 pm)

When I worked for state government, I was unwillingly assigned to be the FOIA/privacy officer for my region. We did hire a mostly entry level person to be the FOIA liaison in HQ, though she might have had some limited experience. Government is the best place to start.

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thirdtierlaw (Aug 27, 2017 - 1:24 pm)

State government work or a civil municipal attorney will make a fair amount of FOIA requests and need to contest refusals.

If they're just looking for 2 years experience apply anyway. I've found that many job posting only looking for 2 years of experience or less will still take someone with no experience. Whereas the 3-5 year experience they'll actually expect you to have some experience.

Weren't you the doc review person? You could probably spin your doc review experience pretty easily for this gig.

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perkinwarbeck (Aug 27, 2017 - 6:10 pm)

Exemption 5 encompasses attorney client privilege, which you've probably marked a lot during doc review. So there's that to start. Use the DOJ OIP guide to help learn the basics of FOIA.

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downwardslope (Aug 27, 2017 - 6:19 pm)

The OP is likely not getting a job in the federal workforce. Why does he want to focus on that? I think in my old state what counts as a record for purposes of state FOIA is much broader, so focusing on the fed laws would be a bad idea.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 27, 2017 - 8:24 pm)

Are these FOIA jobs attorney jobs? If they are then I am not licensed in the state I live in.. I would prefer to work for the federal government if there's a bar requirement..

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downwardslope (Aug 27, 2017 - 9:32 pm)

Many foia positions are not attorney positions. I worked in one state agency where the agency foia officer was not an attorney. I have seen non-attorney postings in county/city offices as well.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 27, 2017 - 8:23 pm)

Thanks for the suggestion. I'm definintely going to read that and read up on the topic so I can feel a bit more confident about applying. Funny thing, I just took a quick glance at the DOJ page on that and I saw something about "Glomar response." I was a history major in college, watched a ton of history channel. I can only guess that involves the Glomar Explorer which was a ship used in the CIA/USA recover of a soviet submarine that sank in the late 1960s..

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porochi (Aug 30, 2017 - 12:33 am)

Correct! That case is the genesis for the so-called Glomar FOIA response. Glomar responses mean you can't confirm or deny the agency has records responsive to a request.

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downwardslope (Aug 30, 2017 - 6:33 am)

Again, most FOIA positions are NOT federal. If you try to use those responses, you might get your agency sued and lose. In my former state, if you fail to produce the records, attorney's fees are mandatory. The law is much broader than the federal one.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 27, 2017 - 8:19 pm)

I was thinking doc review would be helpful as I'm used to looking at documents all day. I guess determining responsiveness is related to whether something falls into being disclosable or not under FOIA rules. I would just need to learn a new set of rules, but I'm not sure they'll take me. Guess I'll start applying for some of those 2 years experience jobs even though I have none.

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mistercheeky (Aug 27, 2017 - 2:42 pm)

In my agency, most FOIA requests are from personal injury attorneys searching for records for a location before deciding to sue my agency for negligence.

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mrtor (Aug 28, 2017 - 9:17 am)

You get the job by applying. The "qualifications" in many job listings are simply a wish list. They hope to check off as many as possible, but realize that there is often some compromise necessary. You can spin your legal background to make up for the experience deficit.

That said, why would you want to work in that role? The FOIA officers I've encountered are entry level, low paid paper pushers. Most of the requests are for routine documents (or wacky conspiratorial stuff). Any requests that require an ounce of brain work or discretion go to the attorneys. HIPAA/Privacy officers seem to be slightly better paid since there are serious liability issues if improper information is disclosed.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:13 pm)

what do hipaa/privacy officers do? In my illustrious career as a "lawyer" I often had to redact PHI out of documents that we produced, or would report to my supervisors when the other side neglected to do so in their productions.

I don't want to be homeless. I need to work.

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porochi (Aug 30, 2017 - 12:23 am)

I handle FOIA/Privacy Act and other information disclosure cases for a federal agency as agency counsel. My agency has numerous attys. but the information law shop is very small and although we're busier than ever, they don't seem intent on adding more attys. to my group. There are a number of JD's who work as FOIA/Privacy Act processors, and contractors who do the same who have JD's. I mainly liaise with DOJ counsel in litigation, basically doing their bidding, providing litigation support. I call it litigation light, as they're the lead, but often I do get tasked with drafting briefs, declarations, answers, etc. Some AUSA's don't want agency counsel doing much in their cases but answer questions, others would be glad to hand-off all duties to you. Some AUSA's have never handled FOIA.PA litigation and I do a lot of hand holding there. When I draw an AUSA from DC, they see it all the time, their civil shop is top notch. Can't say the same for some USAO's in the hinterlands.

One way in, here at least -- get on with the contractors. They often move up to temp or perm. fed. jobs. Do your due diligence, look for vendors with fed. contracts and hit them up. There's resources out there that can help you ID the contractors. Find them, get on with them, and that can aid your transition to a fed. job. Getting on as an atty. here that way, probably not, although the experience isn't a negative, but getting a JD preferred type position with the fed by stepping up through the contractor ranks, that can work. I personally know several who got on here that way as processors, and various other admin. type positions.

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