Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

VA Board of Veterans Appeals jobs are back

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/View Details/482405700 jdmaryland10/21/17
Thank you. kramer71610/21/17
If anyone is interested, here's a letter dated April 26, 201 bva12304/28/18
You got this Kramer! jdmaryland10/21/17
Nice thought, but been beaten down by this process a lot, so kramer71610/21/17
Chin up! The odds are good! petunia10/21/17
From what I’ve heard it’s a horrible job due to the work notreallyalawyer10/22/17
Seriously? I thought you were unemployed and live in D.C. thirdtierlaw10/22/17
THats one benefit but you’d get only 6 months on your resu notreallyalawyer10/22/17
So you can apply and if you get an interview, ask about thos downwardslope10/22/17
I'm beginning to think notreallyalawyer is a troll. blackholelaw10/23/17
what took you so long? inho2solo10/23/17
Ignore. Tried to edit but I think I hit reply instead, so th kramer71610/22/17
Agreed. Is it an ideal position? No. Have I heard it sucks, kramer71610/22/17
The SBA job pays hourly so your likely make more money doing notreallyalawyer10/22/17
I will be applying, and if practicing law makes you miserabl kramer71610/22/17
Thanks. . Good luck to you. I applied with them in March and notreallyalawyer10/22/17
No clue where you live, but I can with 99.9% certainty say t kramer71610/22/17
If my finances improve I might try that to see it but right notreallyalawyer10/22/17
100% agreed if you are doing doc review, but if you aren't w kramer71610/22/17
I have some doc review gig that's supposed to start soon, bu notreallyalawyer10/23/17
Yeah I had one in Detroit like that. Kept pushing the start kramer71610/23/17
Folks, As someone with firsthand experience at the Board, mxab5410/22/17
MY lord that’s depressing and they even rejected me. My on notreallyalawyer10/22/17
Also, you all should be aware that the Board increased the p mxab5410/22/17
How long does it take to do the case is the time influenced notreallyalawyer10/22/17
Our nominee for Chairman, recently stated that it takes 8 ho mxab5410/22/17
Our nominee for Chairman, recently stated that it takes 8 ho mxab5410/22/17
Attrition at the Board is sky high. Now, in truth, the Boar mxab5410/22/17
If you quit do you get and preference points still for other notreallyalawyer10/22/17
You do not get preference points for other government jobs i mxab5410/22/17
That frightens me because my experience has caused me to los notreallyalawyer10/22/17
Wow. I know some people through a friend who worked there an spaghetti10/23/17
ITS good to know this but seriously depressing. I had aspire notreallyalawyer10/23/17
Sounds like married people with kids would do poorly there. notreallyalawyer10/22/17
You cannot work from home during the first year. Keep in min mxab5410/22/17
I really appreciate your posts and insight. You’ve convinc notreallyalawyer10/22/17
It appears as part of the application process they will requ kramer71610/23/17
You should reread the older thread and see what has changed. notreallyalawyer10/23/17
I work at the Board now, they're hiring 150 new attorneys in threedham10/24/17
Curious, even if you were there for years, if they fire you notreallyalawyer10/24/17
I don't know the answer to that, but our union cited one ins threedham10/24/17
What are the mathematical odds of someone starting say today notreallyalawyer10/24/17
So they are only hiring at a GS-11 position?? Lol that might oddis50010/25/17
I think I have read either here or possibly on another board downwardslope10/25/17
I saw the same thing, but no clue what thread that was. kramer71610/25/17
they pay gs11 step 1 notreallyalawyer10/25/17
That is for non-fed employees. Not a current fed employee in downwardslope10/25/17
You are right. I forgot on saw on USAJOBS an ad for federal notreallyalawyer10/25/17
They will work with current fed employees but will not excee izzymandelbaum10/25/17
That's a shame I would have been interested in applying. Tha oddis50010/25/17
The job is basically this: (1) Figure out what the applic dcm198310/25/17
Also keep in mind, if there's a snow day, you are expected t notreallyalawyer10/25/17
They actually prorate for leave now. So, they will reduce t dcm198310/25/17
Word of advice - if you accept this job, make sure you sign mxab5410/25/17
No other fed agency operates like this. Why does the VA boar dopesmokeresquire10/25/17
Doesn’t the uspto or social security have similar quotas? notreallyalawyer10/25/17
Both the USPTO trademark examiner and SSA attorney adviser p mxab5410/25/17
Ssa quotas seem to be based on what is reasonable on a 40h w dcm198310/25/17
I think people do get fired/demoted, but it’s not that com downwardslope10/25/17
For anyone who works or worked there, can you tell us about notreallyalawyer10/26/17
http://www.jdunderground.com/all/th read.php?threadId=117611 downwardslope10/26/17
Thanks. notreallyalawyer10/26/17
I heard that this is the last large hiring they have planned notreallyalawyer10/27/17
Your first statement is key, "Last large hiring they have pl kramer71610/27/17
Even though it might be harder to get jobs with them later, notreallyalawyer10/27/17
Who knows. If the actually retained all of the attorneys the lydia10/27/17
I thought there was no paid OT? notreallyalawyer10/27/17
There is paid OT, but it is for doing cases in ADDITION to t lydia10/27/17
Since you are closing in on GS-14 I assume you have been the kramer71610/27/17
This may be the worst it has ever been. It got dramatically lydia10/27/17
Appreciate the information. I applied, so we will see what h kramer71610/27/17
But are you prepared to be working 10-20 hours of unpaid OT notreallyalawyer10/27/17
I was doing that in my previous position so nothing new. Plu kramer71610/27/17
I figured that me being single/no kids would be an advantage notreallyalawyer10/27/17
As a new attorney at the Board, I can echo this sentiment. T threedham10/27/17
How long did it take you to get to GS-13? aspiringlawyer10/27/17
Anyone who works there like to tell us about the firing that notreallyalawyer10/28/17
Where did you hear that? jdmaryland10/28/17
A source notreallyalawyer10/28/17
I guess no body is talking. But I heard someone who was ther notreallyalawyer10/29/17
There is no standardized measure of quality. If you get plac somefed10/28/17
The pay scale is keeping me from applying, but these horror oddis50010/28/17
They might have less turnover if they started at something o downwardslope10/28/17
What happens to the careers and potential of people who say notreallyalawyer10/29/17
Unfortunately, what happens in that case is that you have to somefed10/29/17
So that would basically rule out any contract specialist cha notreallyalawyer10/29/17
If you do that can you at least go up in steps? After a whil notreallyalawyer10/31/17
@SSA? It takes something like 18 years to get to step 10 in downwardslope10/31/17
DO they do entry level hiring? I’ve never seen a ssa job a notreallyalawyer10/31/17
In DC? They hired like 100+ last year I think. They were hir downwardslope10/31/17
Three years of experience doing those sort of things for ano notreallyalawyer10/31/17
I don't remember the exact amount of experience required, bu kramer71610/31/17
Well because there are so many more lawyers than there are j notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Most people have no related experience. They hire people wit downwardslope10/31/17
If there was one opening or a handful, then I think your poi kramer71610/31/17
Again, if you get fired, which the odds are high of, you bas notreallyalawyer10/31/17
FWIW, I know plenty of people who were fired from state jobs downwardslope10/31/17
You have been waiting to get a non-doc review job for how lo kramer71610/31/17
Are you applying for the VA or going to take the SBA job? I notreallyalawyer10/31/17
I am applying for both. I think I have a better shot at the kramer71610/31/17
Curious, would you take a job at a federal agency, but not t notreallyalawyer10/31/17
At this point, Yep kramer71610/31/17
I got called for an interview for this. I can't bring myself notreallyalawyer10/31/17
What's the job title? I will apply kramer71610/31/17
It closed. it was at the IRS, some "general attorney" positi notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Just call! Seriously. What is wrong with you. This is why ev downwardslope10/31/17
Here was the description: esponsibilities The following notreallyalawyer10/31/17
A friend of mine is doing that type of work for an agency in kramer71610/31/17
I don't know how I could explain how I lost my job an an int notreallyalawyer10/31/17
So tell us what happened and I am sure someone can give you kramer71610/31/17
I can’t say on here notreallyalawyer10/31/17
If you wanna email me at that throwaway email I can tell asp notreallyalawyer10/31/17
WEll I scheduled the interview. Gonna be a big mistake. I ca notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Just spin it and congratulations on getting the interview. Y kramer71610/31/17
I don't see how I can spin it given there's going to be an S notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Typically an employer isn’t going to reveal why a person w downwardslope10/31/17
This would involve a background check, they will contact my notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Alright. Just treat it as a practice interview then. You hav kramer71610/31/17
That's what I'm trying to do, but it's not helping... I get notreallyalawyer10/31/17
You were laid off along with a bunch of other people due to wolfman10/31/17
That's not what happened though. I was on staff at a firm. notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Again, they are not going to give a detailed “real” reas downwardslope10/31/17
It's not a reference check, it's a background check. They ar notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Plus if you start there I have seen FOIA positions up to GS- downwardslope10/31/17
The FOIA experience is one major plus I see from this.. notreallyalawyer10/31/17
For a lot of those duties, I've never done, and I doubt anyo notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Because you can eventually move up to a GS-15 non-supervisor downwardslope10/31/17
You can only get to GS 15 from this job by applying to other notreallyalawyer10/31/17
Right but you are not going to get a GS-15 FOIA job without downwardslope10/31/17
Most SSA jobs start out NTE 2 years. Look. You have to take downwardslope10/31/17
I really wish they would ban this idiot. oddis50010/31/17
thanks for posting. from what i am hearing, a large number hopelesslyunemployed11/01/17
That surprises me. It would seem that SSA trumps the VA, but kramer71611/01/17
I’m at SSA. I won’t be applying and this whole conversat brownbear11/01/17
Just so you know, my contact there, still after telling me notreallyalawyer11/01/17
Same govlaw11/01/17
I am not sure why you would apply if you are at SSA. I know downwardslope11/01/17
the SSA gigs are not permanent whereas VA is (plus VA career hopelesslyunemployed11/01/17
But the SSA gigs become permanent for most people and the VA brownbear11/01/17
All VA positions are at will now and it is very easy to fire downwardslope11/01/17
It is true that it is much easier to fire people now under t somefed11/01/17
Another thing is that with the high turnover of the past yea threedham11/02/17
It looks like they changed the close date to November 3rd. trophy201711/02/17
I think it was always November 3rd, at least whenever I look notreallyalawyer11/02/17
Anyone else apply recently and it's saying "unavailable" on notreallyalawyer11/02/17
Since you're only dealing with federal law, can you be barre dharamsala11/02/17
Yes, that isn't an issue. kramer71611/02/17
Heck, in my dad's office at a Department, there was a go who notreallyalawyer11/02/17
Yes. Most people here are Maryland and/or Virginia lawyers, threedham11/03/17
Has anyone applied to this job recently and their applicatio notreallyalawyer11/03/17
Go in and select "update" application and just click through trophy201711/03/17
I've done that and have now submitted it twice. and it still notreallyalawyer11/03/17
Make sure you attached every document you uploaded from usaj trophy201711/03/17
THey were attached though I put two docs in one category cou notreallyalawyer11/03/17
Thanks. I removed the double entry and it worked. notreallyalawyer11/03/17
I think this may be worth applying to if you have experience kemken11/07/17
I know it's the job from hell, but it's a full-time from hel kramer71611/08/17
I have a feeling they are going to at least to try to do mos notreallyalawyer11/08/17
I'll be pulling for you Kramer! You definitely deserve a sho oddis50011/08/17
After seeing someone get fired this week, it is hard to be o somefed11/09/17
No question. If I get picked up for that position, then I wi kramer71611/09/17
I do not know the exact time, but it was under the two year somefed11/09/17
Thank you for the information. Not sure if the person was yo kramer71611/09/17
how many folks are you aware of that have been let go at VA? hopelesslyunemployed11/09/17
I know of about 5 people who were let go under the 2-year pr somefed11/10/17
About the JOA that closed 11/03/17 that was open to the publ sendlawyers11/21/17
Hey they started referring or rejecting people yet? I haven' notreallyalawyer11/21/17
Sounds about right. I haven't heard anything about being ref kramer71611/21/17
What questions did they ask you ? I applied for this job man notreallyalawyer11/21/17
Everything was related to writing. What was your favorite th kramer71611/21/17
I don't recall that, or anything from my last interview with notreallyalawyer11/21/17
If you had an offer and turned it down, why have you taken u blackholelaw11/21/17
Well, that was over a decade ago, when I didn't have a decad notreallyalawyer11/21/17
Notreallyalawyer, you are pretty much the only person in you anonattempt11/22/17
I sent an email to the hiring contact on the VA job listing, kramer71611/29/17
Good, and good luck to you in moving forward. inho2solo11/29/17
Appreciate it and good luck to you as well. kramer71611/29/17
haha Thanks Kramer! I just got the same two emails as well. notthedroidyo11/29/17
Good luck. kramer71611/29/17
yep-got the referral letter today as well. hopefully we hea hopelesslyunemployed11/29/17
Good luck. Just based on last time I would say in a couple o kramer71611/29/17
that would put it right around x-mas. Wonder if they will t hopelesslyunemployed11/29/17
Same here notreallyalawyer11/29/17
Congratulations to everyone who was referred. I was referred kemken11/29/17
Congratulations to you all. If anyone who was picked up in t kramer71611/29/17
I heard there were more firings recently notreallyalawyer12/02/17
Wouldn't be a surprise. kramer71612/02/17
Where does SSA even hire? I haven’t seen a single anouncrm notreallyalawyer12/02/17
At the local law schools. This summer they were on USAJobs, startupesq12/02/17
The only jobs I have found were on USAJOBS, but I have heard kramer71612/02/17
At agencies that hire 80+ folks at a time, of course there w burneremail12/02/17
As someone who has worked as SSA, I know a lot about the age john0912/02/17
I hear some SSa offices are worse than others notreallyalawyer12/02/17
Worked at SSA over three years and your experience comes dow startupesq12/02/17
As someone who doesn’t actually work at the Board, your in sunset712/20/17
Umm... most legal work does not involve reinventing the whee john0912/20/17
Hahahahaha! I find all of your posts hilarious, john09. Of sunset712/20/17
Since they have such a backlog why don’t they just hire mo notreallyalawyer12/02/17
Because they can. BVA management has bet on a strategy where threedham12/04/17
I work at the Board as a judge. Have been here a long time i whynot12/06/17
It's Deja vu all over again. You answered my questions durin kramer71612/06/17
thanks-any thoughts on how long before interviews start gett legaleagle22312/06/17
@ whynot When you say attrition, do you mean voluntary at john0912/06/17
Especially people who have been there for decades getting fi notreallyalawyer12/06/17
I've contacted many current Board attorneys to learn more ab john0912/06/17
Interviews have started for some and more will be scheduled whynot12/07/17
I'm wondering how the math adds up if they hire 300 every ye notreallyalawyer12/07/17
@ notreallyalawyer I don't think it's in the Board's inte john0912/07/17
The attrition rate for the new hires is more than 10 percent somefed12/07/17
That's what I hope to do, I'm going to try to get an SSA job notreallyalawyer12/07/17
Security is fairly good at SSA. The issue is that most peopl downwardslope12/07/17
I'm in one of the new classes and we've already had people v threedham12/08/17
If you get firedhow badly does it impact prospects of gettin notreallyalawyer12/08/17
I mean, it's not good. Future federal employers will be able threedham12/08/17
If you are told you will be terminated and you resign or are notreallyalawyer12/08/17
Is that what you are doing instead of working cases and help sunset712/20/17
My contact at the Board informed me this morning that the un john0912/08/17
They ll fire anyone who uses OT to meet quota ? notreallyalawyer12/12/17
No. The union is challenging the unpaid overtime issue. Paid threedham12/12/17
any word on interview offers? jdepressed12/12/17
My point is if they have to pay you OT to meet quota they wi notreallyalawyer12/12/17
@ notreallyalawyer They can't fire everyone. If BVA has t john0912/12/17
Well if you get fired from that job you will likely never ge notreallyalawyer12/12/17
Well, that's why the union is fighting management. john0912/12/17
@notreally- They do not pay you overtime to make the quota. somefed12/12/17
I know. I’m just saying if the union wins watch them fire notreallyalawyer12/12/17
If they win, then they'll just reduce the quota from 169 to threedham12/12/17
More like "lets burn through a ton of attorneys" and "destro john0912/12/17
Eventually something has to give with that strategy. I worke downwardslope12/12/17
BVA does have a reputation in Washington as being a "churn a threedham12/12/17
You cannot use paid overtime to make the quota at all. The w somefed12/12/17
Has anyone been called for an interview during this round of kramer71612/12/17
yes-I setup an interview (hr person said interviews are this legaleagle22312/12/17
how did you get your interview a call or a email jdepressed12/13/17
phone call legaleagle22312/13/17
Appreciate it. A bit less depressed now that I have the temp kramer71612/13/17
where are all the SSA posting, I never see any jdepressed12/13/17
Hearing folks at ssa have been interviewing for slots in cur hopelesslyunemployed12/13/17
They just left me a voicemail in the past 5 minutes. I’m n notreallyalawyer12/13/17
id think an email would be more efficient jdepressed12/13/17
It is an interview, not a commitment. Might as well get inte downwardslope12/13/17
I don’t even have access to my suit until next week. I don notreallyalawyer12/13/17
This is a new low, notreallyalawyer. You post here all the blackholelaw12/13/17
Why would I interview for a job that would ruin my chance fo notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Ps I don’t want to be vomiting and be near a heart attack notreallyalawyer12/13/17
The job was posted for both existing fed employees and the p toosexyformygrade12/13/17
How is it worth the high risk of getting fired and never bei notreallyalawyer12/13/17
It seems weird to me, especially when it seems the position downwardslope12/13/17
Although SSA AA positions only go up noncompetitively to GS- john0912/13/17
This is why I’m not interviewing with BVA. If you get fire notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Not always true. That's dependent on what your SF-50 says wh startupesq12/13/17
In my training group, my understanding was that few SSA jobs downwardslope12/13/17
If you get fired after 8 months and can never get a federal notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Term expiring is different than being fired or asked to resi notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Keep in mind when you fill out the forms if you get an offer notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Well you can always quit if you know you are not meeting pro downwardslope12/13/17
I wouldn’t want to have such a high stress job for the res notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Is that lower stress than being a perennial doc reviewer won flyer1412/15/17
No because if a doc review project ends I can get on another notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Aren't you like 40? Your career is half over and you've s flyer1412/15/17
It I get fired that means I can’t get another federal job notreallyalawyer12/15/17
At this rate, you haven't worked for the Feds at any point i flyer1412/15/17
If I get fired I will basically be forever barred from any f notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Resign before you get fired. If you get a tyrant judge, it i downwardslope12/15/17
Because that’s being fired and I wouldn’t be able to get notreallyalawyer12/15/17
It is not being fired. If you know you are not making quota, downwardslope12/15/17
And how do I know when that moment is? Too much risk. It’s notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Doc review - a bunch of temp projects with uncertain end dat flyer1412/15/17
That’s why I don’t want yo risk my future on apparently notreallyalawyer12/15/17
It is not the worst. I know people who have had worse. They downwardslope12/15/17
FYI, it takes 18 years to go from Step 1 to 10, you'd likely toosexyformygrade12/13/17
What is the name of the field of law that the work One does notreallyalawyer12/13/17
If you are referring to one of the mass hirings, you will be startupesq12/13/17
Meant the mass hiring type jobs should they ever do that whe notreallyalawyer12/13/17
In that case, this gives a good idea of what you'll be inund startupesq12/13/17
If you want to read actual law instead of an awful power poi downwardslope12/13/17
Thanks notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Haha, yes it is awful. Just offered for him/her to get a se startupesq12/13/17
My concern is being able to show interest. Hard to claim I d notreallyalawyer12/13/17
A legitimate interest in public service goes a long way... startupesq12/13/17
I have a legit interest on public service but not in the are notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Express that and you will be fine. Like downwardslope said, startupesq12/13/17
In the past I was given a really hard time about showing int notreallyalawyer12/13/17
From what I can tell, it is more about general interest. Mos downwardslope12/13/17
I had that. Didn’t help on my higher level attorney interv notreallyalawyer12/13/17
Why are you telling a person who already has the job what do downwardslope12/13/17
People in my class had criminal, real estate, insurance defe downwardslope12/13/17
Admin law. Many people in OGC do admin law too. downwardslope12/13/17
hearing this va hiring class is slated to start late january hopelesslyunemployed12/13/17
Are you interviewing? notreallyalawyer12/13/17
already did-they seem to be moving quick through interviews hopelesslyunemployed12/13/17
I’m declining my interview. My temp job is more certain at notreallyalawyer12/13/17
They were going out a couple weeks after the interview durin kramer71612/13/17
Just to be clear, if you are not succeeding at the Board you whynot12/13/17
I'm pretty sure that a resignation in lieu of termination is john0912/13/17
Seems like it is risky for anyone even if they don’t alrea notreallyalawyer12/14/17
https://federalemployeelawblog.com/ 2015/08/03/resignation-be somefed12/14/17
Why not, or anyone who definitively knows. What is the polic bigboom12/14/17
Guess it would be easier to makequota if you didn’t have a notreallyalawyer12/14/17
They allow you to work from home (in the D.C. area) after th threedham12/14/17
How is communication done with aljs from home? How many surv notreallyalawyer12/14/17
The same way most of the communication with the judges happe threedham12/14/17
How difficult is the work? notreallyalawyer12/14/17
My source at the Board told me that only 40 percent of the B john0912/14/17
Does anyone know the odds of someone lasting 2-5 years there notreallyalawyer12/14/17
Are there any chances that the recent grievances/complaints startupesq12/14/17
Given the union actions I’d think not. Looks like their pl notreallyalawyer12/14/17
I've done a lot of research about the Board. Apparently, the john0912/14/17
Am I being an idiot for not taking the risk of interviewing notreallyalawyer12/14/17
Probably. My experience in state government is that tons of downwardslope12/14/17
But you are likely to get fired after 8 months at BVA and I notreallyalawyer12/14/17
How do you know you wouldn’t have anything else you could downwardslope12/14/17
The BVA job is the only interview I’ve had in the past 14 notreallyalawyer12/14/17
take the interview and take the job if you get it it's bette wolfman12/14/17
Wolfman, I would be very surprised if you are able to pass t john0912/14/17
Writing test? notreallyalawyer12/15/17
I've passed every writing test I've taken with bells on, and wolfman12/15/17
If they give me an offer I’ll take it bc I’m desperate a notreallyalawyer12/15/17
There is literally no risk in an interview. You can’t lose burneremail12/14/17
Thanks for the response. I was told they they can require yo bigboom12/14/17
Keep in mind, if you fall behind on production, your supervi john0912/14/17
Does anyone even make production quotas at bva? notreallyalawyer12/14/17
It depends on the judge. Luckily at SSA we are in a pool, so downwardslope12/14/17
Haven't got a call yet. Not sure if I will or not. Interesti kemken12/14/17
I think it’s ver random. They gave me an offer years ago a notreallyalawyer12/14/17
Yeah I have had similar experiences and have disability expe downwardslope12/14/17
fwiw, the folks that I talked to that interviewed had experi hopelesslyunemployed12/14/17
Since it's in the excepted service, the veteran's preference threedham12/15/17
To answer the telework question. Yes after 1 year the optio whynot12/14/17
Why not thank you for the reply for remote work bigboom12/15/17
Bullshit, Why not. Just bullshit. The attrition rate for th somefed12/14/17
@somefed It's not in management's best interest to public john0912/14/17
It may be different outside of DC, but at least in my area, downwardslope12/15/17
They're also not mentioning the mass firings that happened a threedham12/15/17
I was doing some searches and there’s some place called dc notreallyalawyer12/15/17
@notreallyalawyer FYI, there was no production quota in 2 john0912/15/17
They scheduled an interview for me without even asking thoug notreallyalawyer12/15/17
If you develop a good relationship with your judge and are w lydia12/15/17
I tend to not get along well with people . Very few friends notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Probably around 10 hours or a bit more, but it depends on th lydia12/15/17
If I decided to wait a year or two in hopes the situation im notreallyalawyer12/15/17
It varies depending on the complexity of the cases judges ar threedham12/15/17
So afraid of getting fired and ruining my chances of a fed c notreallyalawyer12/15/17
You don't have a fed career as is, and this is the only kind threedham12/15/17
If I get fired anything I go back to school for would be poi notreallyalawyer12/15/17
It sounds like you would be miserable at the job and wouldn' unemployedvagabond12/15/17
It’s doc review. At least I know I can do that. Maybe I ca notreallyalawyer12/15/17
If you're going to back to school and essentially drop out f unemployedvagabond12/15/17
Because if they give me an offer I won’t say no and that w notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Future of what? Going from doc review to doc review like you downwardslope12/15/17
While precluding even non law federal employment notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Anyone know if there is a writing test for this round of hir hopelesslyunemployed12/15/17
What's the point of a government job if you can't be lazy? T karlmarx12/15/17
I don’t mind working 50 hours and working through lunch fo notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Bva fired a nearly 30 year employee for production bc she wa notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Well, it appears that loyalty at BVA is a one way street if john0912/15/17
Though this has been going in for years maybe even if they h notreallyalawyer12/15/17
BVA is such a toxic place that you probably made the right c john0912/15/17
Sad that that and SSA are my only chance to use my law degr notreallyalawyer12/15/17
Foolish. You should’ve taken the interview for the interv jdmaryland12/17/17
This is a fascinating thread. I don't see a distinction b jinomas12/15/17
I honestly didn’t think about the hiring freeze but it sti notreallyalawyer12/15/17
GS-13 and GS-14 people in other positions who are not writer downwardslope12/15/17
Greetings all, just joining this very informative forum. hopefulesq7112/17/17
There’s no negotiation. You get GS-11 step 1. People give notreallyalawyer12/17/17
If you join the Board, your feelings of severe disillusionme john0912/17/17
Thanks guys and that's exactly what I'm afraid of. I heard hopefulesq7112/17/17
People are bringing up this in an interview? I’d never do notreallyalawyer12/17/17
I'm beginning to believe your source's comment that intervie john0912/20/17
Hi Hopeful71, That is interesting information. One thing somefed12/17/17
Since there is a bit of discussion about SSA and all sorts o hopefulesq7112/17/17
Hopeful 71, is your friend at BVA ( Board of Veterans Appeal somefed12/17/17
Thank you somefed. She is at VBA and yes I know the differen hopefulesq7112/17/17
Everything that hopefulesq71 wrote appears to be consistent john0912/17/17
I found some interesting information online regarding the cl john0912/17/17
John09, sorry if this has been asked and answered as I am hopefulesq7112/17/17
hopefulesq71 - I'm actually a SSA employee. As a lot of my c john0912/17/17
John09, I am reading the link you sent and I am appalled hopefulesq7112/17/17
No, things actually got worse after Carol Dibattiste left th john0912/17/17
So, is the consensus that this BVA job is similar to SSA NCA jinomas12/17/17
Well jinomas, the BVA position seems to have much tougher pr john0912/17/17
Keep in mind that most writers at SSA are not at the NCACs, downwardslope12/17/17
I'm curious what happens to those who left SSA for BVA, then notreallyalawyer12/17/17
Thank you so much John09. I apologize for the late respo hopefulesq7112/17/17
How are the interviews going? jinomas12/18/17
standard interview questions-thought things went well. now hopelesslyunemployed12/18/17
Turns out the 29 year employee fired wasn’t sick. She just notreallyalawyer12/19/17
The 30 year employee fired for being sick and caring for eld notreallyalawyer12/19/17
I read through all of the threads regarding BVA and I have d hopefulfedatty201812/19/17
Current BVA attorney here. Production starts at 6 months. Yo threedham12/19/17
Thanks for answering. I appreciate your response! Are yo hopefulfedatty201812/19/17
No problem. Speaking for myself, I dislike the job. Manageme threedham12/19/17
Prior fed govt employees were able to negotiate a higher ste esquire201412/19/17
Prior fed govt employees were able to negotiate a higher ste esquire201412/19/17
Apparently, BVA is willing to negotiate a step increase with john0912/19/17
Hi, I am a recent board hire and asked one of the more senio sunset712/21/17
writing test is confirmed (if you make it far enough, you wi hopelesslyunemployed12/19/17
Is this speed/accuracy or a legal analysis type of writing t hopefulfedatty201812/19/17
I am not quite sure. hopelesslyunemployed12/19/17
I believe it would be a timed exercise involving the applica somefed12/19/17
How would I know Veterans law? notreallyalawyer12/19/17
You do not have to know the law. They give you some laws wit somefed12/19/17
If it’s like a law school exam it tests application of law notreallyalawyer12/19/17
Did anyone ask about a timeline for the next steps? jinomas12/19/17
the writing tests are going on this week. I think they want hopelesslyunemployed12/19/17
Is that an online thing? jinomas12/19/17
the test? i think you have to go down to the va building to hopelesslyunemployed12/19/17
Curious how they can start people that quickly given the pub notreallyalawyer12/19/17
From my what my friend said, they know it is a short turnaro hopefulfedatty201812/19/17
Because a public trust is the easiest thing ever to get. Eve burneremail12/19/17
I’d be shocked if they moved that fast. I was in one of th threedham12/19/17
Had a friend to interview and they expect people to start en hopefulfedatty201812/19/17
If any of you are relocating to DC for the BVA position, thi john0912/19/17
I noticed you have been keeping up with the VA posts. Do yo hopefulfedatty201812/19/17
@hopeful I'm actually active on many threads and have bee john0912/20/17
Just as an FYI, a lot of Maryland and D.C. leases have an un threedham12/20/17
Define "a lot" because my colleagues and friends in the D.C. john0912/20/17
I agree, people should totally think very hard about relocat threedham12/20/17
If your only other work has been doc review then you are goi notreallyalawyer12/20/17
It is a pretty good market. I have a friend who had a term j downwardslope12/20/17
She wasn’t s doc reviewer obviously. I’m Referring to p notreallyalawyer12/20/17
Speaking for myself as a recent law school graduate not from threedham12/20/17
How many hours beyond 40 would you say most people have to w toosexyformygrade12/20/17
Ive heard it takes an average of 15-20 hours per case so tha notreallyalawyer12/20/17
I'm not on production yet, but having spoken to those who ar threedham12/20/17
Very interesting, thank you. Have you seen improvement i toosexyformygrade12/20/17
I've improved but I'm still concerned about being marginal f threedham12/20/17
Which part do you think is slowing you down? Is it the reco jinomas12/20/17
I am also a new summer hire at the Board (which is what the sunset712/20/17
I'm a bit confused. Why should they (the attorneys who compl john0912/20/17
Haha, that was a typo. Thanks for bringing it to my attentio sunset712/20/17
I always figured most leases are month to month notreallyalawyer12/20/17
The leases on Craiglist tend to be month to month. john0912/20/17
I'm a new attorney at the Board and I write for a pretty tou esquire201412/20/17
If you don't mind me asking, what was your background prior hopefulfedatty201812/20/17
This is my first legal job. I'm only a few years out of law esquire201412/20/17
Well, the judges at the Board have different standards. Wait john0912/20/17
But doesn't only making quota matter? Or they won't approve notreallyalawyer12/20/17
It depends on the judge. Some judges will make you revise a john0912/20/17
My judge is very detailed and my decisions are pretty long. esquire201412/20/17
OH, we had efficiency training with a top producer at the Bo esquire201412/20/17
My wife works at the Board. She knows the top producer you a john0912/20/17
You are lucky with the judge you have, and that is great. It somefed12/20/17
I'm just not a negative person. I've been trained to make th esquire201412/20/17
True, but that single judge who hates you can get you fired john0912/20/17
John, you are wayyyy too into bad-mouthing BVA to not be spe lawyerinthecity12/21/17
It is easy to say you can make the best of it if you are not somefed12/20/17
I can somewhat see both sides. I am at SSA now, but my last downwardslope12/20/17
Yes, it's a part of learning/training. I haven't had a rewri esquire201412/20/17
Curious what do the judges do? notreallyalawyer12/20/17
That's the thing esquire2014, some judges give attorneys low john0912/20/17
Oh ok! I thought you worked there and were speaking from per esquire201412/20/17
Hahaha, you don’t even work at the Board!!! Thanks for al sunset712/20/17
If you think anything in my comment is factually incorrect, john0912/20/17
Sure, no problem. Yes there are tough judges. When it co sunset712/21/17
I don't troll, it's a waste of my time. That's his name. He esquire201412/20/17
Like I said, check out Research Tools and see how many decis john0912/20/17
I'll look tomorrow. I'll check the last 3-4 years because I esquire201412/20/17
I've actually been in pretty bad situations, but I don't dwe esquire201412/20/17
Is that you whynot? john0912/20/17
Hi, all! I have been at BVA since this summer, and am surpri lawyerinthecity12/20/17
Okay Madam Chairman! john0912/20/17
Haha! Definitely not a Chairman. And completely willing to lawyerinthecity12/20/17
If hired, I hope that offer stands. hopefulfedatty201812/20/17
100%. lawyerinthecity12/20/17
Again, your posts are hilarious. How dare someone enjoy thei sunset712/21/17
Thanks for your input! It's good to see more positivity on h esquire201412/20/17
Honestly I was interested in the job and thought alot of the bigboom12/21/17
If by “syntax style” you mean an attorney saying that it downwardslope12/21/17
First off - sorry for my rude posts last night. Note to self sunset712/21/17
Just FYI, I am not doing damage control, GS11 isn’t enough sunset712/21/17
Oh I see, so it was just a coincidence that three or four po john0912/21/17
I am sorry that your wife was “shaken,” how awful for he sunset712/21/17
Well, if you know the guy, he should have told you about how john0912/21/17
I know all about that. sunset712/21/17
If I have written anything false or incorrect about the atto john0912/21/17
It is not my place to discuss the details of someone else’ sunset712/21/17
Also keep in mind that nearly 100 BVA attorneys signed the l john0912/21/17
Also keep in mind that congress confirmed a Chairman who was sunset712/21/17
But if unless you are a superman decision writer, it appears notreallyalawyer12/21/17
If you come from a state or local job, they might very well downwardslope12/21/17
After reading some of the comments here, I actually asked my sunset712/21/17
First, Congress does not care about internal employee compla john0912/21/17
Unfounded accusations? Are you kidding? I work at the Boar sunset712/21/17
Was the attorney a minority or gay? I’m concerned about bo skevin64912/21/17
The attorney who was fired today is a black man. Your experi john0912/21/17
The Board is very diverse. The judges in that article are no sunset712/21/17
Again, you can't make broad statements like that without per john0912/21/17
What do you mean “broad” statements? That the Board is sunset712/21/17
I'm talking about your tendency to take a rosy view of the j john0912/21/17
Again, you have no idea what you are talking about. I obviou sunset712/21/17
You're right, some judges want top notch decisions. Keep in john0912/21/17
I feel like you don’t believe I work at the Board. All of sunset712/21/17
Which part do you think is slowing you down? Is it the recor jinomas12/20/17
For me, the most time-intensive part of the process is pulli lawyerinthecity12/20/17
Any more information about the writing test. Are all intervi bigboom12/21/17
timed writing test-draft a legal analysis in 45 minutes with hopelesslyunemployed12/21/17
Just had my interview, crossing fingers for an offer. I aske asdfghjkl12/21/17
from what I am hearing, they want people started by february hopelesslyunemployed12/21/17
I've heard conflicting reports about the writing as well. I bigboom12/21/17
it's a proctored writing test (maybe they want to make sure hopelesslyunemployed12/21/17
Handwritten or typed? notreallyalawyer12/21/17
Greetings, Had my interview yesterday. I interviewed with hopefulesq7112/21/17
I couldn't remember any of the panel's names, though I'm pre asdfghjkl12/21/17
How will you send thank you letters? notreallyalawyer12/21/17
Email whomever contacted you to set up the interview and ask govlaw12/21/17
that's a good idea, I think I'll do that. asdfghjkl12/21/17
Interviewees asking about the letter explains the patsies ab bigboom12/21/17
If I could find out If being fired won’t destroy my chance notreallyalawyer12/21/17
My colleague said that the Judge told him "we won't be firin hopefulesq7112/21/17
Lawyers are professionals and not entitled to OT. I said I notreallyalawyer12/21/17
True, but in the federal government, lawyers are entitled to john0912/21/17
Unfortunately, your colleague's judge is not being honest. M john0912/21/17
Fired or asked to resign? notreallyalawyer12/21/17
I don't know whether management gave the attorney the opport john0912/21/17
John, seriously? What is your goal here. I heard about this lawyerinthecity12/21/17
Okay, as you probably know, there is no standard for scoring john0912/21/17
Again, you have no idea what you are talking about. Stop tal sunset712/21/17
Okay, my wife knows that guy who was fired. She knows what h john0912/21/17
I know you are speaking out of your ass. I know the judge he sunset712/21/17
You're acting like a douche again, sunset7. You (among other 123xyz12/21/17
Haha, maybe I am just a douche, like everyone else here. At sunset712/22/17
So you expect us to believe that a person who says he came o downwardslope12/22/17
You should never "feel good about being a douche". If you do bigboom12/22/17
Lawyers are humans not machines or robots. I have tremendous hopefulesq7112/21/17
Wish I had that luxury. When you have no marketability you b notreallyalawyer12/21/17
I understand but be careful how desperate you get...sometime hopefulesq7112/21/17
At this point I wouldn’t mind living in those tiny homes s notreallyalawyer12/21/17
@notreallyalawyer, I know your pain haha. I've been on medic asdfghjkl12/21/17
Can’t you do doc review in the meanwhile? As much as I hat notreallyalawyer12/21/17
I've signed up with multiple doc review agencies but nothing asdfghjkl12/21/17
Some reviews only require any bar but most require DC. Are y notreallyalawyer12/21/17
Oh thank you! I didn't see that one yet! Will send in my res asdfghjkl12/21/17
Do it quickly notreallyalawyer12/21/17
The start date for that project is now December 26 notreallyalawyer12/21/17
If it isn’t too far, you should look for projects in Balti sunset712/21/17
O.K. Boys and girls. Let us put on our critical thinking cap sk8girl9912/21/17
You mean the one positive review on Glassdoor? Yes, writing john0912/21/17
Kelli Kordich who is now a judge at the Board. She must have sunset712/21/17
I can decipher most if the signatures on the loss of confide bigboom12/22/17
As I have noticed several times, people enjoy posting here w sunset702/07/18
What kind of moron would post on JDU from a work computer? somefed12/22/17
Those positive reviews on Glassdoor are from BVA HR or some hopefulesq7112/22/17
Any sense on number of people being brought in for interview hopelesslyunemployed12/22/17
I know 5 to 10 who interviewed. It seems like they were inte bigboom12/22/17
"5 to 10???" That is a pretty large range when it comes t sunset702/07/18
Interviewed early in the week and contacted shortly after to hopefulfedatty201812/22/17
interviews have been going on the past 3 weeks at least to m hopelesslyunemployed12/22/17
are they having everyone interviewed take the writing test? hopefulesq7112/22/17
This writing test stuff is very baffling to me. I was interv bigboom12/22/17
bigboom, I agree with you. I wonder if they are asking on hopefulesq7112/22/17
They might be waiting to have everyone take test together as hopelesslyunemployed12/22/17
I declined an offer once from them and years later they invi notreallyalawyer12/22/17
They are asking everyone I think to do the writing test. Min angiepriss12/24/17
I think so too that everyone is being asked to take the writ hopelesslyunemployed12/24/17
My friend told me they wanted him to take the writing test o bigboom12/25/17
Bigboom, maybe people with more work experience do not have somefed12/25/17
What is a “SC” vet? t3success12/25/17
Service connected disability, I would guess. govlaw12/25/17
Did anybody learn anything else interesting at the interview jinomas12/25/17
The Veterans Benefits Administration has more than 20,000 em somefed12/25/17
I wonder if the SSA applicants have to take the writing test jinomas12/25/17
Bigboom, I agree with you. I have not been contacted to t hopefulesq7112/26/17
Keep in mind feds got a 2 percent pay raise. Gs11 now pays a notreallyalawyer12/26/17
Gs 11 step 1 fire 2018 would be 68,036 pretty hard to live o bigboom12/26/17
Well it’s more than it was and with the tax cuts a lot bet notreallyalawyer12/26/17
You make about that much doing doc review with 50 hours a we hopefulesq7112/26/17
Yes. However you can’t assume you’ll get OT doing doc re notreallyalawyer12/26/17
True. However I question whether it's worth the mental and p hopefulesq7112/26/17
One of the reasons I declined the interview was my fear I’ notreallyalawyer12/26/17
Other than in house counsel jobs are there non mentally abus notreallyalawyer12/27/17
Please don't think that way. I really believe in the say tha hopefulesq7112/26/17
Pardon the typo in my previous email. I meant to say NOT an hopefulesq7112/26/17
Thanks. Perhaps I have a chance if I make a career change bu notreallyalawyer12/26/17
sometimes we bring our own anxiety by putting very high/unfa hopefulesq7112/26/17
This. We have all had bad jobs/bosses/situations. You have t govlaw12/26/17
I agree . I just have really bad genetic anxiety. My mom bar notreallyalawyer12/26/17
If you find something outside of career to be good at, you w govlaw12/26/17
if you say you are going to do poorly on anything you are de hopefulesq7112/26/17
Happy holidays guys! I declined the call back for written asdfghjkl12/27/17
Good luck! Wish I could get a job like that. You must have m notreallyalawyer12/27/17
Thank you! No mad skillz, just a lot of nonprofit experience asdfghjkl12/27/17
Must be nice having work experience . notreallyalawyer12/27/17
asdfghjkl, Congratulations! Sounds like you made the hopefulesq7112/27/17
I still have not been contacted. I think it's a blessing in hopefulesq7112/27/17
Isn’t the BVA at McPherson? Can’t they house people in t notreallyalawyer12/27/17
I haven't been contacted since the interview either.I think bigboom12/27/17
The Board left McPherson about six years ago. It is now loc somefed12/27/17
it's not off Gallery place. It's a few blocks away from eith hopefulesq7112/27/17
I mean it is in the general Gallery Pl area, 425 I street to somefed12/27/17
Lol, you haven’t been to the Navy Yard in the past few yea burneremail01/03/18
Actually I go there all the time for baseball games "lol." I somefed01/05/18
If you don’t get fired you do do those long hours of unpai notreallyalawyer12/27/17
The back and forth of these posts aside, did anyone hear muc curiousposter12/27/17
What was your timeline so far? How long between your interv jinomas12/27/17
It was a week between the interview and the test. Was impres curiousposter12/27/17
sounds right-it was about a week after the interview that I hopelesslyunemployed12/27/17
My writing test was about a week after my interview as well. hopefulfedatty201812/28/17
i am guessing early january for offers since they want to tr hopelesslyunemployed12/27/17
January seems right. I wonder what they'll do about backgrou bigboom12/27/17
My judge said February and no mention of a test. hopefulesq7112/28/17
Isn’t what you do at the BVA basically what a clerk for a notreallyalawyer12/29/17
With ample opinions given on the good, bad, and ugly aspects sendlawyers01/02/18
One correction for the above, there are not 300 openings. I whynot01/02/18
Thanks to whynot for the correction! The edited summary is sendlawyers01/02/18
And in mid March first person quits after realizing being st bigboom01/04/18
Is that worse than doc review though? notreallyalawyer01/04/18
Thanks for summarizing. When you say first cut does that mea hopefulesq7101/03/18
Any updates on this position? startupesq01/04/18
I have not heard anything yet. Maybe it is taking awhile to hopelesslyunemployed01/04/18
I also have not heard anything. I interviewed on 12/6 and to toosexyformygrade01/04/18
Does anyone have a definitive answer on being asked to resig notreallyalawyer01/04/18
I know you were debating whether to interview. Did you end startupesq01/04/18
No, I declined it because I was afraid of being fired and ha notreallyalawyer01/04/18
Before they fire you, they strip you naked and force you to dcm198301/04/18
Someone above talked about the guy with the highest numbers bigboom01/04/18
No, you can't really compare work between attorneys fairly. dcm198301/04/18
What do the judges do besides tell people to rewrite opinion notreallyalawyer01/05/18
notreallyalawyer, They edit your work and scream at you a hopefulesq7101/05/18
I’m sure even if you get rejected they’ll tell you notreallyalawyer01/05/18
No. I have interviewed for 4 fed positions and heard not a w downwardslope01/05/18
Some Fed jobs will let you know by way of usajobs notice. So bigboom01/05/18
The judges are also responsible for conducting hearings. The somefed01/05/18
That's not true. I never heard from SSA until after I sent t hopefulesq7101/05/18
Had a similar experience. Had to harass HR until they gave m kramer71601/05/18
What does the writing test consist of? rayjudicata01/05/18
I heard it's like a bar exam. They give you a fact pattern, hopefulesq7101/05/18
Anyone know if any offers have gone out yet? hopelesslyunemployed01/09/18
I received a tentative offer today, I interviewed the first toosexyformygrade01/09/18
congrats! did the e-mail mention a start date? still have hopelesslyunemployed01/09/18
Don't even give the weekend to think about it. They sure hav bigboom01/10/18
I've never heard of a federal job offer through opm (unless bigboom01/11/18
This is because you have never been offered a federal job. sunset702/07/18
Did they offer multiple start dates? startupesq01/11/18
were you asked to take a written test? hopefulesq7101/10/18
I received an email thanking me for my interest and encourag bigboom01/16/18
Sorry to hear that man. Did you email them and get that in r curiousposter01/16/18
Still have not heard anything. Took writing test late Decem hopelesslyunemployed01/16/18
I appreciate the thoughts but no need to be sorry being reje bigboom01/16/18
I'm back, thought I was done. But just to show what a turd s bigboom01/18/18
Wow. It looks like 100 more openings. Wasn’t the last post downwardslope01/18/18
I asked about their hiring expectations during the interview curiousposter01/18/18
The new announcement mentions the 11/03/17 deadline so I'm w startupesq01/18/18
Maybe I am being hopeful, but I can't say how many times I'v curiousposter01/18/18
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/View Details/488861000 The somefed01/18/18
Yeah, it is... However, if you read the entire listing, und startupesq01/18/18
Is this latest posting for 100 attorneys in addition to the hopelesslyunemployed01/18/18
Good news! They are looking to hire a lot of attorneys, and lydia01/23/18
I've read a few comments here about a large portion of exist wickerpark01/23/18
The management fired of a lot of people at the end of the fi lydia01/23/18
Thank you for that. In terms of judges, are there a few more wickerpark01/23/18
They will switch to you a different judge as new people come lydia01/23/18
There are definitely differences between judges. Some judge somefed01/24/18
I interviewed for the last announcement and I never heard an jinomas01/23/18
same here-interviewed, came back and took a writing test and hopelesslyunemployed01/23/18
I applied for the last announcement, but heard nothing after lawwen01/24/18
Received an offer, so looks like they are still making selec hopelesslyunemployed01/30/18
Congrats!! Did you hear by email from OPM like the earlier p startupesq01/30/18
I came back just to see if you got one as well, since I knew curiousposter01/30/18
Yep got email from opm with a start date to be determined af hopelesslyunemployed01/30/18
Received an offer via email today as well. Congrats to all rayjudicata01/30/18
(1) New member of this site (2) Received the offer today as cu01462801/31/18
Same. Has anyone gotten back with fingerprinting schedule pisces21302/03/18
Not me. cu01462802/05/18
Fingerprints being done tomorrow. cu01462802/06/18
nice. i still haven't heard anything. pisces21302/06/18
anyone thinking there will be a shutdown? that could slow d hopelesslyunemployed02/06/18
Board employee here...to be fair, the non-board employees on sunset702/06/18
Is it fair for one to assume that if they interviewed and te startupesq02/07/18
No, I don't think that is a fair assumption (based on what I sunset702/07/18
What's the background check like? Did they interview your ne karma02/08/18
The background check isn't super intense, I think it can tak sunset702/11/18
Sorry, I didn't answer your full question. I heard from my sunset702/11/18
new member - got an offer also. finished fingerprints last t yetanotherlawer123402/14/18
I was told that there were two starting dates, March 18 and pisces21302/16/18
Thanks for the info. By chance have you heard anything about yetanotherlawer123402/16/18
Unfortunately, no. I heard that it could be as late (ear pisces21302/16/18
I contacted HR and asked what was going on because my superv yetanotherlawer123403/01/18
I thought it was interesting that not only are they planning wickerpark02/09/18
Word around the hallways at the Board is that they are hirin sunset702/11/18
I applied 1/24 on the most recent posting and just got email iulawmatt02/10/18
For me it was about 3 weeks since the email for the intervie pisces21302/11/18
Does anyone know if the agency will contact current employer esquired1702/13/18
Has anyone heard anything new? readyforachange70602/21/18
Still waiting for an interview here. I got my notice of refe iulawmatt02/21/18
Same here. readyforachange70602/21/18
I interviewed on December 22 and took the writing test on th lawless1802/21/18
Interviewed 12/19 and writing test 12/28, but silence since startupesq02/21/18
Interviewed 12/20, took exam 12/28. Tentative offer 1/30 pisces21302/22/18
FYI folks, BVA will soon be accepting applications for GS-09 john0902/25/18
Appreciate the update. May throw my hat into the ring and se kramer71602/25/18
Interesting development considering that it seems like they iulawmatt02/26/18
The GS-9 positions will be for recent graduates who haven’ sunset702/28/18
I have heard that they plan on doing hiring through the summ jinomas02/26/18
Wow, that's a remarkably low rate if accurate. iulawmatt02/26/18
Yeah, I call BS on that statistic. Just think about it - If john0902/26/18
All I know is that I'm two and a half weeks waiting on heari iulawmatt02/26/18
Isn’t the writing test new with this hiring wave? If so, i downwardslope02/26/18
There you go again, talking about things you know nothing ab sunset702/28/18
Are you saying that most of the applicants were not qualifie dcm198302/28/18
sunset7 - Take a look at my posting on Feb. 25 - I said exac john0902/28/18
Any news on start dates? What is the current morale at the legaleagle22302/27/18
Some people selected from the November posting are starting wickerpark03/01/18
It depends on who you ask. People who can do the work quick somefed03/02/18
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/View Details/492702900 startupesq03/01/18
Anyone, referred on or around February 9th, heard anything o readyforachange70603/02/18
Nothing for me yet. I'm hoping to hear something in the next iulawmatt03/02/18
Last week they scheduled interviews and writing tests on the jinomas03/06/18
when did they call for interviews? readyforachange70603/06/18
I think what he meant is that they had interviews and writin iulawmatt03/06/18
Thanks Matt. I haven't heard anything yet here either. silvere203/06/18
02/23: Email notification of selection for an interview. 02 jinomas03/06/18
Jinomas--for which announcement, if you know? silvere203/06/18
January. On the same day as my interview selection email ca jinomas03/07/18
Congratulations. Did you apply in January? iulawmatt03/07/18
So interview invites went out for the latest announcement th silvere203/06/18
I have to imagine (hope?) that they don't send literally eve iulawmatt03/07/18
I agree. jinomas03/07/18
I'll do the same. Would you mind posting here when (if?) you silvere203/07/18
I just talked with my friend who currently works at the Boar iulawmatt03/07/18
Yeah maybe. I do find it weird that none of the rest of us g silvere203/07/18
I went ahead and applied. It's been a month and a half since iulawmatt03/10/18
Yeah, you're right, it's better to be safe than sorry. I'm g silvere203/10/18
Absolutely, that's a very real possibility, and probably the iulawmatt03/10/18
Received firm offer yesterday for April 2nd start date. cu01462803/07/18
Congratulations! iulawmatt03/07/18
Congrats! readyforachange70603/07/18
Thanks. Was just trying to let people know it is happening. cu01462803/07/18
It seems like they’ve now moved on to posting a temporary downwardslope03/09/18
The Board is hiring both admitted attorneys, and law school whynot03/09/18
Would you happen to know when someone interviewed February 2 buttertasting03/09/18
Butter, were you a January applicant as well? iulawmatt03/09/18
The writing test proctor said a week or two, so hopefully by jinomas03/14/18
I made an assumption above that the Board had not yet called iulawmatt03/10/18
Buttertasting; While I do not know the answer to your que cu01462803/09/18
Thank you! Found it buttertasting03/10/18
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/View Details/492702900 Boar somefed03/14/18
Admin please delete somefed03/14/18
Double post. Admin please delete somefed03/14/18
Double post somefed03/14/18
Has anyone gotten notification of selection got an interview iulawmatt03/14/18
This was on my phone so I apparently either fell victim to a iulawmatt03/14/18
You're probably sick of seeing my name, but nothing here eit silvere203/14/18
Nah, not sick of you at all. Just trying to gather informati iulawmatt03/15/18
For the previous round, it took me a full month since referr pisces21303/15/18
Thanks for the insight Pisces. The waiting is the hardest pa iulawmatt03/15/18
For your reading pleasure, Politico published an article abo john0903/15/18
See also this link - letter from six members of Congress to john0903/15/18
Here is another letter from a member of Congress concerning john0903/15/18
Thanks for sharing the the source documents. jinomas03/16/18
John09 again... You mentioned you're not applying for the toosexyformygrade03/16/18
You may disagree with the tone of my messages, but my charac john0903/17/18
Once you get past the 2 year probation, don't you have job s legaleagle22303/17/18
Thanks-is it really risky to accept a job offer at VA? What legaleagle22303/16/18
Legaleagle223, There is slightly more security as an expe somefed03/18/18
Thanks somefed. How risky of a move would it be for a curre legaleagle22303/18/18
@legaleagle223 If you are a permanent GS-13 employee at a john0903/18/18
The risks are very legitimate. Most people are stressed now somefed03/18/18
Why on earth would anyone leave a gs-13? Don’t all attorne downwardslope03/18/18
I received my rejection email today. I can't even remember w kramer71603/16/18
Sorry to hear that, Kramer. Are you going to throw your hat iulawmatt03/16/18
That sucks Kramer. I would encourage you to try again. The somefed03/17/18
You mean they're sending emails about it inside the agency? iulawmatt03/17/18
We do receive emails when there is announcement on USA Jobs. somefed03/17/18
I will throw my hat into the ring once more. I am working th kramer71603/19/18
did you guys see this?: https://federalnewsradio.com/vete hopelesslyunemployed03/20/18
According to the Adverse Action reports from 2017 and 2018, pisces21303/20/18
Don't let the numbers fool you Pisces213. Management at the john0903/20/18
That's what happened to the nearly 30 year employee, who was john0903/20/18
Long-time BVA employee here, and I can confirm that this is bvaer03/21/18
Can you (or any other BVA AA) define/give examples of “liv natis1103/21/18
I will give you an example. A 10 issue case with 500 docume somefed03/21/18
To add to somefed's comment, if you complain about judge num john0903/21/18
Also, in light of the increased production standard, the atm john0903/21/18
As with much of VA, that number does not tell the whole stor somefed03/21/18
The more I learn about the VA on this thread, the more I thi wolfman03/21/18
Wolfman, there are a few good things. Next week, we are goin somefed03/21/18
The reason why the Board is so messed up is because manageme john0903/21/18
Maybe I’m misunderstanding but that doesn’t sound like a natis1103/21/18
I'm not sure what specific acts you are looking for, and, of john0903/21/18
if the Board increases production quota by another 50 cases hopelesslyunemployed03/21/18
As already discussed above, your judge and your supervisor h bvaer03/22/18
Agreed, BVAer. It is very difficult to explain the difficul somefed03/22/18
Anyone else starting on 4/2? toosexyformygrade03/23/18
I am. They're supposed to give me more documents before I do pisces21303/23/18
Got the reporting instructions yesterday for the 4/2 start. cu01462803/27/18
For the folks who work at the Board, Are you using laptop toosexyformygrade03/27/18
We have laptops and dual monitors. The hardware is fine. The dcm198303/27/18
Toosexyformygrade, What do you mean by OCR-ing of records somefed03/28/18
Thanks somefed, I guess OCR stands for optical character rec toosexyformygrade03/28/18
So I was brainstorming an issue raised earlier about having natis1103/28/18
Natis11, I do not think the Board offers comp time. I co somefed03/28/18
natis I'm sorry, but your plan to request religious comp john0903/28/18
Has anyone from the February interviews heard back yet? lawwen04/03/18
Tentative offer/acceptance today. natis1104/03/18
Not like it was terribly surprising but I got my rejection e iulawmatt04/11/18
Same. T14 school, 5 years in biglaw, straight rejection (not silvere204/11/18
Warm bodies who won’t leave unless fired/asked to resign f izzymandelbaum04/11/18
From what I saw, most of the new hires were ssa/veterans/pub pisces21304/27/18
Iulawmatt and silvere, Many of the newest hires are recen somefed04/11/18
Somefed, thank you for your response, I do appreciate it. Th silvere204/11/18
SSA leans toward more experienced. That is probably a better downwardslope04/12/18
I'm going to leave VA for SSA. Can't do it anymore, and I h legallybrunette204/26/18
Legallybrunette2, are you leaving because of the production somefed04/26/18
Yes, and job security generally. They use scare tactics and legallybrunette204/26/18
If anyone is interested, here's a letter dated April 26, 201 bva12304/28/18
I was shocked by some of the comments in this survey. Seems somefed04/28/18
BVA issued me a tentative offer, and I accepted. However, a newkid50404/29/18
A lot of people leave SSA to go to VA due to the lure of the john0904/29/18
but job security is greater at ssa (they don't have the ssa hopelesslyunemployed04/29/18
I would accept unless you are happy with where you are at. B pisces21304/29/18
Out of curiosity pisces213, didn't you join the Board just l john0904/29/18
Yes. Was doing temp work immediately before and it’s defin pisces21304/30/18
Newkid504, It is hard to give advice about whether to acc somefed04/29/18
somefed - I agree with you 100 percent. The union did a bva12304/29/18
I'm in a clerkship that ends in 6 months. newkid50404/29/18
The union asked what our biggest stressor at the Board is. somefed04/30/18
Wait until you try to get promoted and you find out how corr bvaer04/30/18
I thought the promotion process was standard, meaning after newkid50404/30/18
No, I mean if you want to advance to Senior Counsel or Judge bvaer04/30/18
Has anyone interviewed from the April 1-June 1 opening on US pam14505/26/18
I applied during the March deadline, was referred to a hirin steaknlobster06/06/18
Folks currently at BVA, how are things right now? No one ha newkid50405/26/18
They are all fired by now lol izzymandelbaum05/27/18
are you really joking or are you being somewhat serious? newkid50405/27/18
50/50 izzymandelbaum05/29/18
I left the BVA because I found it to be a terrible work envi formerbvaer05/27/18
You don't have to be a savant to meet the quota. All you nee john0905/27/18
why did you say there is zero growth potential? newkid50405/27/18
I'm not sure what formerbvaer meant to say with that comment john0905/27/18
John09 is more or less on point; the skills you learn at BVA formerbvaer05/28/18
You stated the skills don't translate into anything meaningf newkid50405/28/18
A lot of GS-13/14 attorneys are jumping ship to private VA d john0905/28/18
John09's response is exactly what I meant. The exit options formerbvaer05/28/18
What was the name of the disability shop (not in DC)? I am i newkid50405/28/18
Formerbvaer, If you were just applying slapdash veterans somefed05/28/18
What is your opinion regarding the environment at BVA? newkid50405/28/18
The environment as a whole is pretty impersonal and focused somefed05/29/18
Yeah, but are they doing okay because they are working long newkid50405/29/18
The attorneys all work unpaid hours there for the most part. izzymandelbaum05/29/18
FYI, per Trump's executive order, federal agencies can no lo john0905/30/18
Does anyone know anything about being referred to a hiring m steaknlobster06/06/18
Unrelated as I don't know the answer to your question--there silvere206/07/18
One opening closed 3/29, reopened again a few weeks later, a steaknlobster06/07/18
Same here 4givemyloans06/07/18
I was referred for the closing for June 1. Interview April w pam14506/07/18
Congratulations. jinomas06/08/18
Congrats Pam. Did you apply to the GS-9 or the GS-11? 4givemyloans06/08/18
I applied to both. The offer was for gs9 I have over 2+ year pam14506/08/18
Do you have federal experience? If so, did you negotiate a jinomas06/08/18
No federal expierence but had clerkship and private practice pam14506/09/18
does the entry-level law clerk position have the same quota mera8806/11/18
Just an FYI. I was not referred for the GS-9 opening, but I kramer71606/13/18
I was notified earlier that I was referred again for the GS- steaknlobster06/13/18
Mera88, The GS-9 law clerk has the same quota. However, somefed06/14/18
Is hiring still going on or can we assume if we didn't get i jaystakes07/03/18
The Board is ALWAYS hiring new attorneys. john0907/03/18
Wow, are they planning to expand to other areas besides DC ( jaystakes07/03/18
The Board is always hiring people because of very high attri john0907/03/18
yea...I got that from this thread. Sounds like nearly bigla jaystakes07/03/18
Actually, I'm pretty sure fed employees, at least bargaining karma07/04/18
Don't say you're willing to work a lot of unpaid extra hours bvaer07/04/18
I would advise against using the Board as a jumping stone to john0907/04/18
Sounds like an unwarranted risk unless you are prepared to w underemployedlawyer07/04/18
There are rumors that the Chairman plans to increase the quo somefed07/04/18
My wife thinks that the Board's annual goal for next year wi john0907/04/18
Buck up, soldiers! Requiring a full 8 hour work day inste icaredoyou07/06/18
Bumping this thread to see how the new people are doing. somefed07/26/18
At a recent hearing, the Chairman provided a description of jklein199007/26/18
Fired lol. Jk. Well...maybe izzymandelbaum07/26/18
Take a look at the FY 2018 survey to see how attorneys at th johnattorney07/26/18
oh my! legaleagle22307/26/18
OMG, is this real? Some of those attorneys sound borderline tiffer1107/29/18
No. But the low prestige ones are a lot worse than the high underemployedlawyer07/30/18
Did the Chairman tell Congress that EVERY case takes 8 hours somefed07/26/18
in 2016 they experimented with a system with no quota. The jklein199007/27/18
Just watched it. She testified that we read every page of t somefed07/27/18
Yes, she lied to congress. It's not believable that a perso lakerman9907/29/18
https://mast.house.gov/committees lakerman9907/29/18
I think most of us know it is not possible to read literally somefed07/29/18
It is important that the Veterans have knowledge of how thei lakerman9907/29/18
Let's be honest, the Board's mission isn't to purely serve v formerbvaer08/01/18
Here's a better plan: (1) Medicare for all. (2) Replace th dcm198308/01/18
They're starting to check on everyone's production at the bo rissa08/15/18
Don’t think that public will have much sympathy with lawye underemployedlawyer08/16/18
Awww...you misunderstand. I'm sorry. The attorneys aren't rissa08/16/18
To be brutally honest, I think the Board will only change wh john0908/18/18
There were two suicides at the Board in the last five years. bvaer08/20/18
It is beyond sad to think that anyone at the Board has been somefed08/21/18
Countless desperate people to fill the slots. Nobody cares a underemployedlawyer08/21/18
Hey everyone, I was just offered an attorney advisor positio legallybronze9308/27/18
The Board isn't for everybody, and I think it attracts a ver formerbvaer08/27/18
The results of VA's All Employee Survey (AES) were just rele bvaer08/28/18
Really? I am struggling this year due both to the higher nu somefed08/28/18
unless the judge you will be clerking for is known to go to pisces21308/28/18
A foot in the door won't be helpful for those who get fired. john0908/28/18
run for your life. It looks like they're gearing up for ano lydia08/28/18
So I spoke with the former clerk and she's currently unemplo legallybronze9308/28/18
I will say this: Think about whether you can spend hours re somefed08/28/18
Based on these reviews, the BVA sounds like UTTER HELL. I g catwoman33309/07/18
Actually, almost every judge at the Board came from inside t somefed09/07/18
I'm sorry to disturb those who are grinding away in the offi john0909/09/18
Because once you get to the part of your BVA career where yo formerbvaer09/10/18
I was a senior attorney (14) at the Board, and worked there keydet09/10/18
Hi keydet. Welcome to the board! I, too, am a relative catwoman33309/12/18
I think that most VLJ's would welcome a lower standard becau somefed09/10/18
I wouldn't be surprised if management increased the quota to john0909/11/18
They should set it at 150k. No one who still has a job is s lydia09/11/18
There are still a lot of attorneys who review every document somefed09/11/18
(1) CAVC JMRs and remands is a very small percentage of the lydia09/11/18
Anyone who has been here for a while has seen numerous JMRs somefed09/11/18
Since the production panic set in, most people cite CAVC pre lydia09/11/18
Is everyone going to the cake party today. Remember, busine somefed09/19/18
the Secretary will be there. Everyone be sure to say hello. lydia09/19/18
Make sure you toe the line at the event. Otherwise, you won' john0909/19/18
Congratulations on reaching 81,000 decisions! Did the cake m john0909/19/18
Congratulations indeed! As a reward, the Board-wide quota f bvaer09/25/18
Congrats! There’s gonna be more churning the midnight oil john0909/25/18
3.5-4 cases a week... dcm198309/25/18
Has 3.5-4 per week been confirmed? All they announced so fa bvaer09/25/18
Surprises... how exciting! I’m betting the new standard wi john0909/25/18
how difficult is it to do 4 cases a week at the board? legaleagle22309/25/18
It’s hard if your judge is trying to follow an equipoise s dcm198309/26/18
In the dozen or so years I was there, the Board was never wh keydet09/20/18
Also, for those of you looking to make a move, my advice is keydet09/20/18
If you are pressured to resign from this job and do not have dcm198309/23/18
@dcm1983, respectfully, NO!! NO!! NO!! If you refuse to catwoman33309/23/18
Catwoman, what are you talking about? Do you really believe john0909/23/18
"Do you really believe an employer has grounds for firing an catwoman33309/23/18
Catwoman- the current EO out says that federal agencies must downwardslope09/23/18
Resigning would only be preferable if you could honestly say dcm198309/23/18

jdmaryland (Oct 21, 2017 - 4:09 pm)

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/482405700

Reply
kramer716 (Oct 21, 2017 - 4:24 pm)

Thank you.

Reply
bva123 (Apr 28, 2018 - 12:33 pm)

If anyone is interested, here's a letter dated April 26, 2018 from our union to the Chairman of the Board of Veterans' Appeals regarding the work environment at the Board. I strongly advise you to read the letter if you are currently considering employment at the Board.

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/e5915566-738d-4c5b-bd1a-b33e44b3c6f4

Reply
jdmaryland (Oct 21, 2017 - 4:40 pm)

You got this Kramer!

Reply
kramer716 (Oct 21, 2017 - 4:44 pm)

Nice thought, but been beaten down by this process a lot, so I am a glass completely empty kind of guy. Don't want to get my hopes up, but will definitely apply.

Reply
petunia (Oct 21, 2017 - 5:02 pm)

Chin up! The odds are good!

Reply
notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 3:51 pm)

From what I’ve heard it’s a horrible job due to the work quotas. Zero job security and many people get fired after about 6 months of work hence why they do these mass hiring to replace the people they fired who couldn’t work quickly enough . Sounds too stressful for me and I’m not going to even apply for this one.

Reply
thirdtierlaw (Oct 22, 2017 - 4:06 pm)

Seriously? I thought you were unemployed and live in D.C.

How is this less secure than doc review? It'd also give you something to put on your resume.

Reply
notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 4:34 pm)

THats one benefit but you’d get only 6 months on your resume and have to explain you got fired for not meeting quotas. Sounds highly stressful too. I read some arbitration opinion which states that even in 2013 it was so bad people had to use vacation time to meet their quotas
http://afgenvac.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Arbitration-Decision-Strikes-Down-Strict-Weekly-Quota-Enforcement-Pending-Completion-of-Further-Negotiations.pdf

Hear it is much much worse now and zero job security

Reply
downwardslope (Oct 22, 2017 - 6:34 pm)

So you can apply and if you get an interview, ask about those things. You have no job and shoot down every option suggested.

Reply
blackholelaw (Oct 23, 2017 - 11:06 am)

I'm beginning to think notreallyalawyer is a troll.

Reply
inho2solo (Oct 23, 2017 - 12:56 pm)

what took you so long?

Reply
kramer716 (Oct 22, 2017 - 6:56 pm)

Ignore. Tried to edit but I think I hit reply instead, so this post is superflous.

Reply
kramer716 (Oct 22, 2017 - 6:57 pm)

Agreed. Is it an ideal position? No. Have I heard it sucks, and have I heard about people leaving en masse? Yes. Having said that would I take the job tomorrow? Oh hell yes, happily.

From what I have read about the SBA job I think the working conditions are worse than this position. You are working a minimum of 40 hours a week at SBA and possibly doing 12 hour days 7 days a week. If you are ok with those requirements then I would throw my hat in the ring for this position, but that is me. IF you don't want this job, then I am more than happy that one less person is applying.

Reply
notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:09 pm)

The SBA job pays hourly so your likely make more money doing that. Any extra hours you’d work at the VA you wouldn’t get paid for. From what I’m
Told around 6-8 months into the job many many lawyers are asked to resign which is apparently slightly better than being fired. It looks like a miserable embattled government agency with huge backlogs and the subject matter is very depressing. Seeing that many government jobs have even no job security this has convinced me my only salvation is leaving law. I’ve been miserable every day for the past 18 years of my life and I can’t even contemplate anyone enjoying being a lawyer. What could someone possibly enjoy other than getting paid? If I were 10 years younger I’d apply for this job and risk the stress of it should I even get it, but now I’m worried even about my health how much more stress can I take? The serious depression I’m in now isn’t helping but you should apply for this from the sound of things

Reply
kramer716 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:18 pm)

I will be applying, and if practicing law makes you miserable then I agree it may not be for you. I would offer some advice, but no clue what situation you would thrive in. I like the advice that someone gave you, actually not really advice I think he just said what he did instead of practicing law, and that is become a teacher. If I could talk to myself circa post undergrad, but before law school I would have gone back to become a teacher and teach history. I chose the massive debt road though, so I will be picking my poison with the SBA or VA.

You are correct about SBA paying hourly, and I would probably make more. The SBA is also temporary, although I have seen pages that said it could go for a year or two. The VA job is permanent assuming I can make the quota. I will apply to the VA and hope for the best. I wish you well.

Reply
notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:28 pm)

Thanks. . Good luck to you. I applied with them in March and didn’t even get referred. I didn’t know much about the job back then know a lot more now.
I wish I could teach. I was a history major but I cannot even strong together a coherent sentence I get so nervous speaking. It makes me feel so incompetent

Reply
kramer716 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:32 pm)

No clue where you live, but I can with 99.9% certainty say there is a demand for substitute teachers where you are. Go apply. You can be a teacher for a day or two, and you very rarely have to actually teach. I was a sub for about a year and a half, and I only actually had to teach about two classes. You will usually just have to proctor homework and make sure they don't turn the classroom into thunderdome. You can practice your speaking. Just write yourself a script and follow it. If you don't like it then just take your name off the list, but it's money. You can probably make a little over a grand per month while you look for something else.

Reply
notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:38 pm)

If my finances improve I might try that to see it but right now I need to do doc review just to pay my bills. When I get out of debt I’ll have a lot more options.

Reply
kramer716 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:51 pm)

100% agreed if you are doing doc review, but if you aren't working at the moment then you can do worse than substitute teaching.

Reply
notreallyalawyer (Oct 23, 2017 - 1:13 pm)

I have some doc review gig that's supposed to start soon, but the start date keeps on getting pushed back. It was supposed to start last week.. I'm just hoping it actually starts in the next week or two.

Reply
kramer716 (Oct 23, 2017 - 1:15 pm)

Yeah I had one in Detroit like that. Kept pushing the start date back and they ended up pulling it. Wasn't happy.

Reply
mxab54 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:25 pm)

Folks,

As someone with firsthand experience at the Board, I can honestly say that the Board is a horrible place to work. I could spend hours recounting the negative and demeaning experiences that I've had at the Board. But, there's no need for me to recount my personal experiences - our Union has a nice summary of life at the Board dated September 2017, which is addressed to the Secretary of VA and the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs, and signed by nearly 100 Board attorneys.

https://www.afge.org/contentassets/a91c998d3be44362a75c5c67c60852f7/loss-of-confidence-statement.pdf

Reply
notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:32 pm)

MY lord that’s depressing and they even rejected me. My only hope is a nightmare position. The low pay of government work with none of the job security and still has high stress .

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mxab54 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:34 pm)

Also, you all should be aware that the Board increased the production standard for this fiscal year (FY18). Last year (FY17), attorneys only needed to complete 125 cases to meet the minimum standard and complete 145 cases for an exceptional performance rating. This year's standard (FY18), which was implemented this month, requires attorneys to complete 169 cases at minimum. In essence, you must exceed last year's exceptional standard by 24 cases to meet this year's minimum standard.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:39 pm)

How long does it take to do the case is the time influenced by any outside factors or is it all up to how fast you work? What hours do people work weekly?

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mxab54 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:49 pm)

Our nominee for Chairman, recently stated that it takes 8 hours on average to do a case. She stated that the Board is developing standardized language to reduce the time it takes to do each case.

In reality, however, the most time consuming part of each case is case review - it takes many hours to review all of the case documents (writing the decision doesn't take as much time as reviewing the documents). On average, it takes about 16 to 24 hours (that's work hours) to adequately review and write a decision. What does that mean? It means you will be spending many hours of unpaid overtime in excess of the standard 40 hour work week and will spend many hours working during the weekend (FOR FREE!).

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mxab54 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:49 pm)

Our nominee for Chairman, recently stated that it takes 8 hours on average to do a case. She stated that the Board is developing standardized language to reduce the time it takes to do each case.

In reality, however, the most time consuming part of each case is case review - it takes many hours to review all of the case documents (writing the decision doesn't take as much time as reviewing the documents). On average, it takes about 16 to 24 hours (that's work hours) to adequately review and write a decision. What does that mean? It means you will be spending many hours of unpaid overtime in excess of the standard 40 hour work week and will spend many hours working during the weekend (FOR FREE!).

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mxab54 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:43 pm)

Attrition at the Board is sky high. Now, in truth, the Board very rarely fires attorneys. Management prefers to get rid of attorneys by making life miserable for them, so that they will leave "voluntarily." The high production standard isn't the worst thing about the job - it's the toxic environment that causes people to leave or develop mental illnesses.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:45 pm)

If you quit do you get and preference points still for other government jobs or do you lose it?

Is the work difficult to do ?

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mxab54 (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:52 pm)

You do not get preference points for other government jobs if you lose your job at the Board.

The work is complex, but not overly so. However, the training is terrible. This means you will have to learn it by yourself for the most part.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:57 pm)

That frightens me because my experience has caused me to lose and self confidence and completely doubt my abilities and I’d fear not being able to learn how to do the job corrrectly

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spaghetti (Oct 23, 2017 - 10:40 am)

Wow. I know some people through a friend who worked there and they all said it was pretty bad, but mostly due to the high turnover rate and unexpected mass layoffs. He also said it depended almost entirely on the judges you worked for. It always sounded like the most miserable job, especially because the substance seemed boring as hell, but I didn't know it was this bad.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 23, 2017 - 10:56 am)

ITS good to know this but seriously depressing. I had aspired to that job one day think at least it was a realistic option though I was led to believe there was any semblance of job security there. Some did review projects would last longer than the average person does at the BVA. Welp, for me it’s pay off debt so I can go back into debt going back to school for something that makes me more marketable .

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 7:56 pm)

Sounds like married people with kids would do poorly there. Fortunately I have no life have no conflicts to prevent from working as much as needed. Would suck working 60 hour weeks for years and years. I’ve heard if it snows and govt closes you are still expected to meet your quota. Can you at least work the unpaid overtime hours from home?

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mxab54 (Oct 22, 2017 - 8:15 pm)

You cannot work from home during the first year. Keep in mind that management at the Board likes to get rid of attorneys before the first year, so there is no guarantee you will last a full year.

Also, the Board also recently fired a few attorneys with 20+ years of experience for production reasons. Even if you successfully complete the probationary period, you won't have any job security as you can be fired for production reasons.

The main reason why people are so miserable at the Board is due to the toxic environment and the mistreatment of attorneys. The high production standard is only a part of the problem.

I invite all of you to read Kelli Kordich's testimony to Congress regarding the climate at the Board.

http://docs.house.gov/meetings/VR/VR08/20140910/102615/HHRG-113-VR08-Wstate-KordichK-20140910.pdf

https://www.afge.org/contentassets/a91c998d3be44362a75c5c67c60852f7/loss-of-confidence-statement.pdf

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 22, 2017 - 8:18 pm)

I really appreciate your posts and insight. You’ve convinced me I have no choice but to do a career change.

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kramer716 (Oct 23, 2017 - 3:48 pm)

It appears as part of the application process they will require applicants to go through a writing exam. I don't think they did this during the last round of hiring, but could be wrong.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 23, 2017 - 4:29 pm)

You should reread the older thread and see what has changed. Curious how they can test for the skills they want.

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threedham (Oct 24, 2017 - 8:44 am)

I work at the Board now, they're hiring 150 new attorneys in this hiring wave. Mxab54 is largely correct, morale isn't great and the new production standards have a lot of people wondering if the job is doable. 3.4 cases per week seems really, really high. The big boss gave a Board-wide meeting the other week about the new standards, and it was embarrassing. He tried selling the new standard as commensurate with the pace of hiring, which is simply untrue. Everyone left the meeting feeling drained and afraid for their jobs.

I was really optimistic about the job going in, but now that I've been here for a few months, I'm reconsidering. The fast track to GS-14 is great, but the this job has a lot of negatives. There's basically no professional oversight; you're left to your own devices to figure out the law. Yeah you're given a mentor during the three-month boot camp, but they're so overworked that it's tough to get a minute with them. If you're considering this because the pay is good and it's federal, really think hard about it. Job security here feels super, super shaky. The people on production already got a somewhat nasty email about how we're already falling behind target, and we're like two weeks into the FY.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 24, 2017 - 11:54 am)

Curious, even if you were there for years, if they fire you or ask you to resign, you get zero preference points? I think mxab54 said that, but even the people there for 20+ years who get fired for production?

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threedham (Oct 24, 2017 - 1:10 pm)

I don't know the answer to that, but our union cited one instance of a 20+ year attorney who was fired for production reasons recently. I'm positive there was more to that attorney's situation than is publicly known, but it did happen. That said, I only know of this single instance.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 24, 2017 - 1:13 pm)

What are the mathematical odds of someone starting say today and lasting at the BVA for 5 years?

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oddis500 (Oct 25, 2017 - 12:46 am)

So they are only hiring at a GS-11 position?? Lol that might be a contributing factor on why they aren't getting great candidates.

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downwardslope (Oct 25, 2017 - 9:17 am)

I think I have read either here or possibly on another board that people from SSA we’re leaving for this position. They may pay more through a fed employee listing. I can’t imagine you would go from GS-12 step 5 to a GS-11...

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kramer716 (Oct 25, 2017 - 9:26 am)

I saw the same thing, but no clue what thread that was.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 25, 2017 - 9:29 am)

they pay gs11 step 1

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downwardslope (Oct 25, 2017 - 9:37 am)

That is for non-fed employees. Not a current fed employee in a 0905 series job. Typically they at least give you a step increase.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 25, 2017 - 10:23 am)

You are right. I forgot on saw on USAJOBS an ad for federal employees only for the same position

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izzymandelbaum (Oct 25, 2017 - 11:33 am)

They will work with current fed employees but will not exceed GS 11. So hypothetically, if you are a GS-12 step 4 they will offer and 11-step whatever to get you close.

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oddis500 (Oct 25, 2017 - 8:22 pm)

That's a shame I would have been interested in applying. That's going to lower interest a ton.

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dcm1983 (Oct 25, 2017 - 8:37 pm)

The job is basically this:

(1) Figure out what the applicable Veterans law is. It varies a lot from case to case, and it can be very very complicated at times.
(2) Review 20,000-80,000 pages of evidence.
(3) Write a flawless 5-10 page remand order or 10-30 page decision that is 100% legally accurate and free of any typos.
(4) Repeat.

You have 12 hours to complete a case including reviewing 20,000-80,000 pages of evidence.

If you can't produce a flawless decision or remand order in that time, then you stay late or work on the weekends until you can produce 3.25 cases on average per week.

If the computer system is down or you have to attend mandatory meetings or trainings, that time will most likely not count towards your quota. For example, if the computer system is down on Monday, you are not allowed to go home, but you are allowed to come in on Saturday in order to make up for the fact that the computer system did not work on Monday.

If you can reduce your reading of 20,000-80,000 pages of evidence down to 2-4 hours, then the job is super easy and you will be "high producer" and earn bonuses. You'll be promoted to GS-14 rapidly and maybe become a judge some day.

So, that's the job. If it sounds like you would do well in it, apply.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 25, 2017 - 8:46 pm)

Also keep in mind, if there's a snow day, you are expected to meet your quota and if you go on vacation, you are still expected to meet your quota.

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dcm1983 (Oct 25, 2017 - 8:48 pm)

They actually prorate for leave now. So, they will reduce the quota by snow days and leave. However, after they did that, they increased the base quota by 35%.

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mxab54 (Oct 25, 2017 - 11:06 pm)

Word of advice - if you accept this job, make sure you sign up for health insurance and get the high option plan. After a few months on the job, you will probably start developing serious health issues.

Be sure that your health insurance plan covers mental health care (as you will probably go crazy), cardiovascular rehabilitation (status post myocardial infarction secondary to BVA misery), neurological rehabilitation (status post cerebrovascular accident secondary to BVA nightmare), erectile dysfunction (to rehabilitate what remains of your non-existent sex life), marriage counseling (as your spouse will probably accuse you of having an affair after you spend countless nights and weekends claiming to be "in the office" on unpaid overtime), irritable bowel syndrome, and more!

After a few years at BVA, you will probably qualify for SSA disability due to mental health reasons and live as a hermit for the remainder of your life.

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dopesmokeresquire (Oct 25, 2017 - 9:56 pm)

No other fed agency operates like this. Why does the VA board of appeals operate like this?

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 25, 2017 - 10:10 pm)

Doesn’t the uspto or social security have similar quotas? Keep in mind the VA us in chaos with a serious backlog of cases and a terrible reputation

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mxab54 (Oct 25, 2017 - 10:41 pm)

Both the USPTO trademark examiner and SSA attorney adviser positions have production quotas. However, I've heard from former SSA AAs at BVA that the quota at SSA is more manageable. Moreover, SSA prohibits employees from working late or working on the weekend on unpaid overtime. BVA has no such rule - in fact many BVA employees work in excess of 40 hours a week, and, even then, still fail to meet the quota.

Now, BVA is hiring 150 new attorneys. Who do you think will train all of these attorneys? The truth is, after the initial training period, you will be on your own to learn the law and write perfect decisions. As the judges are also on strict production quotas, they won't have time to train you, and, if you screw up, guess who they will be the victim of their anger? YOU, of course!

BVA stands apart from USPTO and SSA in that a lot, but not all, of the judges and managers will intentionally try to get you fired or get you to quit in order to the make themselves look good.

I've posted links above - follow these links to learn more about the miserable work environment at the Board.

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dcm1983 (Oct 25, 2017 - 10:27 pm)

Ssa quotas seem to be based on what is reasonable on a 40h week. Almost no one gets fired at ssa it seems, and they aren’t allowed to work unpaid overtime. It’s monitored strictly. Not sure about uspto but I’ve heard uspto is more reasonable overall

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downwardslope (Oct 25, 2017 - 10:51 pm)

I think people do get fired/demoted, but it’s not that common. We had a few non-attorney writers in my office who were demoted last year because they could not get up to speed; however, SSA seems to be moving away from hiring non-attorney writers and is developing other paralegal positions instead. This may be the reason. The probationary period is 2 years and I don’t think you are allowed to be graded on your productivity until your second year.

SSA has a backlog too, but usually the approach is to offer paid overtime at least on Saturdays, and sometimes on weekdays and Sundays as well. They redid the quota system so some case types are shorter and others are longer, but there is now no allowance if your computer is broken or if you have to do continuing education videos. I still think it’s overall a better system since most of the cases we do in my office tend to be the ones with the lengthened timeframe.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 26, 2017 - 9:34 am)

For anyone who works or worked there, can you tell us about possible interview questions they might ask?

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downwardslope (Oct 26, 2017 - 10:40 am)

http://www.jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=117611

I think there are some questions here in this thread.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 26, 2017 - 10:48 am)

Thanks.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 27, 2017 - 9:38 am)

I heard that this is the last large hiring they have planned, though that could change, so maybe they won't be firing most of the people, unless they change their mind again.

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kramer716 (Oct 27, 2017 - 9:41 am)

Your first statement is key, "Last large hiring they have planned." They don't want to hire more, but if they run people out in droves then they will be forced to do another round. If they figure out that what they are proposing isn't working and change, then maybe the situation stabilizes and another round of massive hiring won't be needed. This is 100% an opinion from an outsider, but just my observations.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 27, 2017 - 10:30 am)

Even though it might be harder to get jobs with them later, I think it would be better to risk that to try for a time when there's more job security and there's not such a crisis. I don't think getting fired from that job will help one's chances of starting a legal career. Maybe I'm wrong, I just see it being very risky if you get the job and take it. But if it's 8 months of employment or being homeless, then yes, I can understand why one would take it.

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lydia (Oct 27, 2017 - 10:10 am)

Who knows. If the actually retained all of the attorneys they hired and trained, they would easily make the goal for their fiscal year if the quota was a much lower number to the point where attorneys don't have panic attacks and cry at work. They seem to have set the quota to meet their goal with the following assumptions (1) everyone will somehow use 8 weeks of leave, (2) 20% or more of the attorneys may be fired, quit, or otherwise be unable to meet the quota.

It seems that the new quota for the judges does not match the new quota output from the attorneys. Therefore, if the management honestly believed that all of the attorneys were reasonably able to hit this new number, we would end up with a huge backlog of unsigned cases. In general, it appears the whole thing is in very bad faith, which is consistent with history.

So, they could do mass firings if the most attorneys hit the new numbers, but they may not. If around 70-80% of the attorneys hit the new quota, then the rest are disposable.

What is clear though is if you fall behind for a single week you (1) will not be promoted if you're being evaluated for a promotion during that week and (2) will not be eligible for paid overtime on the weekends for doing extra cases if you are behind that week.

I think the most upsetting thing for the attorneys is the sense that they are being lied to and manipulated on a daily basis. I think this system worked better for management when the organization was half the size.

Watch out when you find yourself loaded with hundreds of extremely angry attorneys who know things you wouldn't want the public to know.

Closing in on GS-14 now, and contemplating thinking about going back to another job at GS-11.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 27, 2017 - 10:19 am)

I thought there was no paid OT?

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lydia (Oct 27, 2017 - 10:32 am)

There is paid OT, but it is for doing cases in ADDITION to the cases your are responsible for each week. Here is an example of what may be a week for me.

Monday: Work 8:30-6:30 (10 hours) on Case #1.
Tuesday: Work 8:30-5:30 (9 hours) on Case #1
Wednesday: Work 8:30- 6:30 (10 hours) Complete case #1, Start case #2.
Thursday: Work 8:00 - 7:00 (11 hours) Complete case #2, Start case #3
Friday: Work 8:30 - 6:00 (10.5 hours) Complete case #3

In this situation, I worked the 40 hours I was supposed to work and an ADDITIONAL 10.5 hours UNPAID overtime. NOTE, I still only completed 3 cases. I need to complete 3.25 per week. Therefore, I am behind and am NOT eligible for unpaid overtime. In order to be eligible, I have to come in on Saturday and work from 8:00-5:00 or longer to finish the 4th case UNPAID.

So, to complete 4 cases and be eligible for PAID overtime, I had to work about 60 hours including 20 hours of UNPAID overtime. In order to get paid for more I have work a 5th case.

In Summary, this is the new normal:

First 40 hours (PAID)
Next 10-25 hours (UNPAID, necessary to avoid being fired)
Next 10-25 hours (PAID at a flat rate, assuming you are able to complete a case in that time)

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kramer716 (Oct 27, 2017 - 10:39 am)

Since you are closing in on GS-14 I assume you have been there for a while. Did it just get bad since January, or has the BVA always been a bit nasty with their policies?

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lydia (Oct 27, 2017 - 10:49 am)

This may be the worst it has ever been. It got dramatically better last year because we got a new Executive in Charge. She dramatically improved morale by eliminating the quota briefly. Unfortunately, they did not have time to tweak the new system to a point where attorneys were productive enough. Productivity dropped dramatically. She brought back the quota but decided to prorate it for leave. The quota she implemented was still stressful and tough for a lot of attorneys, but it was doable for most people with about 5-10 hours unpaid.


The new quota is not going to be attainable for people with children and other responsibilities who can't work 20+ additional hours unpaid every week. Based on what happened last fiscal year, they may just fire those people.

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kramer716 (Oct 27, 2017 - 10:55 am)

Appreciate the information. I applied, so we will see what happened. At this point i have no kids so I can do the OT, but I completely understand where you are coming from.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 27, 2017 - 11:01 am)

But are you prepared to be working 10-20 hours of unpaid OT just to keep your job for the next several years or rest of your career? Sounds like the best case scenario is to just work your butt off to make quota for a couple years and try your best to get some other government job with the preference you get, even if that means a GS 9 or 11 job, to something that has job security and not as much stress. That's the only way I could convince myself of doing this. My usual thing is, is when I apply for a job, I'm thinking " this is the job I will hopefully be working for the rest of my life". But that sounds like a living hell at the BVA.

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kramer716 (Oct 27, 2017 - 1:04 pm)

I was doing that in my previous position so nothing new. Plus, I will waive into the DC bar while I am working for the VA and try to go over to the DC AG as a fallback.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 27, 2017 - 10:59 am)

I figured that me being single/no kids would be an advantage, but I could see lawsuits coming if they fire married people, people with lives, or people with kids.. That's got to be pretty depressing, given most people thing government workers sit around doing nothing for 40 hours a week, you are working 10-15 hours of unpaid OT a week in a highly stressed job.

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threedham (Oct 27, 2017 - 11:21 am)

As a new attorney at the Board, I can echo this sentiment. The theory among the new hires is that maybe half of us won't be able to keep up with the new production standards and we'll be fired off over the course of our first six months on production. The new 150 they're on-boarding in the spring are going to be there to offset the attrition among the new attorneys.

Also FWIW, a good chunk of people who started in the summer are already looking for new jobs. The sense is that the BVA is simply too unstable at the time to warrant staying.

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aspiringlawyer (Oct 27, 2017 - 2:04 pm)

How long did it take you to get to GS-13?

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 28, 2017 - 9:38 am)

Anyone who works there like to tell us about the firing that the union announced?

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jdmaryland (Oct 28, 2017 - 10:03 am)

Where did you hear that?

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 28, 2017 - 10:06 am)

A source

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 29, 2017 - 6:29 pm)

I guess no body is talking. But I heard someone who was there multi decades, I believe 30 years, has been fired.

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somefed (Oct 28, 2017 - 9:12 pm)

There is no standardized measure of quality. If you get placed with a very picky judge, you could receive unsatisfactory ratings putting you on the track to be removed, whereas your co-worker with the less particular judge receives high ratings. The quality of your work is determined by one person's opinion, and you are at the whims of that person.

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oddis500 (Oct 28, 2017 - 10:37 pm)

The pay scale is keeping me from applying, but these horror stories might have kept me from it even if they were starting at a higher rate.

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downwardslope (Oct 28, 2017 - 11:18 pm)

They might have less turnover if they started at something other than 11 though. People at HHS and SSA, for example, might be better equipped to be able to pick up the job quickly and would have some interest since it goes to GS-14 while HHS and SSA top out at 12 unless you apply competitively for 13. However, if you’re applying because you’ve applied a few times for a GS-13 at HHS or SSA and haven’t gotten anywhere, you’re probably going to be a few steps into GS-12 and it’s not going to be worthwhile to go back down to an 11 and have to give up 3-4 days of telecommute for a year in a high COL city.

With the ridiculously high turnover, how can anyone get enough knowledge to do the job and do it well? A person who sticks around for 5 years and can make GS-14 is going to be a lot faster than a GS-11 who has been there for 4 months. There is no doubt. I remember in January they were hiring 160 and now they’re hiring another 150, so basically the same amount of people who were hired have left or have been fired. That is insane.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 29, 2017 - 3:33 pm)

What happens to the careers and potential of people who say worked at SSA for a while, doing their equivalent, and you take this job, hoping for the higher GS levels, and you get fired for not meeting quota? Doesn't that destroy your chances getting other similar federal jobs? you'd have to explain that you couldn't make quota, and if you are applying for other jobs that have quotas, you are in trouble, aren't you?

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somefed (Oct 29, 2017 - 3:38 pm)

Unfortunately, what happens in that case is that you have to report on your applications that you were terminated from a federal job, thus limiting your chance for another federal job. If you have a safe gig with SSA and you can make the quota, it is probably best to stay there.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 29, 2017 - 3:40 pm)

So that would basically rule out any contract specialist chance I might in theory if I were to get this job and not make quota. Seems to risky to even apply to something like this.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 9:41 am)

If you do that can you at least go up in steps? After a while when you max out you'll only get COLA

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 9:47 am)

@SSA? It takes something like 18 years to get to step 10 in a grade if you start at step 1. You can still apply for details/term gs-13s or the ALJ register during that time. There is also legit overtime at SSA pretty much every week.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 9:49 am)

DO they do entry level hiring? I’ve never seen a ssa job advertised on opm for where I live

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 10:07 am)

In DC? They hired like 100+ last year I think. They were hiring this year as well. However, they really don’t seem to want entry level anymore. Most people in my training group had at least 3 years experience. There were some fairly new people who graduated last year, though.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 10:12 am)

Three years of experience doing those sort of things for another agency, or three years of any kind of experience?

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 10:23 am)

I don't remember the exact amount of experience required, but I think it was just general attorney experience. I interviewed with them last year, and I had zero experience that was related to what they do in the office, but I have five years' experience handling child support cases. If they required specialized experience, then I don't think they would have wasted their time talking to me. Having said that I didn't get the job, so I could be wrong, but it would seem to be a waste of resources to interview me if I didn't meet the minimum qualifications.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 10:30 am)

Well because there are so many more lawyers than there are jobs for, they can afford to be selective, and interview a lot more people than they have spots for. that's just life for us. However sometimes they do make mistakes. Years and years ago, I had an interview with the Department of Commerce, in the general counsel's office, and one of the interviewers asked me what kind of contracts I worked on (as I listed contract attorney), and I had to explain what I did, and you could see the look of disgust on his face. Naturally I didn't get an offer. However they did call me for another interview, but I was in asia at the time, and couldn't make it.

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 10:35 am)

Most people have no related experience. They hire people with background in criminal law, ID, PI, etc. They do have some people who worked representing people in SSA cases, but that is a small minority.

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 10:40 am)

If there was one opening or a handful, then I think your point would be stronger. Having said that, the VA is hiring 150 people, and it sounds like they are hiring 150 people because the job is hell and attorneys are leaving in droves. They may need warm bodies, so I think you and I have a decent shot. Is it a great job? No, but it gets your foot in the door. I wouldn't take the job if you had other options, but if you don't, I think you can do worse then this position.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 12:24 pm)

Again, if you get fired, which the odds are high of, you basically prevent yourself from getting federal employment as you have to put down you've been fired from a federal job. I'd prefer to wait until they figure things out there, even if it means they are hiring fewer and it reduces my chances. I view this job as overral hurting my chances because it would, if I got fired, likely prevent me from getting an 1102 job with the feds or any other kind of job. That's assuming they'd even take me, which they didn't even give an interview to me for last time, rejected me flag out as unqualified, when they gave me an offer in 2006.

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 12:42 pm)

FWIW, I know plenty of people who were fired from state jobs and they still have state jobs. If you work for ultra political agencies, this agencies have reputations as being bad. You might be out for a bit, but you could come back. Most people who work for the VA and know it is going horribly try to find something or quit before they get fired. It is not that hard to do. If they are firing people before a year, they do not even have a real performance evaluation yet.

ETA I know more than one person who has moved fed jobs within 6 months because the jobs were really that bad. It is not that much of a problem.

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 1:21 pm)

You have been waiting to get a non-doc review job for how long? You admit that they probably won't take you, and I won't say that to you. I think you have a decent shot at this one. I think your odds are long when there is only one opening or a handful, but you have a fair shot with this one. I would say you will be low-risk. Why do I say that? You have a grace period while they "train" you. Go in and see if you can do the freaking job. You may be good at it for all we know. If it gets to the end of your training period and you know there is no shot that you can do this then go back to doc review, but take the chance now. I think we both agree that there isn't much demand for your services by the Feds, and I am not knocking you because there isn't much demand for my services by the Feds. You have to take the opportunities when you can, and I don't see waiting giving you any benefit. Now if you are working right now, then stick with your current job, but if you are unemployed then you aren't making yourself more employable by staying unemployed.

Having said all that, call the SBA and talk to them if you don't want to do the VA position.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 1:37 pm)

Are you applying for the VA or going to take the SBA job? I have a doc review gig starting soon that they claim is long term.

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 1:43 pm)

I am applying for both. I think I have a better shot at the SBA job, but I will be pursuing both

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 1:49 pm)

Curious, would you take a job at a federal agency, but not to exceed 2 years, with a possibility it could get extended, paying GS9 maybe GS 11, doing doc review and doc review management for that agency?

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 1:59 pm)

At this point, Yep

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:02 pm)

I got called for an interview for this. I can't bring myself to even call them to schedule and interview because I despise document review so much. TO do it for so much less money than what i used to, with much more responsibility, and then having to explain in an interview I got canned because they didn't want to promote me into the position you are basically hiring me for.. I can't face it. I spoke to my shrink about this on monday..

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:05 pm)

What's the job title? I will apply

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:07 pm)

It closed. it was at the IRS, some "general attorney" position. Doc review, some doc review management stuff, redacting. I'm not 100% sure it's not a scam as they called and left a message that I could barely make out, they haven't emailed. I googled the phone number and some say it's a scam, other say it's is the IRS general counsel number.

I'm really kicking myself over this. Passing up a chance for a job, but it's document review, and I'd be SO miserable at the IRS given how many tax courses I've taken in law school, knowing how underemployed I am. I'd rather do agency doc review and have a chance for OT, so I can get the HELL out of doing document review. But that's stupid too. God I can't stand my life right now.

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:10 pm)

Just call! Seriously. What is wrong with you. This is why everyone thinks you are a troll. You won’t take a job to stay in doc review but then a fed job opens up and you still won’t take it because it is doc review?

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:10 pm)

Here was the description:

esponsibilities
The following are the duties of this position at the GS-11. If you are selected at the GS-9 level, you will have the opportunity to learn to perform all these duties, and will receive training to help you grow in this position.



Serves as a general attorney with primary responsibility of reviewing, redacting, preparing and producing legal and electronic discovery (e-discovery) responses in litigation, FOIA, Congressional and other requests and providing litigation support services to field offices.
Conducts document review of both electronically stored information (ESI) and/or paper material in response to e-discovery and related discovery request using Symantec, Clearwell, Adobe Pro, or other e-discovery document review platforms.
Conducts appropriate level of legal review of ESI and paper materials determining relevance of documents, the correct application of legal privileges, IRC section 6103 and 6110, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions, U.S. Tax Court Rules, Federal Rules of Evidence, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and other procedural provisions.
Drafts legal documents required in connection with e-discovery and electronic litigation support such as declarations, memoranda, motions and other documents.
Researches case law related to electronic discovery, evidence production, submission of evidence at trial, and privileges.
Conducts informal preservation management.
Maintains case production schedule by coordinating with field attorneys, Senior Level Counsel, Paralegals and Technology Advisors.
Develops and oversees application of case review requirements by review attorneys and Technology Advisors.
Ensures compliance with production schedules on e-Discovery and where doing so is not possible, recommends scheduling alternatives.
Coordinates with Senior Level Counsel, Paralegals, and Technology Advisors to develop case strategy as appropriate.
Organizes and maintains accurate record of assigned e-discovery and related discovery requests, including keeping detailed case notes, using discovery plans, using spreadsheets, and entering case information into appropriate databases.
Analyzes the facts, identifies relevant issues and applies e-discovery case law in advising the principal Counsel attorney on the appropriate scope of e-discovery request with regard to cases in litigation.

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:14 pm)

A friend of mine is doing that type of work for an agency in DC. She loves it. Don't know if it's term-limited but she loves it. Hours are fine. I don't see the downside. You can always keep looking for work and you can always do Doc review

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:16 pm)

I don't know how I could explain how I lost my job an an interview to them given what this job entails. They'll find out because they're going to do a background check.

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:27 pm)

So tell us what happened and I am sure someone can give you a good spin answer.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:35 pm)

I can’t say on here

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:36 pm)

If you wanna email me at that throwaway email I can tell aspects but not all.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 3:31 pm)

WEll I scheduled the interview. Gonna be a big mistake. I can’t tell them the reason I lost my job without eliminating my chance. Even not wanting this job makes me no less nervous. I’ll take Xanax and that won’t help. God will I get wasted Friday night

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 3:58 pm)

Just spin it and congratulations on getting the interview. You can also call the SBA to get a back-up plan

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 4:15 pm)

I don't see how I can spin it given there's going to be an SF85 form if I get an offer. If tell them what happened, they won't consider me, if I defend myself from the what happened story, then I'll really really not get considered.

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 4:26 pm)

Typically an employer isn’t going to reveal why a person was let go for liability reasons unless they had excessive absences or something like that.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 4:27 pm)

This would involve a background check, they will contact my former employer. This isn't just a reference check.

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kramer716 (Oct 31, 2017 - 4:29 pm)

Alright. Just treat it as a practice interview then. You have nothing to lose.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 4:32 pm)

That's what I'm trying to do, but it's not helping... I get so anxious over stuff like this. I literally don't want the job, because I want out of doc review, and yet I still get nervous to the verge of vomiting for something I shouldn't even care about. And the self esteem blow that I can't even get a doc review job that pays about 55% of what I used to make. God my life sucks.

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wolfman (Oct 31, 2017 - 4:46 pm)

You were laid off along with a bunch of other people due to project/projects ending, and them not having any more work for you to do. And you didn't want to be a doc review manager at an agency - you wanted to find a real federal job. That's it, and it's not even untrue. Don't be an idiot.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 4:57 pm)

That's not what happened though. I was on staff at a firm.

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 5:02 pm)

Again, they are not going to give a detailed “real” reason for liability reasons. Even during a reference check. They might say you were terminated, but will not say why.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 6:16 pm)

It's not a reference check, it's a background check. They are different things.
. They will ask these questions. The law firm may or may not answer it, but, I have a feeling they do....

As for the interview, I'm told the IRS asks a standard list of questions, but I don't know if they alter the list or it includes asking about why you are no longer at your past employer... It would be better if it doesn't come up, but still there's the SF85 issue. Depending on how in depth the background check is, they either send a letter or have an FBI agent go in and talk to them.

Here's what they say:

Background checks and security clearance
Security clearance
Public Trust - Background Investigation

It also includes finger printing, and a possible audit as well as an examination of my tax returns (no issue with any of this).

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 2:17 pm)

Plus if you start there I have seen FOIA positions up to GS-15. At my old state job, we have one entry level job and it is the foia job. That is the way to get in. You can move out of it.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 8:09 pm)

The FOIA experience is one major plus I see from this..

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 7:13 pm)

For a lot of those duties, I've never done, and I doubt anyone who has only reviewed docs has. What do I say if they ask med if I've ever insured complicant with production schedules or maintaining records other than I'm quick at learning things. Wouldn't they want someone who already can do those things? I don't at all fudge my resume, so It's pretty clear that I have done and have not done things on their list. I'd had to get GS9 for that position even if they did consider me, when I could make more doing agency doc review..

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 7:54 pm)

Because you can eventually move up to a GS-15 non-supervisory position... the holy grail of positions.

Those missing skills are not really critical. I mean it consists of calling someone like me up and then listening to me say that no, I don’t currently have the records at present because of [insert tale of woe here]. Or, you might email me and I will also give a tale of woe about where the records are. It is not really an in-depth, extreme skill. You just have to be able to call people up and know that they are probably not going to be super happy to hear from you. We did have a wonderful person doing our FOIA job (very experienced) but then the auxiliary person was horrible and he got transferred into another unit. Then we got the newbie who was pretty clueless. I mean it was probably a 9/10 on the clueless meter although she was very sweet and really did try to learn. I have a feeling that you are probably only a 4 to 5/10 on the clueless meter, which would be pretty good! I think Clueless has now moved onto another position and they have now hired Clueless2! I am pretty sure when I started in there my first projects were FOIA projects with thousands of pages. It is kind of like the Welcome to Government experience.

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notreallyalawyer (Oct 31, 2017 - 8:00 pm)

You can only get to GS 15 from this job by applying to other jobs, not from this job directly.. But I get your point..

I've literally never ever worked on anything FOIA before. Do you think I should read about the exemptions before this interview? it would be nice to learn about FOIA from this job, that would be a bit useful...

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 9:49 pm)

Right but you are not going to get a GS-15 FOIA job without a lower level one. You have to start somewhere.

You might as well learn the exemptions just be prepared. There aren’t that many, so it isn’t like there would be that time consuming to learn. With FOIA it is often not as much about those but then looking at other statutes and figuring out whether those apply. Unfortunately I am clueless on anything related to the IRS, so I can’t help you there.

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downwardslope (Oct 31, 2017 - 1:59 pm)

Most SSA jobs start out NTE 2 years. Look. You have to take a risk to get in. How is this worse than doc review? You can always go back to doc review.

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oddis500 (Oct 31, 2017 - 11:38 pm)

I really wish they would ban this idiot.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Nov 1, 2017 - 3:25 pm)

thanks for posting. from what i am hearing, a large number of SSA employees will be applying to this vacancy

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kramer716 (Nov 1, 2017 - 3:51 pm)

That surprises me. It would seem that SSA trumps the VA, but I guess the grass is greener on the other side.

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brownbear (Nov 1, 2017 - 4:17 pm)

I’m at SSA. I won’t be applying and this whole conversation definitely played into that decision.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 1, 2017 - 4:20 pm)

Just so you know, my contact there, still after telling me how horrible it is, still suggest I should apply. However if you've got something good, even though it is limited to GS12, probably isn't worth the risk. I've got less to lose, though I'm highly doubtful I'm going to apply still. I'd rather wait for better times there, even if my odds go down.. who knows by then I will be in school in a radiography technician program..

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govlaw (Nov 1, 2017 - 4:21 pm)

Same

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downwardslope (Nov 1, 2017 - 4:25 pm)

I am not sure why you would apply if you are at SSA. I know a few long-term details were posted so it is not like there are no options. At least you will not be fired from those and can go back to gs-12. Heck, if you really are stuck, the ALJ process would have been a better bet for people with any experience before SSA.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Nov 1, 2017 - 4:40 pm)

the SSA gigs are not permanent whereas VA is (plus VA career ladders to a 14

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brownbear (Nov 1, 2017 - 4:50 pm)

But the SSA gigs become permanent for most people and the VA has fired people during there probationary period so that point alone doesn’t make it any more secure. The ladder to 14 is hard to beat though.

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downwardslope (Nov 1, 2017 - 4:56 pm)

All VA positions are at will now and it is very easy to fire people even out of probation. I just don’t see the appeal.

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somefed (Nov 1, 2017 - 6:25 pm)

It is true that it is much easier to fire people now under the Accountability Act. A number of people were let go at the end of the fiscal year. A lot of them were nice people and they probably had high hopes for their Board career. You can control how many cases you write,but you cannot control if your judge will like your work. Some judges are more involved than others with training new people. If you get a tough judge, it could be hard to survive the 2 year probationary period.

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threedham (Nov 2, 2017 - 8:28 am)

Another thing is that with the high turnover of the past year, a great number of attorneys here are new-ish. I don't know exact numbers, but I'd suspect a majority of attorneys now are at the GS-11/12 level. With the new quota, we've asked management how cases are going to be assigned. They told us that judges will continue to assign more complex cases (which take longer to write) to more senior attorneys.

However, because there's simply more of us new people now, a lot of complex cases are gonna get passed on to junior people. As a result, there's a lot of potential for a monster of a case to fall into your lap and mess up your week. Keep in mind, there have been attorneys fired and asked to resign for falling 3-4 cases behind pace. That's easy to do.

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trophy2017 (Nov 2, 2017 - 3:57 pm)

It looks like they changed the close date to November 3rd. Im guessing they have an overflow of applications.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 2, 2017 - 4:03 pm)

I think it was always November 3rd, at least whenever I looked at it. I decided to apply.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 2, 2017 - 5:45 pm)

Anyone else apply recently and it's saying "unavailable" on usajobs for quite some time? I completed my applications hours ago. It's never taken this long, and it's not saying incomplete, but unavailable. normally when it takes a while for docs to upload it say "incomplete"

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dharamsala (Nov 2, 2017 - 4:29 pm)

Since you're only dealing with federal law, can you be barred only in state A and work for the VA in state B?

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kramer716 (Nov 2, 2017 - 4:52 pm)

Yes, that isn't an issue.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 2, 2017 - 5:14 pm)

Heck, in my dad's office at a Department, there was a go who wasn't barred, that the job required him to be barred, and he had the job years and constantly failed the bar exam, then stopped even trying, and he got to keep his job.

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threedham (Nov 3, 2017 - 8:49 am)

Yes. Most people here are Maryland and/or Virginia lawyers, but as long as you have an active law license somewhere in the U.S., you're good to go.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 3, 2017 - 9:08 am)

Has anyone applied to this job recently and their application status on usajobs says unavailable? I submitted and got a confirmation email that it was submitted, but now 12+ hours on, my status still says unavailable.

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trophy2017 (Nov 3, 2017 - 9:38 am)

Go in and select "update" application and just click through the pages and re-submit. My status now says "Received".

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 3, 2017 - 9:44 am)

I've done that and have now submitted it twice. and it still says that. i'm worried a third submission will just anger them.

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trophy2017 (Nov 3, 2017 - 9:55 am)

Make sure you attached every document you uploaded from usajobs, if not it will not go through.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 3, 2017 - 10:01 am)

THey were attached though I put two docs in one category could that be the problem ? It’s never not worked before

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 3, 2017 - 10:06 am)

Thanks. I removed the double entry and it worked.

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kemken (Nov 7, 2017 - 2:12 pm)

I think this may be worth applying to if you have experience. I've won multiple cases before the CAVC and applied for this job. Now I'm understanding why the Board makes such simple errors that make for an easy remand.

However, I think the production requirement might be doable for someone who knows what to look for and how the appellate process works, but that may be a naive assumption. Anyway, I'll see how it goes and will keep you guys posted.

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kramer716 (Nov 8, 2017 - 7:47 pm)

I know it's the job from hell, but it's a full-time from hell. If anyone hears anything then please keep us in the loop.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 8, 2017 - 9:35 pm)

I have a feeling they are going to at least to try to do most of their hiring from inside of the government. That's why they had that government employees only job announcement on USAJOBS..

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oddis500 (Nov 8, 2017 - 9:37 pm)

I'll be pulling for you Kramer! You definitely deserve a shot.

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somefed (Nov 9, 2017 - 5:32 pm)

After seeing someone get fired this week, it is hard to be optimistic. You are just a number. It is depressing and demoralizing. Best of luck to anyone who wants to apply because you will need it.

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kramer716 (Nov 9, 2017 - 6:15 pm)

No question. If I get picked up for that position, then I will take the opportunity to network and ideally find an opening with the DC Attorney General.

If you don't mind me asking, how long was the person there that was fired?

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somefed (Nov 9, 2017 - 7:46 pm)

I do not know the exact time, but it was under the two year probation period.

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kramer716 (Nov 9, 2017 - 7:51 pm)

Thank you for the information. Not sure if the person was your friend or not, but they have my sympathies. If you are friends with this person, and you know they can handle living on the other side of the world, then I might be able to help them find a new job. I can't promise anything, but former employer always seems to be hiring.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Nov 9, 2017 - 10:01 pm)

how many folks are you aware of that have been let go at VA?

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somefed (Nov 10, 2017 - 7:59 am)

I know of about 5 people who were let go under the 2-year probationary mark.

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sendlawyers (Nov 21, 2017 - 11:47 am)

About the JOA that closed 11/03/17 that was open to the public for 130+ slots: heard there were 450+ applicants and 10 biz day deadline on certificate of eligibles not met due to volume of applicants.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 21, 2017 - 11:57 am)

Hey they started referring or rejecting people yet? I haven't gotten any news either way.

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kramer716 (Nov 21, 2017 - 1:23 pm)

Sounds about right. I haven't heard anything about being referred or being rejected.

I interviewed for this the last go round, and to give you some estimation of a timeline. I received an email from their main administrative assistant at the middle of November, not sure the exact date but around Nov. 17th, and they just gave me an interview date and time. I wasn't asked, they just said your interview is Dec. 15th at 9:30. So you will get a few weeks' notice I would assume. THey offered phone interviews, but I thought a face-to-face interview would be better, it wasn't. If I am referred this time around I am going to try and swing for a phone interview.

On the plus side, assuming the numbers are correct, let's 130/450=29% chance of success. Could be worse.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 21, 2017 - 1:24 pm)

What questions did they ask you ? I applied for this job many years ago and got an offer but declined it, then the last time I applied I didn't even get referred.

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kramer716 (Nov 21, 2017 - 1:55 pm)

Everything was related to writing. What was your favorite thing to write? How much did you write in your previous position? Things along those lines.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 21, 2017 - 2:14 pm)

I don't recall that, or anything from my last interview with them.. But if they asked that of me, I'd be scredwe because you do virtually no writing doing document review... But I know someone who was doing doc review who got hired with the BVA, so it can be done. Maybe just not me.

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blackholelaw (Nov 21, 2017 - 2:54 pm)

If you had an offer and turned it down, why have you taken up so much real estate on this board complaining about how you can't escape from doc review?

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 21, 2017 - 3:00 pm)

Well, that was over a decade ago, when I didn't have a decade plus of doc review experience... And if I had taken that job and gotten fired in 8 months like many people do, I would have been right back into doc review anyways.

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anonattempt (Nov 22, 2017 - 9:01 am)

Notreallyalawyer, you are pretty much the only person in your way.

Glad to hear you are seeing a therapist though.

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kramer716 (Nov 29, 2017 - 3:40 pm)

I sent an email to the hiring contact on the VA job listing, and I received a reply. First, an email said that the status was "awaiting certification." They said I would receive a response when the hiring manager was finished reviewing the applications.

A half-hour later I received an email notifying me that they found me qualified for the position.

Five minutes after that I received an email referring me to the hiring manager.

It seems they are moving on this now. I will take credit for getting them going because of my email; I kid I kid. If you applied, then you should be receiving a status update soon.

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inho2solo (Nov 29, 2017 - 3:42 pm)

Good, and good luck to you in moving forward.

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kramer716 (Nov 29, 2017 - 3:53 pm)

Appreciate it and good luck to you as well.

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notthedroidyo (Nov 29, 2017 - 3:56 pm)

haha Thanks Kramer! I just got the same two emails as well.

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kramer716 (Nov 29, 2017 - 3:59 pm)

Good luck.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Nov 29, 2017 - 6:14 pm)

yep-got the referral letter today as well. hopefully we hear more soon

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kramer716 (Nov 29, 2017 - 6:15 pm)

Good luck. Just based on last time I would say in a couple of weeks.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Nov 29, 2017 - 6:18 pm)

that would put it right around x-mas. Wonder if they will try to move quicker before the holidays (or wait until after the holidays)

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 29, 2017 - 6:30 pm)

Same here

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kemken (Nov 29, 2017 - 9:49 pm)

Congratulations to everyone who was referred. I was referred as well. I'll make sure to keep you guys posted.

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kramer716 (Nov 29, 2017 - 11:17 pm)

Congratulations to you all. If anyone who was picked up in the spring gives you any information on here, then I would put more weight on what they say because they were hired by the new administration.

I was interviewed in December of last year. I believe they started interviewing right after Thanksgiving and went almost up until Christmas. The way they seemed to process people was by the date they were interviewed. I was interviewed I think Dec. 15th, may not be right but around there. They got to December 12th before Trump instituted the hiring freeze, and as far as I know, they stopped speaking with people that were interviewed around that time. They got to Dec. 12th in January.

Anyway, just wanted to give you some idea of the hiring process that I went through, but as I said it may be completely different with President Trump's people in charge. Good luck all.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 2, 2017 - 11:25 am)

I heard there were more firings recently

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kramer716 (Dec 2, 2017 - 1:46 pm)

Wouldn't be a surprise.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 2, 2017 - 3:23 pm)

Where does SSA even hire? I haven’t seen a single anouncrment for the DC area

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startupesq (Dec 2, 2017 - 6:13 pm)

At the local law schools. This summer they were on USAJobs, but they go away quickly because of the number of applicants. When I worked there they sent around emails for us to forward to anyone we knew that was interested. If you know anyone there, you might want to keep in touch with them.

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kramer716 (Dec 2, 2017 - 6:27 pm)

The only jobs I have found were on USAJOBS, but I have heard from a few people on here that the law schools look for people. Admittedly I have never seen it from mine, but I have heard it from other people on here.

You may want to CALL, not email, CALL your law school and ask about Social security jobs. Have you seen them advertised? Can I be put on a list to receive openings? etc.

Also, this is related to the SBA job in Buffalo. Did you ever get a call? If you didn't it is 100% not you. Maybe you were the one mentioned it, but if not I think they did hire locals, so you probably would have had an uphill battle. WIth that being said if you still want the job you may want to call and say you will relocate. I am going to be staying in a relatively cheap apartment about a mile from the office. Place is dinky, but will serve it's purpose.

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burneremail (Dec 2, 2017 - 2:15 pm)

At agencies that hire 80+ folks at a time, of course there will be mass firings. They tend to do things in waves.

The SSA, VA and USPTO do this a lot. Frankly, it’d be shocking if they didn’t do mass firings. The key at places like the VA is to learn how to work efficiently, save “easy cases” in case you need to make your quota. I also know some folks at the VA have giant spreadsheets of commonly used language that can be copied and pasted to match certain issues/conditions. You’ll need to put together one yourself or become friends with someone who has one and would be willing to share. It’s just like any other job, learning how to do it helps you keep it.

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john09 (Dec 2, 2017 - 2:37 pm)

As someone who has worked as SSA, I know a lot about the agency. SSA does not fire a lot of people. In fact, very few people are non-retained during the probationary period or actually fired thereafter.

Yes, SSA has a high turnover rate, but this is due to voluntary attrition. Many people at SSA transfer to VA because of the higher promotion potential. They don't realize, however, that the grass may not be greener on the other side. The production quota at SSA is very reasonable and attainable in a 40 hr workweek. It appears that many VA attorneys work in excess of 40 hrs to meet their quota. Even then, many VA attorneys get non-retained or fired.

If you don't meet the quota at SSA, your supervisor will put you on a performance improvement plan for 90 days before firing you. At VA, you are not entitled to a PIP.

Also, keep in mind that the most time consuming part of a disability claim is reviewing the evidence, not writing the decision. Therefore, while you can copy and paste some parts of the decision, it won't help you when you have a case file with thousands of pages to review.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 2, 2017 - 3:21 pm)

I hear some SSa offices are worse than others

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startupesq (Dec 2, 2017 - 6:11 pm)

Worked at SSA over three years and your experience comes down to your GS (especially at the NCACs). I saw people get several extensions past the initial probationary period and then get dropped without a 90 day performance improvement plan. Best case scenario is you get a cool GS and it smooth sailing. Otherwise, your life could be h*ll and you could be railroaded out since they are responsible for your case load...meaning, you get awful cases that take more time and your production tanks. Despite that, the job isn't complicated or incredibly difficult and there is usually more than enough OT available. I would recommend it to anyone seeking some semblance of stability, decent benefits, and good workplace/life balance.

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sunset7 (Dec 20, 2017 - 10:45 pm)

As someone who doesn’t actually work at the Board, your input is irrelevant. The job at the Board and the job at SSA are not comparable. At the Board, you are expected to analyze a complete file, nobody screens them first, and make a legal determination based on relevant law. Your judge doesn’t tell you what to do, they rely on their attorneys to make the decision. Law school should have trained you for this, even my bad law school prepared me...

If you wanted to spend your time copying and pasting someone else’s work, why did you go to law school? Why are you trying to leave doc review? Why aren’t you a legal assistant?

Working at the Board has been (so far) challenging, interesting and fun! There is a reason this job has the promotion ladder it does. You are expected to be a lawyer and make the hard decisions. It isn’t easy, but it is 100% doable.

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 11:04 pm)

Umm... most legal work does not involve reinventing the wheel - that's why lawyers use templates. As you know, BVA encourages attorneys to use Research Tools to copy and paste material from prior decisions. Remember, you aren't doing any innovative legal scholarship, there's no shame is copying and pasting someone's else's work. Lawyers do it all the time.

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sunset7 (Dec 20, 2017 - 11:53 pm)

Hahahahaha! I find all of your posts hilarious, john09. Of course the Board doesn’t want you to reinvent the wheel, but the Board also has a VERY active court that issues new precedent on a very frequent basis. There are also final rules, GC Opinions, and non-precedential opinions that Board attorneys need to analyze on a daily basis.

I forget, as an SSA attorney, you are expected to know what exactly? Oh, that’s right, nothing about applying law or apparently writing in complete sentences. Maybe that is why the Board has implemented a writing test as part of the interview. This rumored writing test makes me think I am super lucky to have gotten in at the Board when I did!

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 2, 2017 - 3:30 pm)

Since they have such a backlog why don’t they just hire more people so the quotas are manageable then lay people off once they don’t need so many? If you get fired for not making quota you will likely not be able to get federal employment again from what I hear

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threedham (Dec 4, 2017 - 11:31 am)

Because they can. BVA management has bet on a strategy where they accept a large amount of attrition in the hopes that the survivors are all incredibly high-producing writers.

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whynot (Dec 6, 2017 - 4:53 pm)

I work at the Board as a judge. Have been here a long time including doing the attorney/writing job. I'm happy to try to answer any questions anyone has. I will definitely say the attrition is not as high as some say. In the past year we hired about 300 attorneys and the attrition rate from that group was less than 10%.

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kramer716 (Dec 6, 2017 - 4:56 pm)

It's Deja vu all over again. You answered my questions during the last round of hiring, but I am curious if you know when they will start interviewing people for this round. We received the referral emails last week, so hopefully the process gets moving soon.

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legaleagle223 (Dec 6, 2017 - 7:07 pm)

thanks-any thoughts on how long before interviews start getting setup? any clue as to roughly how many folks got referred?

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john09 (Dec 6, 2017 - 7:32 pm)

@ whynot

When you say attrition, do you mean voluntary attrition or involuntary attrition? I've discussed attrition at the Board with many current Board attorneys. From my conversations, I know that most attorneys at the Board leave "voluntarily" because they supervisors asked them to leave or to escape the toxic climate at the Board. Most of the people who left "voluntarily" are now doing doc review.

Moreover, since attorneys at the Board do not go on production for their first six months, a large percentage of the 300 attorneys that were hired within the past year are still not on production. I bet the attrition rate is much higher if you consider only the attorneys who were subject to production standards.

Also, what's the Board's position on the Loss of Confidence Statement that the Union submitted to Congress? Is there any merit to the Union's complaints, and if not, why did nearly 100 Board attorneys sign the statement regarding gross mismanagement at the Board?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 6, 2017 - 10:14 pm)

Especially people who have been there for decades getting fired for production .. I know of someone who started there this year that got warned he’s not meeting quota. Convinced he’s getting fired and absolutely doesn’t recommend the job

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john09 (Dec 6, 2017 - 10:49 pm)

I've contacted many current Board attorneys to learn more about their experiences. Not a single attorney recommended the job. In fact, one attorney advised me that the union at the Board filed at least two grievances regarding the amount of unpaid overtime people are forced to do to meet the unreasonable and unattainable production standards. After reading the grievances, I can see why no one I know at the Board recommends the position.

https://www.afge.org/contentassets/a91c998d3be44362a75c5c67c60852f7/grievance.pdf

https://www.afge.org/contentassets/a91c998d3be44362a75c5c67c60852f7/grievance-annual-production-quota.pdf

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whynot (Dec 7, 2017 - 8:11 pm)

Interviews have started for some and more will be scheduled over the next several weeks.

As for attrition, involuntary or voluntary is well less than 10% in the first year. There were a small handful of experienced attorneys who could not make the goals (literally like 3 out of over 300 experienced attorneys).

I am unaware of the Board's position on any Loss of Confidence Statement. Please keep in mind that I am not speaking for the Board when I post here but I did want to give a more accurate statement of the numbers. For those who like this kind of work and can do it, it's a good job. It's not for everyone of course, but what job is?

If working under a production based system is not your cup of tea, then yes it's probably not the job for you.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 7, 2017 - 8:33 pm)

I'm wondering how the math adds up if they hire 300 every year, but only have a 10% attrition. From everyone I know there, and have read elsewhere, apparently they have mass firings every 6-8 months.

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john09 (Dec 7, 2017 - 8:45 pm)

@ notreallyalawyer

I don't think it's in the Board's interest to publicize its real attrition rate. The Board needs 150 warm bodies and a high attrition rate could hurt recruitment.

If the attrition rate at the Board is less than 10 percent, why are there so many unhappy people at the Board? Why is the union filing so many grievances and seeking to recover unpaid overtime wages? Why have nearly 100 current Board attorneys lost confidence in the leadership at the Board?

I dont think whynot is telling us the
whole story.

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somefed (Dec 7, 2017 - 9:40 pm)

The attrition rate for the new hires is more than 10 percent. I personally know of 5 people who were advised to resign. If you have a secure job with another government agency, it is best to stay there, even if you top out at GS 12. I would rather be GS 12 and secure than fired or forced out by the Board.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 7, 2017 - 9:43 pm)

That's what I hope to do, I'm going to try to get an SSA job. Security is more important to me, even though I realize that's not as secure as other lawyer jobs with the feds.

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downwardslope (Dec 7, 2017 - 10:56 pm)

Security is fairly good at SSA. The issue is that most people get hired on a term basis to start, but that’s not the case for everyone. If you get hired on perm and make it out of probation, it’s a lot harder to get fired. You also have two years to meet your goals, so if you know you aren’t going to meet them in 2 years, you can find something else. It’s not like the VA where you are put on production in 6 months and then people start leaving.

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threedham (Dec 8, 2017 - 9:14 am)

I'm in one of the new classes and we've already had people voluntarily quit because they didn't see it as a sustainable or secure job. Walk around in the cube farm at any given time and you'll see people looking at job postings.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 8, 2017 - 9:24 am)

If you get firedhow badly does it impact prospects of getting federal employment again?

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threedham (Dec 8, 2017 - 10:59 am)

I mean, it's not good. Future federal employers will be able to see your SF-50, which will indicate the termination. It's why I've heard the new practice at the Board is to be told to resign if you're behind enough on production.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 8, 2017 - 11:44 am)

If you are told you will be terminated and you resign or are asked to resign it’s all the same as being fired due purposes of the declaration for federal employment form.

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sunset7 (Dec 20, 2017 - 11:57 pm)

Is that what you are doing instead of working cases and helping Veterans at 9:15 in the morning of a Friday?

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john09 (Dec 8, 2017 - 1:33 pm)

My contact at the Board informed me this morning that the union has retained a law firm - Snider & Associates - to handle the unpaid overtime wage issue at the Board. Apparently, the law firm thinks that the issue of unpaid overpaid wages is serious enough (and lucrative) that it agreed to represent the union on a contigency basis. If the union wins, BVA will have to pay a fortune in back wages, possibly millions of dollars.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 12, 2017 - 9:18 am)

They ll fire anyone who uses OT to meet quota ?

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threedham (Dec 12, 2017 - 10:48 am)

No. The union is challenging the unpaid overtime issue. Paid OT is given out here, but not a lot. Instead what they do is encourage you to use unpaid OT to achieve your production levels. They do a lot of winking and nodding about it during training, but they've started outright saying that it's more or less impossible to attain 169 cases without working outside your normal tour of duty hours. The efficiency trainer they brought in to train the new classes outright encouraged us to stay nights and weekends.

The union is challenging it, saying that at the very least, we should be getting paid for the unpaid OT because the new quota is unattainable without OT. The grievance is also challenging the new quota outright, from what I understand it's going to be on ethical grounds, i.e. we can't provide actual de novo review of these claims files at the rate we're being ordered to churn out decisions.

They might win on the OT but I don't see the quota changing. The Board is gonna fire people or expect people to quit, and they'll just keep doing big hiring waves to make up the difference.

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jdepressed (Dec 12, 2017 - 8:19 am)

any word on interview offers?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 12, 2017 - 11:21 am)

My point is if they have to pay you OT to meet quota they will likely fire you

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john09 (Dec 12, 2017 - 11:46 am)

@ notreallyalawyer

They can't fire everyone. If BVA has to compensate employees for OT, then management will likely reduce the quota to a reasonable number. It seems that management wants the best of both worlds - a high quota without the associated labor costs. Hopefully, the union's grievance will change that mindset.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 12, 2017 - 11:50 am)

Well if you get fired from that job you will likely never get a fed job agsin seems like they know they can get away with abusing people

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john09 (Dec 12, 2017 - 11:52 am)

Well, that's why the union is fighting management.

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somefed (Dec 12, 2017 - 12:05 pm)

@notreally- They do not pay you overtime to make the quota. They only pay overtime for extra cases that do not count toward the quota. People work unpaid OT because their cases are too difficult or their judges are too demanding for them to make the quota during regular hours.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 12, 2017 - 12:21 pm)

I know. I’m just saying if the union wins watch them fire everyone who uses paid OT to make quota

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threedham (Dec 12, 2017 - 1:57 pm)

If they win, then they'll just reduce the quota from 169 to something comparable to what it was last year, and just hire more attorneys to make up the difference. This is more expensive, which is why they're going with the "let's burn through a ton of attorneys" strategy.

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john09 (Dec 12, 2017 - 3:01 pm)

More like "lets burn through a ton of attorneys" and "destroy a lot of careers and lives" strategy.

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downwardslope (Dec 12, 2017 - 3:08 pm)

Eventually something has to give with that strategy. I worked for a place at the state level where they suddenly started enforcing a quota right after I left. It was not feasible to make it.

People got fired right and left and I think they had to raise base pay by around 10% to even get people to consider going there. Even now there are postings almost weekly.

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threedham (Dec 12, 2017 - 3:19 pm)

BVA does have a reputation in Washington as being a "churn and burn" type agency for lawyers. Check out LinkedIn and see how many people on there have less than a year or two at the Board. It's pretty staggering.

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somefed (Dec 12, 2017 - 1:52 pm)

You cannot use paid overtime to make the quota at all. The whole point of paid overtime at the Board is to produce extra decisions on top of the quota.

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kramer716 (Dec 12, 2017 - 9:11 pm)

Has anyone been called for an interview during this round of hiring? I know that whynot said that they started the interviews, but curious if anyone on here has been emailed/called about an interview.

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legaleagle223 (Dec 12, 2017 - 10:22 pm)

yes-I setup an interview (hr person said interviews are this week and next

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jdepressed (Dec 13, 2017 - 6:57 am)

how did you get your interview a call or a email

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legaleagle223 (Dec 13, 2017 - 7:51 am)

phone call

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kramer716 (Dec 13, 2017 - 7:01 am)

Appreciate it. A bit less depressed now that I have the temp job, but would have been cool to be contacted. Having said that if I am picking a job with the VA or with SSA I would pick the SSA.

Good luck with your interviews and I hope you all are picked up.

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jdepressed (Dec 13, 2017 - 7:17 am)

where are all the SSA posting, I never see any

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 13, 2017 - 4:42 pm)

Hearing folks at ssa have been interviewing for slots in current hiring wave at va. If they get picked up, there should be new ssa postings

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:41 am)

They just left me a voicemail in the past 5 minutes. I’m not planning on returning the call

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jdepressed (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:45 am)

id think an email would be more efficient

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:45 am)

It is an interview, not a commitment. Might as well get interview experience. What can it hurt?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:51 am)

I don’t even have access to my suit until next week. I don’t want this job unless they figure out their issues . If I get an offer my desperation will make me take the job. And that will ruin my chances for a federal career

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blackholelaw (Dec 13, 2017 - 10:32 am)

This is a new low, notreallyalawyer. You post here all the time about wanting to leave doc review, you get a call for a job that isn't doc review (not the best job, but a non-doc review job nonetheless that could be a stepping stone to the next position), and your excuse this time is "I don't have access to my suit." AMAZING.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 10:37 am)

Why would I interview for a job that would ruin my chance for a federal career?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:51 am)

Ps I don’t want to be vomiting and be near a heart attack over s job I don’t want.

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toosexyformygrade (Dec 13, 2017 - 10:59 am)

The job was posted for both existing fed employees and the public and it looks like they started interviewing existing fed employees last week.

Since folks have been comparing the SSA and VA attorney analyst positions, please note that there are quite a few people moving from SSA to the VA with each hiring wave. Getting GS13s at SSA is competitive and increasingly harder to get (this did not use to be the case). Beyond that, for GS14 choices are going into management or the adjudicator route, but appellate officer and judge positions are VERY hard to get. The possibility of noncompetitively going up to GS14 at the VA is apparently appealing to some.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 11:16 am)

How is it worth the high risk of getting fired and never being able to get a federal job again?

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 11:32 am)

It seems weird to me, especially when it seems the position is GS-11 and you would presumably have to do one year at 11, a year at 12, and then hope to get to 13. If you are at SSA in DC with time in grade, you can apply to GS-13s already outside of SSA.

There is not much mobility at SSA but you can never tell what will happen in two years.

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john09 (Dec 13, 2017 - 11:32 am)

Although SSA AA positions only go up noncompetitively to GS-12, step 10, the quality of life and job security appear to be much better at SSA. Would you rather top out as a GS-12, step 10 ($100k salary) at SSA or risk everything to get a GS-14 potential position at VA? I must admit that the GS-14 potential is quite attractive, but the risks are very high.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 11:35 am)

This is why I’m not interviewing with BVA. If you get fired you can unlikely ever even get an SSA job. My contract gig likely to last longer than I’d be at the BVA

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startupesq (Dec 13, 2017 - 1:19 pm)

Not always true. That's dependent on what your SF-50 says when you are let go. While it may be the case if you work as an AA at one of the SSA hearing offices, if you are hired as an AA at an NCAC (pretty much the warehouse of writers) you will be hired on a two-year term basis. At the end of your term, you can be made permanent or they will let your term expire. When I worked there, some folks received extensions of their terms and were still never hired due to production. When their extensions expired, their SF-50s said just that "Term expired." Of the few I know, none of them had extreme difficulty getting back into the feds. It could be the same scenario at BVA.

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 4:48 pm)

In my training group, my understanding was that few SSA jobs were hired initially permanent. I think probably 90% were on 2-year contracts.

BVA is permanent to start with.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 5:00 pm)

If you get fired after 8 months and can never get a federal job again yeah I guess that’s permanent

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 5:02 pm)

Term expiring is different than being fired or asked to resign.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 5:30 pm)

Keep in mind when you fill out the forms if you get an offer or even apply for some jobs they ask if you’ve been fired from a federal job.

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 5:48 pm)

Well you can always quit if you know you are not meeting production. It is not like it would come up on you like a surprise that you are too slow.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 6:54 pm)

I wouldn’t want to have such a high stress job for the rest of my life asssimg I could even make quota in 50-60 hours a week

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flyer14 (Dec 15, 2017 - 9:39 am)

Is that lower stress than being a perennial doc reviewer wondering when the project ends?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 9:41 am)

No because if a doc review project ends I can get on another project. If you get fired from a federal job that basically prevents you from getting a federal job again even outside of law.

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flyer14 (Dec 15, 2017 - 10:19 am)

Aren't you like 40?

Your career is half over and you've spent most of it in doc review.

I say give the Feds the ole college try. Consider the worst possible outcome: you're asked to resign in a year. At least you got a year's worth of pay at a GS-11 in DC, which is more than what most doc reviewers can hope for given how uncertain many of those projects are. And nothing keeps you from going back to doc review.

Worst case scenario: you make 70k in a year and can still go back to your old job. Very little ventured, nothing lost. And I don't want to hear "I'll never work for the Feds again." You haven't worked for the Feds at any point in the last 15 years anyway.

Best case scenario: you get a cut-pasted JC Penney suit, go to the damned interview, slay it at the job, make it to a GS-14, and retire with benefits and a pension.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 10:21 am)

It I get fired that means I can’t get another federal job meaning doc review for the rest of my life. I won’t be able to get a contract specialist job which is my goal at this point

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flyer14 (Dec 15, 2017 - 10:32 am)

At this rate, you haven't worked for the Feds at any point in the past 15 years anyway so what is there to lose?

***

I'm not trying to be unnecessarily harsh, but your anxiety is paralyzing your decision making process.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 10:35 am)

If I get fired I will basically be forever barred from any federal job. Id like to wait until bva works out it’s issues do I have a chance at a career rather than a stain on my record

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downwardslope (Dec 15, 2017 - 11:20 am)

Resign before you get fired. If you get a tyrant judge, it is not like it will be a surprise. Just leave before it is time to resign in lieu of and go back to doc review. How is that worse than doc review for life or until automation?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 11:21 am)

Because that’s being fired and I wouldn’t be able to get s contract specialist job as a a fed. Would also burn bridges with the people I accepted an offer at

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downwardslope (Dec 15, 2017 - 11:31 am)

It is not being fired. If you know you are not making quota, you leave. Don’t wait until they decide they need to fire you. Plenty of people leave jobs because they know they can’t cut it. It is not being fired if they have not been asked to leave... yet.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 11:33 am)

And how do I know when that moment is? Too much risk. It’s s horrible a place now and I’d ruin my chances. I don’t see how it hurts to wait another year to hope for better conditions there

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flyer14 (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:54 pm)

Doc review - a bunch of temp projects with uncertain end dates, no benefits, and working in often deplorable conditions - is the epitome of “too much risk.”

Federal employment is far less risky.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:59 pm)

That’s why I don’t want yo risk my future on apparently the worst federal job there is with the highest firing rate. I have a contractor job offer. If I didn’t I would probably risk the interview here but given the odds of getting fired are so high it isn’t worth the risk to my goal of a fed career.

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downwardslope (Dec 15, 2017 - 1:16 pm)

It is not the worst. I know people who have had worse. They literally started looking again right after training. That is what you do.

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toosexyformygrade (Dec 13, 2017 - 11:38 am)

FYI, it takes 18 years to go from Step 1 to 10, you'd likely get to GS13 in that time

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 11:43 am)

What is the name of the field of law that the work One does at the SSA ? Is it just disability law? Looking to get a primer so when I apply for these jobs I can sort of know what I’m talking about

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startupesq (Dec 13, 2017 - 1:22 pm)

If you are referring to one of the mass hirings, you will be writing decisions for ALJS. You will be trained on the five-step process and from there rinse and repeat for the rest of your career.

If you are not talking about the mass hirings, OGC and OIG lawyers have much more responsibility and duties for which you're probably not going to get a primer from anyone. Good luck though!

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 1:30 pm)

Meant the mass hiring type jobs should they ever do that where I live. Want to know the underlying area of law a bit

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startupesq (Dec 13, 2017 - 1:47 pm)

In that case, this gives a good idea of what you'll be inundated with

https://www.ssa.gov/oidap/Documents/Social%20Security%20Administration.%20%20SSAs%20Sequential%20Evaluation.pdf

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 2:02 pm)

If you want to read actual law instead of an awful power point 20 cfr 404 and 416. The cfrs are actually pretty well written and easy to understand.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 2:03 pm)

Thanks

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startupesq (Dec 13, 2017 - 3:03 pm)

Haha, yes it is awful. Just offered for him/her to get a sense of what it entails. SSA will go over and above to train him/her to write. Besides, if he/she anticipates being a member of one of the mass hirings, he will be subjected to awful powerpoints on a regular basis. LOL!

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 3:05 pm)

My concern is being able to show interest. Hard to claim I do if I know nothing about the area of law I’d be working in

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startupesq (Dec 13, 2017 - 3:09 pm)

A legitimate interest in public service goes a long way...

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 3:13 pm)

I have a legit interest on public service but not in the area of law

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startupesq (Dec 13, 2017 - 3:34 pm)

Express that and you will be fine. Like downwardslope said, people come from many different backgrounds and interests.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 3:40 pm)

In the past I was given a really hard time about showing interest for higher level entry level jobs . I had a labor department interview years ago and they couldn’t get past the fact I never took labor law

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 3:59 pm)

From what I can tell, it is more about general interest. Most people had some public service experiences, but some were like a college internship 10 years prior or a former volunteer political position.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 4:08 pm)

I had that. Didn’t help on my higher level attorney interviews. Was given a hard time if I hadn’t taken courses in the subject area. Even if I had the courses I still didn’t get offers do it made no difference

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 4:22 pm)

Why are you telling a person who already has the job what does and does not matter? They want people with public service experience who are able to write well and write quickly. Period.

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 3:09 pm)

People in my class had criminal, real estate, insurance defense, etc. You will get the PowerPoint experience and will probably get a CFR.

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downwardslope (Dec 13, 2017 - 1:27 pm)

Admin law. Many people in OGC do admin law too.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:03 pm)

hearing this va hiring class is slated to start late january/early february

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:06 pm)

Are you interviewing?

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:13 pm)

already did-they seem to be moving quick through interviews for this class (not sure when offers will go out

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 13, 2017 - 8:24 pm)

I’m declining my interview. My temp job is more certain at this point

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kramer716 (Dec 13, 2017 - 9:21 pm)

They were going out a couple weeks after the interview during the last round of hiring, but new admin so may be different.

Actually let me amend that and say about ten days. This doesn't take into account when they stopped sending out offers due to the hiring freeze.

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whynot (Dec 13, 2017 - 9:21 pm)

Just to be clear, if you are not succeeding at the Board you always have the opportunity to resign instead of being fired, and then it does not impact any future federal employment. If someone turns out not to be a good fit at the Board, it doesn't mean they can't be a good fit somewhere else. This job is not for everyone. No job is.

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john09 (Dec 13, 2017 - 10:05 pm)

I'm pretty sure that a resignation in lieu of termination is the same thing as a termination. If you are forced to resign from the Board, you still have to disclose that you resigned in lieu of termination on any federal employment forms. Therefore, anyone who resigns in lieu of termination would harm his or her chances of future federal employment.

Considering all the negative comments about the Board from current BVA employees, I would say that joining the Board is a huge risk for anyone with a stable job.

Also, if nearly 100 Board attorneys have lost confidence in the leadership at BVA, isn't the onus on management to change the culture rather than forcing people out?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 10:07 am)

Seems like it is risky for anyone even if they don’t alread have a job because if you get fired kiss any hope of a federal career goodbye. And I would imagine state and local government jobs too

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somefed (Dec 14, 2017 - 6:04 am)

https://federalemployeelawblog.com/2015/08/03/resignation-before-termination-federal-employee-concerns/

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bigboom (Dec 14, 2017 - 7:50 am)

Why not, or anyone who definitively knows. What is the policy on flexiplace after two years. Is it permanent work from home as in all day every day? Is their a location basis. Ie could I move to Montana and work from home. Do they have an inspection requirement. Does anyone actually do it? Thanks

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 9:08 am)

Guess it would be easier to makequota if you didn’t have a commute but that’s a stretch to assume one can last 2 years there

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threedham (Dec 14, 2017 - 11:55 am)

They allow you to work from home (in the D.C. area) after the one-year mark. At the two-year mark, they allow you to do remote telework, meaning you can live anywhere in the country and work from home. With regular telework, you usually come in once a week. With remote telework it's something like once a quarter.

Yes, people do it. There's basically no room in the building for attorneys as-is, so they really encourage people to telework as soon as it becomes available. Some people choose to stay and keep an office, but it's not required at all.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 12:07 pm)

How is communication done with aljs from home? How many survive to a year?

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threedham (Dec 14, 2017 - 3:13 pm)

The same way most of the communication with the judges happens at the Board; through encrypted IMs or email or phone calls. This really is a job that does not require much facetime at all, which frankly is one of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of it.

I can't speak to how many people survive the first year. Certainly most people do. But keep in mind, last year only 40% of the attorneys hit the 169 cases mark, which is the new minimum.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 3:23 pm)

How difficult is the work?

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john09 (Dec 14, 2017 - 3:42 pm)

My source at the Board told me that only 40 percent of the Board attained an exceptional performance rating (145 decisions or more). Therefore, it appears to me that even those who attained an exceptional rating will have difficulty getting up to 169 decisions, as this year's minimum is 24 cases more than last year's exceptional.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 3:45 pm)

Does anyone know the odds of someone lasting 2-5 years there? If it is 50% then I might risk my possible entire future career at the feds for it but if it’s less than 50% I’d be crazy to risk ruining my odds of fed employment by getting fired

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startupesq (Dec 14, 2017 - 3:51 pm)

Are there any chances that the recent grievances/complaints will improve the quota? Does management seem receptive to changes or are they complacent with what appears to be a revolving door?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 3:57 pm)

Given the union actions I’d think not. Looks like their plan is to hire and fire until they have a core group who can make quota or people willing to work 70 hours a week .

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john09 (Dec 14, 2017 - 4:28 pm)

I've done a lot of research about the Board. Apparently, the Board has been a very toxic place for a long time. I don't think anything will change so long as the Board keeps promoting the same individuals who caused the dysfunction in the first place.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 4:30 pm)

Am I being an idiot for not taking the risk of interviewing or accepting an offer? My ultimate goal is a federal career in any field.

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downwardslope (Dec 14, 2017 - 5:24 pm)

Probably. My experience in state government is that tons of people took jobs in the really undesirable jobs to start and then quickly used that to get into a better job once they were in the system. Seriously- in my state there were around 3 undesirable jobs and it seems like MOST people had experience in at least one of them. I stayed in my toxic place not even 11 months. I heard my replacement lasted 4-6 months. The smart people just knew when it was time to leave because they weren’t going to be able to meet the quotas. The stupid people got fired because they weren’t meeting the quotas or their writing quality was too poor or they were padding their timesheets.

I know multiple people who stayed at places anywhere from 3-6 months with the feds and it doesn’t seem like it really hurt them in any way.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 5:27 pm)

But you are likely to get fired after 8 months at BVA and I wouldn’t have anything else I could go to in the feds in 8 months or before if I quit before getting fired. Getting fired could ruin any chance of getting another fed job again meaning s lifetime of doc review or going back to school and no still no fed job after school

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downwardslope (Dec 14, 2017 - 6:26 pm)

How do you know you wouldn’t have anything else you could go to? You just get the job and then start applying to something else ASAP. I know people who have done it. Successfully. Right now you are doing short term doc review... it is not like you are giving up a full-time job with benefits, which I would absolutely not recommend doing. I still don’t know why you didn’t try for that IRS one that sounded pretty good...

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 6:29 pm)

The BVA job is the only interview I’ve had in the past 14 years and the only federal offer I’ve ever had. Will being a fed make other agencies consider me? They haven’t in the past

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wolfman (Dec 14, 2017 - 11:20 pm)

take the interview and take the job if you get it it's better than doc review you van telework after 2 years and apply for other fed jobs as a fed if you hate also this is BS I bet they let you just resign voluntarily and if it's not officially in lieu of termination you never have to tell anyone but you don't resign you try to get another job as a fed

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john09 (Dec 14, 2017 - 11:36 pm)

Wolfman, I would be very surprised if you are able to pass the writing test that the Board just implemented.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 5:37 am)

Writing test?

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wolfman (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:20 pm)

I've passed every writing test I've taken with bells on, and currently work in a job where I draft highly complex applications to court chock-full of medical expert opinions, but whatever (I have no interest in a job with the BVA btw)

Are you going by what i typed on the bus last night while half-asleep? LOL

Mostly, I'm telling NRAL to take the damn interview if offered and stop allowing his intensely negative and abjectly fearful attitude to lead him to making bad decisions, but IMHO it would be a good idea for him to stop thinking about things in such a limited, concrete, and deeply negative manner.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:23 pm)

If they give me an offer I’ll take it bc I’m desperate and that will result in me burning bridges with the company I accepted an offer at and s high risk I’ll gdr fired from bva and ruin chances for a fed career.

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burneremail (Dec 14, 2017 - 6:51 pm)

There is literally no risk in an interview. You can’t lose something you don’t have. If nothing else you get practice interviewing for a federal job.

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bigboom (Dec 14, 2017 - 6:18 pm)

Thanks for the response. I was told they they can require you to come back one quarter if remote but they pay. Remote telework could be a deciding factor for me so I want to make sure.

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john09 (Dec 14, 2017 - 7:06 pm)

Keep in mind, if you fall behind on production, your supervisor could take away remote telework as a punitive measure (SSA does this). I imagine it's the same at VA.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 7:11 pm)

Does anyone even make production quotas at bva?

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downwardslope (Dec 14, 2017 - 7:52 pm)

It depends on the judge. Luckily at SSA we are in a pool, so we only get a bad judge decision X% of the time (I would say only 1/6 of the judges in my office are bad). However, at BVA I think you get one judge. I think when I get a bad judge decision, I expect it to take about 75%-125% more time than the other decisions. I know if I had one of them ALL the time, I would be fired. Bad judges are the ones who might allow tons of continuances and then take forever to decide so more info comes in and it needs to be reconvened or an expert opinion needs to be ordered. In the hearing, they do not ask any relevant questions. So what should have been decided a year ago then has one year more of records and associated testimony to review for no good reason, while any testimony that has been provided is usually not too helpful.

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kemken (Dec 14, 2017 - 10:30 am)

Haven't got a call yet. Not sure if I will or not. Interesting considering I have experience litigating before the VA and CAVC, with multiple victories under my belt. Perhaps they do not want attorneys with prior experience?

Congratulations to all who have interviewed. I wish you the best.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 14, 2017 - 11:11 am)

I think it’s ver random. They gave me an offer years ago and last time I applied i didn’t even get referred now they offered me an interview

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downwardslope (Dec 14, 2017 - 11:23 am)

Yeah I have had similar experiences and have disability experience, although not with the VA, and always got referred for MEB positions with the army and interviewed once there. So strange.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 14, 2017 - 6:12 pm)

fwiw, the folks that I talked to that interviewed had experience (e.g., ssa experience, military experience, etc.) not sure how vet preferences will play into hiring

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threedham (Dec 15, 2017 - 9:13 am)

Since it's in the excepted service, the veteran's preference is inapplicable. They do unofficially give you a bump if you mention it in your interview and your cover letter, since the Board sort of comically has very few former military.

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whynot (Dec 14, 2017 - 6:50 pm)

To answer the telework question. Yes after 1 year the option is available for telework, come into the office 2 days a pay period, after 2 years you can work full remote and never come in. Lots of attorneys do that, we have employees in California, Texas, New Jersey, Tennessee, all over. Although the Board can bring you in up to 4 times a year if you work remote, it is at government expense and so far after almost a year of full remote policy we have not required people to come in at all.

As for the odds of working here 2-5 years, as I indicated the attrition rate in the first year is less than 10%. Over 5 years it is obviously higher than that but most, if not all, of the attrition after 2 years is voluntary since it is a 2-year probationary period.

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bigboom (Dec 15, 2017 - 7:19 am)

Why not thank you for the reply for remote work

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somefed (Dec 14, 2017 - 10:00 pm)

Bullshit, Why not. Just bullshit. The attrition rate for the most recent group is more than 10 percent. I know of 5 personally and have heard of many more. At one point I heard that several people were walking into HR every day to resign.

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john09 (Dec 14, 2017 - 10:31 pm)

@somefed

It's not in management's best interest to publicize the real attrition rate at the Board. Whynot makes it seem like everything is rosy at the Board. However, you may have noticed that whynot never answered my question as to why nearly 100 attorneys have expressed lack of confidence in management or addressed the reasons for the union's grievances. I too believe that the real attrition rate is far higher than 10 percent.

Here at SSA, my colleagues and I know all too well the horrors at BVA. Some of us will jump ship to BVA despite knowing the horror stories because of the GS-14 potential. But, I know for sure that many SSA attorneys are having second thoughts about transferring to BVA.

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downwardslope (Dec 15, 2017 - 7:32 am)

It may be different outside of DC, but at least in my area, it seems like the ability to get promoted is such that it’s still not worth going back to GS-11 and getting fired in hopes you will get to GS-14. It seems like people who have wanted to get promoted have been able to do so, although it has not been in the standard ladder progression. The mentality is more that right now is not really normal due to the backlog (since even the promoted attorneys have to write, at least in my office), and hopefully in the future there will be more opportunities popping up. Even with the limited opportunities, we still have had people who have done details recently. It takes 5 years to get to GS-14 from GS-11, but as someone who has time in grade at GS-12 already, they could theoretically get there in 2 if they play their cards right.

Depending on prior experience, some GS-12s can even become ALJs these days, although it is probably less likely if the job is the only experience they’ve had. We had people come into the job already on the register or going through the process of it.

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threedham (Dec 15, 2017 - 9:22 am)

They're also not mentioning the mass firings that happened a few years ago. I know a GS-14 who was there in 2013 when they nuked like half of their class.

I would accept the stat that there's only been 10% genuinely voluntary attrition of the new attorneys, but most if not all are under the one-year mark and so haven't been held truly accountable for their production levels. Plus, a huge swath of us started over the summer and aren't on production yet. And among the classes that started over the summer, we've already lost some people who've said, "screw it, this isn't worth it" and quit to go back to doing what they were before.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 8:55 am)

I was doing some searches and there’s some place called dc moms that has a lot of people working at the bva. As of 2016 they were saying the quota was manageable and turnover rate was about 9% yearly but that’s before the new quota

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john09 (Dec 15, 2017 - 9:31 am)

@notreallyalawyer

FYI, there was no production quota in 2016.

In 2016, the VA Secretary put Carol Debattiste in charge of the BVA specifically to improve morale and working conditions. Everyone I talked to said Carol did a terrific job and greatly improved morale to the highest point in years (hence the low attrition rate that year).

Additionally, in 2016, Carol got rid of the production standard in favor of a deadline system. However, as the Board's productivity tanked, Carol reimplemented production standards in early 2017, albeit at a much lower level. After Carol left in 2017, morale dropped again, and is now at the lowest point due to the increased quota and worsening treatment of attorneys.

I don't think the information you cited is relevant now, as things appear to be much worse now after Carol left the Board.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 9:35 am)

They scheduled an interview for me without even asking though I’d have to confirm it. I have an offer for a law clerk position, waiting on background check. Am I making a mistake by declining interview? I don’t want to ruin my chances for s fed career if I get fired

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lydia (Dec 15, 2017 - 9:55 am)

If you develop a good relationship with your judge and are willing to work late and on weekends to hit whatever quota they set, you are most likely not going to get fired or asked to resign. The new quota is a huge increase over the prior quota, and most of the attorneys can't reliably meet it in the 40 hour week even working nonstop. On the flip side, a minority of attorneys are exceeding it. As to whether you can have a good work life balance and do the job, that is going the depend on what your judges expect and your own work ethic. The distribution of the workload is not a science, and it will often not be fair.

The stress level is high among the attorneys and the judges, and the perception among attorneys from the GS 11 to the GS 15 level is that the current attrition rate is closer to 20 percent. I would very surprised if we lost less than 50 people this year out of the 300 or so they brought in. Some of the senior people have said the number is higher than that, and even many of the attorneys who are doing well are shopping around with other agencies. The quota is set to compensate for the high attrition rate.

While there are certainly a lot of better government jobs out there, I'd say BVA is still a much better deal than a lot of the lower end private sector jobs, and it's certainly better than unemployment or short term document review.

Getting your foot in the door in federal employment helps you get other jobs, and many of the BVA attorneys who can't handle the hours or stress of the job will probably be able to obtain employment with other agencies in time.

With that said, you have all the information you need to make an informed decision now unlike some of the new people they brought in last year.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 9:58 am)

I tend to not get along well with people . Very few friends and people in power over me intensely intimidate me. How many hours does the average person need to work to make quota ?

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lydia (Dec 15, 2017 - 10:11 am)

Probably around 10 hours or a bit more, but it depends on the week. The job is not very social and you can just work on your own for the most part, but you will be probably be intimated by people in power over you in this job if you don't make quota or produce sloppy work. It's part of the sink or swim culture unfortunately.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 10:15 am)

If I decided to wait a year or two in hopes the situation improves there would that be wise? I technically have already accepted a job offer. I just want to make sure I’m making the right decision. I want a federal career eventually

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threedham (Dec 15, 2017 - 10:15 am)

It varies depending on the complexity of the cases judges are assigning you. A single-issue service connection case with 100 documents in the claims file might take 3-6 hours, whereas a 10 issue increased rating psych case with 500 documents might take a couple days. But it varies.

This can be a fairly solitary job. I meet with my judges maybe once a week, but the majority of my communication with them is via email. You don't have "coworkers" in the sense of doing group projects, so if you wanted to you could come in with headphones all day any not talk to anyone. It'd be... weird, but whatever man.

Honestly, just from reading your posts, no one is going to be able to give you good advice on what to do. It seems like you might have unresolved anxiety and mental health issues that should be addressed with a physician. Just do what you think is best for you. As others have said, it's a good paying job that isn't exciting, but it's federal and it offers a ladder to GS-14 without competing. The office morale is low and job security isn't comparable to other agencies, but that's the trade-off.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:04 pm)

So afraid of getting fired and ruining my chances of a fed career

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threedham (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:09 pm)

You don't have a fed career as is, and this is the only kind of entry-level fed career that seems fitted to someone who's people-averse and has panic-inducing anxiety. You can keep plugging away at those FOIA attorney jobs, but they involve interaction with supervisors. I don't know what else to tell you. Interview or don't, but not interviewing because you're afraid of being fired a year from now and ruining your non-existent federal career is ridiculous.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:14 pm)

If I get fired anything I go back to school for would be pointless in the public sector as they won’t hire me after getting fired from s fed job. And I’d have to interact with a judge.

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unemployedvagabond (Dec 15, 2017 - 1:46 pm)

It sounds like you would be miserable at the job and wouldn't do well because of it. Is the law clerk job bad? It seems like a decent gig.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 1:48 pm)

It’s doc review. At least I know I can do that. Maybe I can start going back to school while doing that job

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unemployedvagabond (Dec 15, 2017 - 2:32 pm)

If you're going to back to school and essentially drop out from law, then why not go for the VA interview. Maybe it's not a huge black mark to quit.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 2:37 pm)

Because if they give me an offer I won’t say no and that will harm my future or if they don’t give me an offer that will kill what little confidence I have.

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downwardslope (Dec 15, 2017 - 2:49 pm)

Future of what? Going from doc review to doc review like you have been doing for the past decade+? Worst case scenario, you are back where you started.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 3:11 pm)

While precluding even non law federal employment

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 15, 2017 - 10:34 am)

Anyone know if there is a writing test for this round of hiring?

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karlmarx (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:02 pm)

What's the point of a government job if you can't be lazy? The federal deal isn't good enough to be working over 40 hours....

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 12:05 pm)

I don’t mind working 50 hours and working through lunch for the rest of my life but if it is 65 hours then no.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 2:04 pm)

Bva fired a nearly 30 year employee for production bc she was sick and couldn’t make quota

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john09 (Dec 15, 2017 - 6:06 pm)

Well, it appears that loyalty at BVA is a one way street if management is willing to fire a 30 year employee for not meeting production due to illness.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 7:12 pm)

Though this has been going in for years maybe even if they hire fewer in the future which is the current rumor I may have a better chance for a long term position if I wait. I officially declined their interview today. The story about the person fired convinced me now isn’t a good time for such a substantial risk

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john09 (Dec 15, 2017 - 7:23 pm)

BVA is such a toxic place that you probably made the right call.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 7:43 pm)

Sad that that and SSA are my only chance to use my law degree.

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jdmaryland (Dec 17, 2017 - 3:57 pm)

Foolish. You should’ve taken the interview for the interviewing experience. And “I can’t say no” is a bs excuse. You are an adult.

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jinomas (Dec 15, 2017 - 7:58 pm)

This is a fascinating thread.

I don't see a distinction being made between SSA National Case Assistance Center (NCAC) decision-writers and Appeals Council (AC) analysts. These are different positions, and later seems to be more desirable. The last SSA Attorney-Adviser (AA) GS-11 class came in as a new division at the AC (NTE 4 year term) in mid-late 2016 as part of the agency's Temporary Adjudication Augmentation Strategy (that was all but torpedoed by the ALJ union), but all but 10-15 of them were "NCAC'ed" after the government-wide hiring freeze earlier this year. So they ended up with less desirable decision-writer positions that they did not sign up for.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 15, 2017 - 8:06 pm)

I honestly didn’t think about the hiring freeze but it still would have only factored a little. They one day will hire again

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downwardslope (Dec 15, 2017 - 8:17 pm)

GS-13 and GS-14 people in other positions who are not writers have also been stuck writing. It is not isolated to these GS-11s who were transferred and not on permanent contracts. There are people who are in a variety of positions who simply haven’t been able to do those positions for a long time because there aren’t enough writers. I find the issues with the GS-13/14 senior positions more egregious than the GS-11 people who were hired on to term positions and not yet made permanent.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 17, 2017 - 12:40 pm)

Greetings all, just joining this very informative forum.

I 'm one of the 150 attorneys being interviewed to be brought to VBA. I have an interview this Wednesday, December 20th. I am not an entry level attorney, worked for the feds in the past and have my own side practice while I do doc review when things slow down. My concerns are not just what's being said here but also the GS 11 grade being offered. Is there room to negotiate at I left the feds with GS 12 step 10 and would like to start at least with the same grade/step if/when offered the position? I was able to negotiate my last GS grade from a 10 step 4 to an 11 step 10 but that was another agency and another life time. Is the VBA a bit more flexible? What are the questions to watch out for so that I can prepare as best as I can despite my severe disillusionment after reading this blog thread? Appreciate the feedback.

Also, here is a some feedback from a friend who is a GS 15 but is on the policy side and she isn't an attorney but has a lot of insight on what goes on at the VA on all levels. This is her email to me this AM:

" Two things to consider here:

1) I had mentioned to you that morale at the Board was in the gutter. This just shows you how bad it is. But keep in mind there is always two sides to a story.

2) No one likes to be held accountable. Little background history for you: Production standards have historically always been VERY low at the Board, so their backlog had mushroomed to sky high levels. As VBA got rid of the claims backlog and began focusing on its appeals inventory and was able to lower it in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the Board’s kept going up bringing the overall appeals inventory to historic high levels. The VA appeals process is a two-step process with the Administration as the first step in the process to try to resolve the appeal, if still dissatisfied, the Veteran can continue the appeal to the Board. About 1/2 who file an appeal, choose to continue to the Board. The Board has a 5 year backlog in holding hearings.

The prior acting Chairwoman, Carol DiBattiste, who came from outside the Board, came on the heels of another long Acting Chairwoman getting the boot, passed new performance standards eliminating production as one of the elements and focusing on timeliness, in the hopes it would increase productivity. It failed big time and their production tanked even further in 2016. She was obviously not aware that VBA had tried that approach a decade ago and it too famously failed, causing the claims backlog to skyrocket. Carol quit VA once Hillary lost the election. However, she was a breath of fresh air at the Board and was doing a great job in changing the culture. I liked her a lot. The current acting Chairman, Judge Dave Splickler never wanted the job, he is an honorable man. He is retiring. Cheryl Mason was nominated as the new Chairwoman, the first in over a decade as the other were all acting. She grew up from inside the Board. She is not an outsider, so folks at the Board know her Very well and she is not very liked. She went through Senate confirmation hearing, which should be available online, and I believe just got approved or will soon. I personally don’t like Cheryl b/c I don’t believe she is that bright or a good leader, she is just a yes-man and has no introspective thoughts of her own. I see her as a parrot but that is just my personal opinion from being in meetings with her. That is what got her to where she is, she is a party-line person the whole way. However, you cannot blame her and Dave Splickler for trying to fix the productivity problem at the Board. Perhaps their approach is not the best and has created a lot of anxiety amongst employees at the Board. The Board is going through the same growing pains VBA went through when we were in the news just about every day because of our claims backlog.

That’s why there has been so much scrutiny and congress has been trying to hold VA accountable in its massive reporting requirements in the new appeal process law. BTW: have you read PL 115-55? It describes the new appeals process that goes into effect Feb 2019."

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 17, 2017 - 12:47 pm)

There’s no negotiation. You get GS-11 step 1. People give up gs12 ssa jobs to go to gs11 with hopes of going to gs14 if they don’t get fired.

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john09 (Dec 17, 2017 - 12:58 pm)

If you join the Board, your feelings of severe disillusionment will likely turn into feelings of helplessness and misery.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 17, 2017 - 1:27 pm)

Thanks guys and that's exactly what I'm afraid of. I heard from a friend who is an attorney at VBA (starting her second year) who said that management has gotten calls from HR about many asking for SF-50s and apparently HR has asked the management to cut the s*&% out - whatever it is that they are doing to cause this mass requests. An employee generally wouldn't asks for an SF-50, unless he/she was intending on exiting. She also told me that interviewers are getting asked about comments on jdunderground....I am now tempted to cancel my interview.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 17, 2017 - 1:35 pm)

People are bringing up this in an interview? I’d never do that.

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:51 pm)

I'm beginning to believe your source's comment that interviewers are getting asked about the comments on JDU. Within a span of a few hours, we've had 3 people (who all started during the summer) talk about how great the Board is. If the Board is as great as it seems, I wonder why nearly 100 BVA attorneys risked their careers to sign the loss of confidence statement to Congress. Hmm...

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somefed (Dec 17, 2017 - 1:41 pm)

Hi Hopeful71,

That is interesting information. One thing I must take issue with is the idea that production standards were historically low at the Board. That gossip is from someone who never worked there and has no clue about the Board. Your friend made it sound like the Board employees were lazy. On the contrary, attorneys have historically worked unpaid overtime, including weekends, to keep up with very demanding production standards. The inability to keep up with the high number of appeals is not due to poor production, but rather due to a flood of appeals being sent up to the Board from VBA.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 17, 2017 - 1:45 pm)

Since there is a bit of discussion about SSA and all sorts of comparisons being made, I will give you all my recent experience with SSA. Someone asked where is the SSA job posting as they haven't seen it more recently. Here is where it's at:
I applied to the last SSA job posting back in June of 2017 and wasn't selected as I got the notification stating "Not Selected."

Fast forward to September 15th of this year, I got an email from an SSA judge saying they have received my application packet and would like to interview me on the 19th (4 days later). This confused the S*&^ out of me b/c you don't get the "not selected" email from USAjobs and then 4 months later an email asking to be interviewed....do you get where I am going with this? I have to talked to 4 SSA attorneys who all said the same thing and that is SSA is at all time chaos, poor management on all levels including the HR. I was also told not to be surprised as to how my application was handled. I think I was being benched the entire time even though I got the not selected' disposition. They put me and others on list of 'May bes' to reach out to at a later time if need be....but this is just my own speculation...

Anyway, the interview was with three ALJs and all telephonic. The asked me if I was ready to accept an offer despite my side practice and how soon I could start blub bluh bluh. The head judge said I will hear something at the end of the following week as they are trying to make 7 offers before the end of the fiscal year. He said there is huge backlog and that they are bringing a lot of people. Three weeks went by and no response. I reached out to the judge, no response. I reached out one HR person, no response. I reached out to a second HR person twice and finally got an email with this out of the world, amazing response: "selections have been made." That's it. What does that mean? Selections have been made and I wasn't selected or selections have been made, I am selected and will let you know when we will be bringing you on? Seriously WTF? And you think VBA is better? I say they are all the same s*&^.

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somefed (Dec 17, 2017 - 3:20 pm)

Hopeful 71, is your friend at BVA ( Board of Veterans Appeals) or VBA ( Veterans Benefits Administration)? These are separate agencies within VA. VBA handles initial adjudication at a local level; BVA handles the appeals from VBA offices.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 17, 2017 - 3:38 pm)

Thank you somefed. She is at VBA and yes I know the difference between VBA and VBA. She has been there a very long time and is in policy and has good insight.

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john09 (Dec 17, 2017 - 4:41 pm)

Everything that hopefulesq71 wrote appears to be consistent with what my sources at BVA have told me. In fact, my post from December 15 at 9:31 a.m. is nearly identical with hopefulesq71's post at 1:45 p.m. So, I have confidence in hopefulesq71's source at VA - she must know a lot about the Board.

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john09 (Dec 17, 2017 - 4:47 pm)

I found some interesting information online regarding the climate at the Board. Keep in mind, the Congressional testimony is from 2014. A lot of things have changed since then - unfortunately for the worse.

http://docs.house.gov/meetings/VR/VR08/20140910/102615/HHRG-113-VR08-Wstate-KordichK-20140910.pdf

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 17, 2017 - 5:09 pm)

John09,

sorry if this has been asked and answered as I am coming in a bit late into this discussion and might have missed a few posts above that would answer my question. Are you currently at the BVA? if so, any tips for my upcoming interview? I think I have a good sense of what to say and not to say. I am definitely going to ask about work/life balance (ha!!!), training, OT (might ab dumb questions since I know how they are trying to avoid paying OT), production, mentorship, promotional headroom, etc. w/out mentioning the horror on this forum and see what they say and how they answer my questions. I am sure they are all aware of the letter to Congress and comments on this forum - heck there might even be a mole on here trolling this forum and seeing what employees are saying for intel gathering purposes....

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john09 (Dec 17, 2017 - 5:38 pm)

hopefulesq71 - I'm actually a SSA employee. As a lot of my colleagues from SSA joined BVA either last year or this year, I thought very seriously about applying for the position. However, when I contacted my former colleagues, all of them told me not to leave SSA. My former colleagues were kind of enough to share a lot of information with me and are providing me with updates on a regular basis. I'm passing along the information on JDU so that everyone can make an informed decision as to whether or not to join BVA.

I don't have any tips to give you regarding the interview. However, as BVA is trying to hire 150 new attorneys, I don't think the questions will be particularly hard. Just appear to be normal, and you will surely get the job. Whether you should take the job, if offered, is an entirely different matter.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 17, 2017 - 5:31 pm)

John09,

I am reading the link you sent and I am appalled by what she wrote...OMG!!!! So glad to see that she spoke out, but it didn't get the VBA anywhere, or did it?

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john09 (Dec 17, 2017 - 5:41 pm)

No, things actually got worse after Carol Dibattiste left the Board.

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jinomas (Dec 17, 2017 - 5:40 pm)

So, is the consensus that this BVA job is similar to SSA NCAC decision-writing job, but with a ladder to GS-14, but tougher production quotas?

How do these two jobs stack up the to SSA Appeals Council analysts positions? That thread is interesting too.

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john09 (Dec 17, 2017 - 5:54 pm)

Well jinomas, the BVA position seems to have much tougher production standards. But, I wouldn't say that the production standard is the main difference. My former colleagues, who left SSA, tell me that BVA has a toxic culture, unlike SSA which is more supportive, friendly, and not quick to fire people. Like BVA, SSA has a high attrition rate. However, the reasons for the high attrition rates are markedly different at BVA and SSA. Those who aren't fired leave BVA because of the toxic environment. SSA employees leave the agency because of the limited promotion potential. I see my future at SSA, and that is why I'm staying at SSA.

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downwardslope (Dec 17, 2017 - 6:33 pm)

Keep in mind that most writers at SSA are not at the NCACs, and once you get out of the NCACs, I think the turnover for morale reasons is lower. As john09 indicated, it is mostly due to lack of promotion opportunities. However, that’s been more recent and who knows whether that will continue indefinitely. From what I can tell, the AC has a separate promotion structure and the more recent AC senior attorney postings have been for AC employees only. There ARE still details available at the GS-13 level as people in my office have done them this year, although they aren’t as plentiful as they used to be.

I think the main issue with the BVA is that you’re rolling the dice as SSA employee that by going back to GS-11, you can make production standards and then make it to GS-14 in four years. On the other hand, it could be much faster at SSA if a GS-13 senior attorney position opens up (or some other GS-13 position of interest opens up) that you can go into. I know that in my office, there are often jokes that the extreme producers of the past might be have been fast, but who knows whether they wrote in complete sentences. I think it’s easy to be a regular producer, but hard to get to the extreme production level and still be legally sufficient at a level that might make some of these BVA judges happy.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 17, 2017 - 7:02 pm)

I'm curious what happens to those who left SSA for BVA, then get fired for production. What can/do they do next?

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 17, 2017 - 11:29 pm)

Thank you so much John09.

I apologize for the late response. I have yoga on Sunday evenings which I go to every week. We chant OM once at the end of the class. My OM tonight was the strongest than ever - I think due to the stress of reading all this stuff on here.

I appreciate the info everyone is sharing on this blog. SSA went weird on me with the disposition of my application so in my mind I gave them the big finger. As far as BVA goes, I am now hesitant in even wanting to go through the interview on Wednesday....I have a feeling things are only going to get worse for the federal employees in general but especially for BVA. I hope and pray that I am wrong.

Have a good night everyone.

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jinomas (Dec 18, 2017 - 1:42 pm)

How are the interviews going?

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 18, 2017 - 8:52 pm)

standard interview questions-thought things went well. now it's wait and see. any offers yet? anyone been asked to do a writing test?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 19, 2017 - 9:16 am)

Turns out the 29 year employee fired wasn’t sick. She just fell behind and they fired her for that

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 19, 2017 - 9:25 am)

The 30 year employee fired for being sick and caring for elderly relative didn’t utilize FMLA .

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 19, 2017 - 12:06 pm)

I read through all of the threads regarding BVA and I have decided that if given the opportunity, I would take the job. I have had worse and a job is better than no job at this time in my life.

Does anyone know how many are being interviewed? What types of questions are being asked?

Of those that have interviewed this cycle, has anyone received an offer? (Or did the interviewers provide an estimated notice of selection time-frame?)

Finally, could someone clarify (1) whether training without production is 3 months or 6 months and (2) if someone has prior fed service as a GS-13 attorney, is there a possibility to negotiate a step increase rather than starting at 11-1.

Thanks!

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threedham (Dec 19, 2017 - 12:18 pm)

Current BVA attorney here. Production starts at 6 months. You're in "boot camp" training for the first three months where you have classes on veterans law and close supervision by a mentor who reviews your drafts before you submit cases to your judge. The second three months you're not on production, but you don't get draft reviews anymore and you don't have class.

In reality though, the class portion of boot camp is only like a month long, and even then, towards the end, class doesn't take up the whole day.

There's no room to negotiate salary. We have attorneys who were GS-12s or 13s from other agencies who came here for the 14 potential. Everyone starts off at GS-11 step 1. Prior feds get retirement points and they get to roll over their vacation/sick time, that's it.

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 19, 2017 - 12:25 pm)

Thanks for answering. I appreciate your response!

Are you content as a BVA attorney or are you seeking a way out as well? Among your colleagues, do ANY like the job?

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threedham (Dec 19, 2017 - 1:16 pm)

No problem. Speaking for myself, I dislike the job. Management here is toxic and I don't feel secure. Most of the training staff was nice and helpful, but as soon as boot camp ended, you're basically at the mercy of your judges. The quota feels totally unattainable, and I'm genuinely concerned about either (a) not being able to do 3.2 cases per week, or (b) working insane hours past what I'm willing to deal with in a government job in order to meet expectations. I'm actively interviewing for other jobs in the hopes that I can get out before production kicks in for me. I turned down other jobs in my field back home (several hours away) to take this one because I thought it'd be a relatively low stress, secure job in the federal government. Neither turned out to be true, so I sort of regret my decision. That said, I have a couple exit options, and once I get offers, I'm going to seriously weigh jumping ship.

The new classes' morale seems split; some you can tell are really sad, others are kinda just dealing with it. Some people are taking the attitude of "keep your head down and do the work, no matter how bad it seems here." This seems to be the big consensus among the former SSA people, who had it somewhat the same over there. Others you can tell are very unhappy. We've been dressed down as a full class a few times now for nonsense, and it was our first intro to the toxic culture among the supervisors here. The overall feeling here is that everyone is out for themselves - judges, junior attorneys, senior attorneys, and management. Junior attorneys are easily replaceable, and the new hiring wave signifies to me that they're happy to replace a lot of us if need be.

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esquire2014 (Dec 19, 2017 - 5:27 pm)

Prior fed govt employees were able to negotiate a higher step on the GS 11 level. For example, some former GS12s are GS11, step 7 at the Board. If offered a position, negotiate your step.

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esquire2014 (Dec 19, 2017 - 5:29 pm)

Prior fed govt employees were able to negotiate a higher step on the GS 11 level. For example, some former GS12s are GS11, step 7 at the Board. If offered a position, negotiate your step.

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john09 (Dec 19, 2017 - 6:24 pm)

Apparently, BVA is willing to negotiate a step increase with only SSA employees as the position at BVA is similar to the SSA AA position. All other federal employees start at step one.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 6:30 am)

Hi, I am a recent board hire and asked one of the more senior attorneys i have met about the interviews. I guess they closed the announcement early because they had gotten 500 or so applicants and thought that was enough. I was told that in the past they try to interview at least 50 percent more than they need to hire, but I don’t know how accurate that is. I know that interviews are still going on, my judge was on a panel yesterday. I don’t know if they wait to make final offers until all interviewing is done or make them on a rolling basis. In talking to my judge, if someone is asked to come back for the writing test, that means they were a “yes” during the interview and it will then depend on how they do on the writing test.

Sorry, I am sure this doesn’t help a ton, but that is all I know. I am happy to try to get more info and will post again if so.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 19, 2017 - 12:09 pm)

writing test is confirmed (if you make it far enough, you will be asked to do a writing test

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 19, 2017 - 12:19 pm)

Is this speed/accuracy or a legal analysis type of writing test?

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 19, 2017 - 1:01 pm)

I am not quite sure.

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somefed (Dec 19, 2017 - 1:26 pm)

I believe it would be a timed exercise involving the application of veterans law to a fact pattern. Basically a simulation of what Board attorneys do every day.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 19, 2017 - 1:50 pm)

How would I know Veterans law?

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somefed (Dec 19, 2017 - 2:03 pm)

You do not have to know the law. They give you some laws with the exercise as a basis for the analysis. Then you apply them to the hypo in your answer.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 19, 2017 - 2:26 pm)

If it’s like a law school exam it tests application of law to facts, not writing. You write horribly in law school exams due to the pressures .

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jinomas (Dec 19, 2017 - 8:28 pm)

Did anyone ask about a timeline for the next steps?

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 19, 2017 - 8:46 pm)

the writing tests are going on this week. I think they want to try to start folks in january early february but not sure when offers will go out

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jinomas (Dec 19, 2017 - 8:48 pm)

Is that an online thing?

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 19, 2017 - 8:56 pm)

the test? i think you have to go down to the va building to take the test

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 19, 2017 - 9:10 pm)

Curious how they can start people that quickly given the public trust background check takes at least 8 weeks.

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 19, 2017 - 10:36 pm)

From my what my friend said, they know it is a short turnaround, but expect to start people at the end of January. In past experience, I started a fed job before the completion of the background check and just received my official badge later. They may be starting people and those who fail the background check would be let go. Just my opinion so it may vary.

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burneremail (Dec 19, 2017 - 11:57 pm)

Because a public trust is the easiest thing ever to get. Everyone will get an interim clearance. After calls are made and interviews are done the background check will be finalized. Takes about 4-8 months for a public trust.

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threedham (Dec 19, 2017 - 9:58 pm)

I’d be shocked if they moved that fast. I was in one of the classes that started this past year. Our interviews were in May, with tentative offers in late June, and final offers with start dates ranging from late July to early September.

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 19, 2017 - 10:34 pm)

Had a friend to interview and they expect people to start end of January and then on a monthly basis through March.

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john09 (Dec 19, 2017 - 11:22 pm)

If any of you are relocating to DC for the BVA position, think twice about signing a one year apartment lease as the Board fires a lot of attorneys in their first year. You may have to cough up your savings if you get fired or breach the terms of your lease.

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 19, 2017 - 11:29 pm)

I noticed you have been keeping up with the VA posts. Do you plan on leaving SSA or are you intending on going to the VA at some point?

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 11:06 am)

@hopeful

I'm actually active on many threads and have been a member of JDU for a long time. At some point in the future, I plan on leaving SSA, but not at this time. I probably won't be transferring to BVA any time soon unless the new Chairman improves morale at the Board. I value my health and quality of life much more than a GS-14 salary.

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threedham (Dec 20, 2017 - 8:18 am)

Just as an FYI, a lot of Maryland and D.C. leases have an unexpected job loss clause that will let you rescind your lease if you get fired or otherwise become unemployed all of a sudden.

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:02 am)

Define "a lot" because my colleagues and friends in the D.C. area don't have this provision in their leases. Also, even if this provision is in a lease, I would imagine that such a provision would only apply to involuntary layoffs not terminations for cause. Either way, this is something that prospective BVA employees should consider and verify in advance. Otherwise, the financial implications could be huge.

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threedham (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:34 am)

I agree, people should totally think very hard about relocating for this job. I just looked at my own lease's job loss clause, and it does indeed apply to "involuntary" loss of jobs, but also has an escape valve for "other reasonable circumstances." So it could be the kinda thing where you work out an agreement with the landlord.

Not saying you should rely on that, but that's what I've known friends have done when they've had to move suddenly. There are also a lot of 6-month lease options in the D.C. area, especially for studios, so if you're nervous about the job and the move, you could do that.

Even still, D.C. is a robust legal job market, even if you're looking for JD-advantage positions or lawyer jobs that don't require D.C./Md./Va bar admission. I've only been looking for exit options since early November and I've had a lot of options compared to my home legal market.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:38 am)

If your only other work has been doc review then you are going to have a very hard time getting anything else in the dc area

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downwardslope (Dec 20, 2017 - 10:09 am)

It is a pretty good market. I have a friend who had a term job and was not licensed locally. She was able to get a super cushy JD preferred job in about 1-2 months a couple of years ago. Her term job was also JD preferred.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 20, 2017 - 10:14 am)

She wasn’t s doc reviewer obviously. I’m
Referring to people who had no other legal experience before going to the BVA. Do you think if these people could get other jobs they’d be applying to the bva knowing how horrible it is?

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threedham (Dec 20, 2017 - 10:40 am)

Speaking for myself as a recent law school graduate not from the D.C. area, I wasn't aware of BVA's reputation when I applied and interviewed. Had I known then what I know now, I would've taken other offers. I was certainly cognizant of the production system, but was under the general impression that it was relatively simple to meet.

Among the new people, I think there are folks that fall into categories:

(1) Generally young recent grads who came from outside D.C. or from D.C. law schools who just wanted a federal job and didn't know BVA's reputation - I'd fall into that category.

(2) People who are career federal lawyers with 5-10 years at another agency who came to BVA for the GS-14 potential despite knowing the risks - most are from SSA, but others came from smaller agencies in other "non-prestige" fed positions.

(3) Mid or late-career lawyers from the greater D.C. area who left private practice because they wanted better hours and maybe didn't know about all the unpaid overtime/production requirements.

I don't see any unemployable multi-decade doc reviewers here. Almost everyone falls into one of the three categories above.

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toosexyformygrade (Dec 20, 2017 - 10:55 am)

How many hours beyond 40 would you say most people have to work to meet production?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 20, 2017 - 11:07 am)

Ive heard it takes an average of 15-20 hours per case so that means for 3.5 cases per week means a range of 52-70 hours if you want to make quota

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threedham (Dec 20, 2017 - 11:17 am)

I'm not on production yet, but having spoken to those who are, it's not unusual for people to work evenings and come in on the weekends. Which is why the union is so PO'd about the unpaid overtime issue. Speaking for myself, I'm performing well according to my judges and I get like 2-3 cases signed per week, which isn't gonna be enough once I hit production. 3 per week is tough, especially if you get a multi-issue case or a case with voluminous documents. 4 seems absurd to me right now. keep in mind, attorneys who were put on production and fell behind by 3 cases within months of going on production have been fired or urged to resign recently. So yeah, it's a scary prospect.

The main issue is that under the old production standards, only something like 40% of the attorneys could do a prorated 169 cases (the new minimum). So someone last year who would've been rated as "exceptional" (i.e. a top performer) could be fired if they performed identically this year. And 60% of attorneys last year would not have even met the standard. A big issue is that some judges haven't adjusted their standards for signing cases, so some attorneys are stuck writing long drafts with extraneous legal rationales for demanding judges, whereas other judges will gladly accept three-page grants or remands that take a half hour to write.

We had an open Q&A with the new chairman of the Board yesterday and an attorney on production asked about this issue. She basically shrugged and said tough stuff, standards are up because we have a backlog. Then the head of the union spoke and railed against the production standards - with the chairman right there - and got a round of applause. The Board management is aware of the low morale of the attorneys here, I just don't think they care. They are happy to churn through large swaths of each hiring class if it means they get a certain percentage of attorneys who will hit production and work unpaid overtime to do so (if need be).

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toosexyformygrade (Dec 20, 2017 - 2:35 pm)

Very interesting, thank you.

Have you seen improvement in your production? I saw that you started there over the summer and you're now close to the 3.2 mark, do you not anticipate to continue getting faster as you get to know your judge(s) and what they're looking for?

Do newer employees have much interaction with more senior attorneys who have been there for a while and don't have difficulties with production? Or are they all teleworking?

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threedham (Dec 20, 2017 - 3:30 pm)

I've improved but I'm still concerned about being marginal for much of the year. The prospect of being on pace for the year is still really stressful, because all it takes is one or two complex cases at the end of the year to throw you off. The judges are helpful, but as I said, it sort of depends. Some judges give tons of feedback and clear guidance on what they like to see. Others aren't, and they play numbers games with when they sign cases and when they hand stuff back to you for revisions.

Newer attorneys get access to full-time mentors to review their drafts and answer questions for the first three months. After that time ends, we're more or less cut off from them. After that, we're encouraged to talk to senior counsel and judges.

Yes, more senior counsel are having difficulty. Remember, only 40% of the Board did the number of decisions last year that is the new bare minimum. So people are on overdrive trying to not get fired. Is that good for the Board's mission? Probably. But a lot of people are gonna jump ship due to the environment, and others are gonna get fired.

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jinomas (Dec 20, 2017 - 8:09 pm)

Which part do you think is slowing you down? Is it the record review? Researching new issues? The writing?

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sunset7 (Dec 20, 2017 - 8:28 pm)

I am also a new summer hire at the Board (which is what the Chairman apparently wants us to become known as). I have had no problems with the numbers. This area of law is hard, but understandable with time. I find it amusing that the people who complain about the numbers here are mostly doing so in the middle of the work day when they should be working on your numbers.

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 8:42 pm)

I'm a bit confused. Why should they (the attorneys who complain) be working on your numbers? Who are you referring to?

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sunset7 (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:50 pm)

Haha, that was a typo. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. What I meant to express is that Board employees who are posting here several times a day (during working hours) would be much better served if they were working on helping Veterans and doing their cases, rather than complaining about a number that they don’t even have to reach yet (Board production doesn’t start till 6 months). I have tried to focus on learning how to do this well, while I am given that opportunity. It seems counterintuitive to me to complain about how the quota is untainable, while (1) you spend so much time posting here, and not doing your job, and (2) if you actually started in September, you have never actually had to meet that quota, so cannot speak to its feasibility.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:07 am)

I always figured most leases are month to month

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 8:43 pm)

The leases on Craiglist tend to be month to month.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 5:57 pm)

I'm a new attorney at the Board and I write for a pretty tough judge. I actually like it a lot. I've been submitting 3-4 cases a week. I haven't had any rewrites and that has helped me to stay on track. Also, I have about 3-4 other attorneys that I can ask for guidance because they have experience writing for my judge. I'm very focused at work and I only take a 30 min. lunch and a few breaks so I actually put in about 7.5 hours of research and writing. No overtime though and that's how I plan on keeping it!

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 20, 2017 - 6:07 pm)

If you don't mind me asking, what was your background prior to the board? Glad to know everyone doesn't hate the job.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 6:11 pm)

This is my first legal job. I'm only a few years out of law school. Everyone doesn't hate it. It's hard work, but it's a great opportunity.

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 6:26 pm)

Well, the judges at the Board have different standards. Wait till you get moved to a different judge who wants ultra detailed decisions and hands out low scores for minor revisions. People who have judges like that hate their jobs - I know many of them.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:03 pm)

But doesn't only making quota matter? Or they won't approve it until it's perfect for the judge and thus you don't make quota?

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:05 pm)

It depends on the judge. Some judges will make you revise a decision multiple times until it is perfect. Other judges will revise an entire decision by themselves and assess a high score. Your success is dependent on a single person. That's why BVA attorneys hate the Board - attorneys get treated differently and your success is not based on your merits, but the good graces of the judge.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 6:35 pm)

My judge is very detailed and my decisions are pretty long. I look forward to writing for different judges and becoming an expert in Veteran's Law. I love challenges.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 6:37 pm)

OH, we had efficiency training with a top producer at the Board! He produced 300+ decisions his first year and over 200 his second year! I use some of his methods and they actually work!

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:01 pm)

My wife works at the Board. She knows the top producer you are referring to (Josh C.). Check out how many decisions Josh has on Research Tools - it is no where close to 200 decisions a year.

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somefed (Dec 20, 2017 - 6:48 pm)

You are lucky with the judge you have, and that is great. It is nice that you are excited about your job. You have to realize that it is luck of the draw depending on what judge you get. After you have worked for several judges, you will have a better understanding of the negativity expressed by some others. I must question the idea of a Board atty producing 300 decisions in one year. Are you a troll?

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:01 pm)

I'm just not a negative person. I've been trained to make the best of any situation. Even if you get a more difficult Judge, it will be temporary. I believe the new Chairman stated that she worked for 25 different judges in a 6 or 7 year period. Can't remember the exact number of years.

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:02 pm)

True, but that single judge who hates you can get you fired by not signing your cases.

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lawyerinthecity (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:26 pm)

John, you are wayyyy too into bad-mouthing BVA to not be speaking from personal experience. I don't think your "wife" works here. That would be weird. I can't imagine spending time on a discussion post about my husband's employer. Do you or don't you work with us? And what really happened to make you so negative about it?

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somefed (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:08 pm)

It is easy to say you can make the best of it if you are not in the bad situation. You show a lack of empathy for people who are struggling with real problems. Come back and post an update when you are on your fifth or tenth judge.

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downwardslope (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:18 pm)

I can somewhat see both sides. I am at SSA now, but my last job involved initial decision review for a state agency before the decisions were mailed. There were some people’s decisions who were sent back repeatedly because they were awful. And you know what, those people complained bitterly. They said I was awful, unfair, blah blah blah. We were instructed that if minor changes could be made, to do that ourselves. These were so bad that they could not be made. I saw a huge array of skills in reviewing decisions from different people. Some people were just incredible. Others just made a couple of minor mistakes. Some did poorly initially, but with some training and a period of send-backs did well, and there were maybe 1-2 who never improved. I didn’t get to assess a score (that would have been awesome if I could), but I just didn’t get why a few people didn’t improve.

The argument for making a person revise until perfect is that hopefully they learn how to make a perfect decision and will do better next time. If they never have anything sent back, they never learn what they did wrong and won’t improve.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:24 pm)

Yes, it's a part of learning/training. I haven't had a rewrite, but I use the compare tool in Microsoft to track the changes on the decision my judge signed. The judge makes a lot of changes and gives me feedback in DAS (our system). It's all training.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 20, 2017 - 8:00 pm)

Curious what do the judges do?

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 8:52 pm)

That's the thing esquire2014, some judges give attorneys low scores if they need to make any changes. While your judge makes a lot of changes to your work, he or she is presumably not giving you low scores. Other judges, however, would give you a low score or make you revise it. My wife knows this firsthand. My wife was fortunate enough to survive an asshole judge - not all of her colleagues were as lucky.

Also, there is a difference between tough judges and asshole judges. Tough judges want detailed decisions, but they won't try to make you fail. Asshole judges want to make attorneys fail in order to make themselves look good. Your success or failure depends not on your abilities, but your luck in getting assigned to a good judge.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:22 pm)

Oh ok! I thought you worked there and were speaking from personal experience.

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sunset7 (Dec 20, 2017 - 10:31 pm)

Hahaha, you don’t even work at the Board!!! Thanks for all your valuable insight!

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 11:08 pm)

If you think anything in my comment is factually incorrect, feel free to correct me.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:58 pm)

Sure, no problem.

Yes there are tough judges. When it comes down to performance appraisals or retention decisions, is an attorney judged against all of their peers? No. Their performance is assessed in comparison to the other attorneys that write for that judge. How do I know this??? I simply asked in my first meeting with my chief judge.

Board attorneys are judged against those similarly situated. If your wife was doing poorly, that means she was doing poorly in relation to 8 other people.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:08 pm)

I don't troll, it's a waste of my time. That's his name. He did our efficiency training about a month ago. I wrote down those numbers because I was surprised too!

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:10 pm)

Like I said, check out Research Tools and see how many decisions Josh has on there. It's no where close to 200, much less 300.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:15 pm)

I'll look tomorrow. I'll check the last 3-4 years because I think that's how long he's been at the Board.

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:12 pm)

I've actually been in pretty bad situations, but I don't dwell on them. I keep it moving. Anyway, good luck to all of the future BVA attorneys! Today, the vice chairman said the board will hire at least 150. She gave us 3 gifts: take feedback, FOCUS, and take direction! Stay positive folks and happy holidays!

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 7:14 pm)

Is that you whynot?

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lawyerinthecity (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:35 pm)

Hi, all! I have been at BVA since this summer, and am surprised to hear such sadness and negativity from some of the posters here. We actually must be working in the same room at BVA, but I have been having the opposite experience. I am feeling fine with the quota. BUT I am always taking advantage of the resources they give us. After the first three months, you don't turn in drafts to mentors, but I can't think of a single day since my initial three month period ended that I wasn't in contact with my mentor, special counsel, or judge with questions about a case. I think that's actually the key to efficiency here. If you sense that you are spending too much time on an issue because you don't understand it, you should be reaching out for help. There are so many people here who have seen it before and know it well, that it's completely inefficient to try and reinvent the wheel. I have never reached out for guidance and had anyone not be willing and able to help, and I'm well past my first three months. If I'm just lucky and got assigned awesome help and you did not and have made efforts but not had the same experience, please message me and I will do what I can to help you. I'm genuinely sorry to hear about people here struggling. I want us all to do well, and I really do think it's doable. You just can't be shy at all about being in the dark on things and asking for help. It will cut your time down immensely in adjudicating cases. If any current BVA employees would like to get together and discuss ways to be more efficient, please reach out. We should all be helping each other to succeed. That's the vibe I have gotten here and I think it's incredibly sad and unnecessary for anyone to feel differently! Let's help each other.

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john09 (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:41 pm)

Okay Madam Chairman!

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lawyerinthecity (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:55 pm)

Haha! Definitely not a Chairman. And completely willing to meet with people and try to help others in our room. I'm also not alone in thinking it can be done. All the people I know personally who have been here longer than I have are making the new quota work. This is not a competitive position. We can all succeed and there is no reason to not try to help each other. I would love to share notes, boilerplate, efficiency tips, etc. It doesn't have to be an "us" vs "them" mentality.

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:57 pm)

If hired, I hope that offer stands.

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lawyerinthecity (Dec 20, 2017 - 10:10 pm)

100%.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 12:02 am)

Again, your posts are hilarious. How dare someone enjoy their job!!!

You think the new chairman cares at all about this website or these threads? I post here and am not even that delusional. But that is adorable!

Keep your faith in the system...I guess...

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esquire2014 (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:48 pm)

Thanks for your input! It's good to see more positivity on here!

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bigboom (Dec 21, 2017 - 7:22 am)

Honestly I was interested in the job and thought alot of these people were just on the lazy and or complainers side. But I am really questioning now. The recent commenters seem to be patsies sent to do damage control. Their wording style seems to be more of a long term manager type. Make the best of every situation and help each other out to make perfect decisions is not the syntax style of new attorney's

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downwardslope (Dec 21, 2017 - 7:33 am)

If by “syntax style” you mean an attorney saying that it’s our job to make the decisions, then I agree. There is some post in here where sunset is going on about how attorneys are paid to make the decisions, when everyone who went to law school knows that attorneys are paid to advise a client. There are many cases where you have an atrocious client who refuses to listen to you. At the the BVA and SSA, the judges are the clients, and if they don’t like the decisions, they will make your life difficult.

It’s also awfully suspicious that suddenly there are 3-4 people all at once talking about how great it is without acknowledging that some judges are going to make your life miserable.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 7:04 pm)

First off - sorry for my rude posts last night. Note to self, jdunderground + too much wine is not good. I was a bit embarrassed when I saw my posts today. I started at the Board a few months ago and I do enjoy the work, but that isn’t to say it isn’t difficult. I am happy to answer any questions or provide some insight into the job if anyone has any questions. I am also more than willing to ask my mentor or judges questions and report back!

At the Board, it is the attorney’s job to make the decision in the case, the attorneys will decide if the case is a grant, denial, or remand. The attorneys are the ones looking in depth at the file and evidence, judges don’t have time to do more than a cursory review to check that the attorney didn’t miss something relevant, then the decision gets signed and the judge moves on to the next. Judges will give attorneys rewrites/revisions, I have gotten a few so far, but it hasn’t been anything major (yet).

This job is a lot like a clerkship, at least that is what it is most comparable too. Obviously, the production requirements make it more stressful. A few people that started with me came directly from clerkships and they are doing really well. I did doc review for 2.5 years before this job and the writing element was a bit of an adjustment at first.

What we are taught in training is that the Veteran, and to a lesser extent the court above us, are our audience. Obviously, it is all a matter of perspective and a Board attorney is really writing for their judge. I was assigned to 2 judges and I am starting to understand their individual preferences. Some people are assigned to 1 judge, some to 2 or 3, I guess it depends on how the supervisor has set up their “team.”

At the meeting with the new Chairman the other day, she mentioned her plan to start streamlining decisions to make it easier/faster. It remains to be seen what she means by that, but I asked one of the mentors and he mentioned that a new template for decisions is being created that should make the writing process quicker. I am not sure how much impact that will make, most of my time is spent on file review, but I have noticed I am going quicker with that as I get more experience. I start production in about 1.5 months and I feel comfortable with how much I am producing. I do acknowledge that as I start getting more difficult cases that might change.

Again, sorry about being a douche and I am happy to answer questions if people have them.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 7:10 pm)

Just FYI, I am not doing damage control, GS11 isn’t enough money for that! I don’t know about the other posters, but there has been a fair amount of discussion about this thread in the space we all share. I know other people have been checking it out. I honestly had never heard of it before someone mentioned it to me a couple of weeks ago. For myself, I just want to offer a different point of view for anyone interested.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 7:49 pm)

Oh I see, so it was just a coincidence that three or four posters decided to say great things about the Board within hours of each other? Wow, you must be so lucky to work at the Board given how friendly and amazing everyone is - lawyerinthecity wants to help all the new people succeed, esquire2014 loves challenges and makes the best of everything.

FYI - Management fired a new attorney this morning 12/21 prior to his first year mark. My wife was personally shaken by the event after she heard how that attorney had been treated. Although that attorney was severely mistreated by his judge (who has a known history of abusing people), management refused to move him to another judge. Instead of helping the attorney, management repeatedly belittled and criticized the attorney without taking into consideration the judge's behavior. Then, they fired him a few days before Christmas.

Folks, this is how management at BVA works. They use fear and intimidation to control employees. Not all managers and judges are like that of course, but, if you get a terrible manager or judge, your life will be miserable AND you will have to deal with the high production standards. There are a lot of terrible managers and judges at the Board so that your chances of getting assigned to a sadistic supervisor is quite high. Run away while you still can.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:13 pm)

I am sorry that your wife was “shaken,” how awful for her, good thing she is still employed. I was actually good friends with the guy you are referring to, I know the actual facts of the situation, which are none of your business. People will always make up their own facts and spread rumors. That is constant at the Board, much like this thread.

As I mentioned, this thread has been discussed A LOT amongst the new attorneys. It was only a matter of time before people who actually like the job started contradicting those who have never done the job.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:24 pm)

Well, if you know the guy, he should have told you about how one of the deputy vice chairman treated him when he asked to be transferred to a new judge. I like how you try to avoid the underlying facts with the "none of your business" line.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:31 pm)

I know all about that.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:34 pm)

If I have written anything false or incorrect about the attorney who was fired today, please correct me. Otherwise, don't accuse me of making up facts and spreading rumors.

There are new attorneys at the Board who like their jobs. However, those who like their jobs have probably never experienced life under a terrible judge or chief. You aren't on production and have been on the job for less than six months. I know firsthand how terrible the Board can be from talking to my wife and my former SSA colleagues.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:45 pm)

It is not my place to discuss the details of someone else’s personal experience. He is a good guy and he worked hard, but the job wasn’t the job for him. He knew that, we talked a lot. Today came as no surprise to him, he was actually surprised it hadn’t happened sooner.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:30 pm)

Also keep in mind that nearly 100 BVA attorneys signed the loss of confidence statement to Congress AND the union has retained a law firm to arbitrate the overtime grievance.

Look, in every workplace there will be people who like the working conditions and others who don't. All I'm saying is that people should be mindful of the risk they are taking. If you get a good supervisor/judge, you likely have a good chance of succeeding at the Board if you try hard and put in the long hours. There are many terrible chiefs and judges at the Board that the risk may not be worth taking for those with stable jobs.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:42 pm)

Also keep in mind that congress confirmed a Chairman who was a subject of that loss of confidence statement (that they received). If you think it made any difference, you are crazy. I have worked here for barely 5 months and it was clear to me very quickly that the union leadership is not great. Very abrasive and rude, there are allegations of mismanagement of funds, I know people who have joined the union solely so they can vote current union leaders out of office in the next election. Board attorneys are excepted service, so if they work outside their hours and the OT wasn’t authorized, that is on them. It is awful, I was shocked to learn this. I came to DC from a state that is very worker friendly, I have a hard time making sense of the OT issue, but excepted service is excepted service.

I agree with you, every job has its good and bad. Your wife might work at the Board, but her perspective is not the only perspective. If people really want to work in public service, the Board is a great place. Use it as a starting point to move to something better or stay at the Board for decades. Everyone has a different experience. I am trying to share mine.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:54 pm)

But if unless you are a superman decision writer, it appears you need to work a lot longer then 40 hours a week to meet quota. I guess the reason they get so many people to take the risk is that there are so many desperate lawyers out there, willing to take the risk, or not aware that being fired from a federal job means you will never get a federal job again, and likely no state or local job, because they'll ask the same questions too. I'm not expected a cushy job where I can goof off all day, take 2 hour lunches every day, I'm prepared to work long and hard, but when you hear about people there for decades, fired for not making quota, it just makes me think about the office my dad worked in in the federal government, an EEOCR thing, where he was the only person doing any work. The other attorney spot was some guy who never could pass the bar and was UPL because he wasn't a member of a bar, yet they didn't care, just ignored it. The only work my dad could have his interns do was to sort paper clips..

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downwardslope (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:09 pm)

If you come from a state or local job, they might very well take you back there again. You are making a lot of assumptions, particularly since the VA doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation. If an agency is in the news all the time for being completely dysfunctional, being fired from said organization isn’t always going to be seen as a career destroyer. I worked for one place with a state that literally fired people right and left, but most of those people managed to land on their feet after getting fired and still got another state job. The Agency was pretty much up there on the reputation scale at the VA level and everyone else knew... it is just bad there.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:23 pm)

After reading some of the comments here, I actually asked my mentor today about what happens when someone resigns in lieu of termination. I had heard that it is reflected on the SF50 in those terms. I don’t know if this is true, but my mentor is pretty up front with things and I don’t think they would lie...with the VA accountability act, someone who is terminated has 7 days to appeal. If they voluntarily resign within those 7 days, they get “clean papers” and their SF50 shows it was a resignation. If they wait till day 8, the papers reflect terminated or resigned in lieu of. It seems ridiculous to me, but this accountability act is a bit nuts.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:16 pm)

First, Congress does not care about internal employee complaints.

Second, if you read the loss of confidence statement, you will see that it does not specifically name the Chairman. The Chairman promised the senators that she would reduce the backlog and that is why they confirmed her.

Third, I'm not aware of any allegations of mismanagement of funds by AFGE 17. Yes, the Washington Post accused the national AFGE organization of mismanagement and corruption, but not AFGE 17 (who represents Board employee).

Fourth, even if the union's overtime grievance has no legal merit, you are overlooking the underlying issue that so many Board attorneys have to work unpaid overtime to meet the quotas.

Fifth, you keep on making unfounded accusations (people joining the union to vote out the union leaders). How do you know? The union may not be great from a management perspective because the union keeps on winning at arbitration. Below is a recent arbitration decision that the union won. If I were a manager, I would hate the union too.

https://www.flra.gov/decisions/v68/68-29.html

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:27 pm)

Unfounded accusations? Are you kidding? I work at the Board. Who better to make such “accusations?” I know which union represents the Board and myself, thanks though. I don’t care what the Washington Post says, you are referring to MY union. You claim to work for SSA, so why would you know anything about the Board’s relationship with our union? How do I know people are joining the union with the purpose of voting out current leadership? They have told me so themselves, they also don’t balk at the $100 “signing bonus” new members are given. What government employee wouldn’t tak a free $100?

Nothing is a secret at the Board. Two days ago there was a union meeting that I attended. When it was over, I walked out of the room with a more senior attorney and 2 union stewards who were discussing the mismanagement of funds and improper behavior by the union president, Doug Massey. It is also common knowledge at the Board that the current union president (Doug Massey) physically fought the former union president at a union conference in Florida a few years ago. They were both arrested. This same union president has told a friend of mine that he hopes he never leaves the union because he doesn’t even remember how to write a decision, he has been with the union and away from the Board that long. I am 100 percent pro union, such a socialist I am almost a communist. I simply have a problem with the people in charge of my union.

I never once disputed the fact that there are difficult judges at the Board. I never once said that attorneys at the Board didn’t work unpaid overtime to meet their numbers. I don’t speak to the experiences of others. I speak to my own. I have not worked over 40 hours a week since I started this job. I am currently producing 3-4 decisions a week, within those 40 hours. Honestly, not even 40 hours. I have no problem admitting that I take more than 30 minutes for lunch and spend at least an hour a day gossiping with friends (who are also doing fine), but I am still able to produce what I need to produce.

I have read the loss of confidence statement. I was on union emails discussing it. I went to a meeting very shortly after I started and had the opportunity to sign it. I have SEEN the signatures and know several people who did sign it. 100 people in an office of 1000 is no big feat. If congress doesn’t care about the loss of confidence statement, which a majority of Board employees know contained patently false statements, who do you think will care?

You keep insinuating that I am a “manager” and how I wish that were true, my family could more than use the money. Unfortunately, you are sorely misguided if you think any member of Board leadership gives a F**** about what is happening on this thread.

@john09, I honestly don’t know what your end game is here? You claim to not work for the Board, but you think you know everything about it? Why do you care this much?

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skevin649 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:39 pm)

Was the attorney a minority or gay? I’m concerned about board culture. If I take the job and am openly gay, would a judge try to get me fired or give me a hard time?

https://www.disabledveterans.org/2017/12/20/veterans-law-judges-removed-forum-hate-racist-kkk-homophobic-slurs/

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:45 pm)

The attorney who was fired today is a black man. Your experience at the Board depends on who you are assigned to.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:49 pm)

The Board is very diverse. The judges in that article are not the norm for the Board. Everyone I have talked about it are beyond relieved that there terminations were upheld by the MSBP.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:56 pm)

Again, you can't make broad statements like that without personally knowing each judge and supervisor. Yes, most judges and chiefs at the Board are fine. But, you are not even acknowledging that there are a number of judges and chiefs who have reputations for mistreating people. People who join the Board must be willing take the risk that they may be assigned to a terrible judge or chief.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:12 pm)

What do you mean “broad” statements? That the Board is diverse? That is 100 percent true, a fact. I can’t imagine that even your wife would say that isn’t true. The Board is over 50% female, with most leadership positions occupied by women and/or people of color. I was not here for the “incident” described in the article, but it is clear that now there is a zero tolerance policy for that kind of behavior, maybe in response to that situation.

I have not once said that there are not difficult judges at the Board. Of course there are. I have friends that write for some of them. But they are in the minority, not the majority. The idea that one person can make or break your career at the Board, based on what I have learned from senior attorneys, is simply not true. You judge isn’t your supervisor, they only have so much sway. The people that I know who have been terminated, including the guy today, were let go for real, valid reasons. Not just because their judge didn’t like them.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:28 pm)

I'm talking about your tendency to take a rosy view of the judges. At least you are now acknowledging, for the first time, that there are difficult judges at the Board.

First of all, when I said that one person can make or break your career, I mean that management almost always refuses to allow an attorney to write for another judge if he or she is having problems with a judge.

*Some* chiefs will transfer attorneys to another judge, but not all. If you get stuck with a chief who refuses to transfer an attorney to a new judge, you have no recourse since senior management won't intervene. Now, your chief may let you write for one or more judges, but keep in mind, not all chiefs are like that.

Also, the guy who got fired today tried to get reassigned to another judge, but the deputy vice chairman denied his request. Yes, he got fired for quality reasons, but his judge is known to be super strict and highly critical of attorneys. If was unable to succeed with that judge, why didn't management let him write for another judge. His success or failure shouldn't be dependent on the opinions of that one person.

Like I said multiple times previously, not all judges and chiefs are terrible, but some are. Don't believe everything your senior counsel tells you. Do you honestly think they will criticize management in front of you?

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:42 pm)

Again, you have no idea what you are talking about. I obviously cannot say that enough. My mentor wrote for the same judge you are referring to with regard to the guy who got fired today. Yes the judge is known to be “difficult,” but my impression (even from the guy who was fired) is that the judge has high expectations and doesn’t settle for subpar work. You have no idea what happened when he asked to be moved...I talked to him moments afterward. You have no idea what happened when he was told he would not be moved...he and I immediately went to coffee to discuss it afterward.

Please stop talking about someone who isn’t here to tell their story. If you have a problem with me, talk about me. I am sure I deserve it.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:59 pm)

You're right, some judges want top notch decisions. Keep in mind, however, that attorneys at the Board are required to write decisions that are legally sufficient. The decisions don't have to be perfect.

MOST judges at the Board understand that. They understand that if the Board wants attorneys to do 3 or 4 cases a week, their work won't be perfect and will contain mistakes. Other judges, however, don't understand that concept. Do attorneys who get assigned to a perfectionist judge deserve to receive scores that lower than attorneys with more reasonable judges? Do these attorneys deserve to get fired? I think not.

Prospective employees should be aware that there are no set quality standards at the Board. Some judges want ultra long decisions and others will settle for decisions that are one third as long. Yet, management expects all attorneys to do the same number of decisions. As I have said numerous times, your success or failure depends on who you are assigned to.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:38 pm)

I feel like you don’t believe I work at the Board. All of these things you are saying, do you think I don’t know the truth about what working for the Board is like?

I don’t believe you about you wife working at the Board, you are talking about your own experience. Were you fired fo not being able to do the job? Or maybe you are bitter because you have never been selected for an interview.

I also looked up the numbers for the attorney who provided our efficiency training, in research tools as you with no board experience suggested. He did 422 decisions in the last 2 years. Turns out, he was telling the truth.

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jinomas (Dec 20, 2017 - 9:49 pm)

Which part do you think is slowing you down? Is it the record review? Researching new issues? The writing?

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lawyerinthecity (Dec 20, 2017 - 10:10 pm)

For me, the most time-intensive part of the process is pulling the evidence I need from the file because sometimes you have to state every little detail from a VA examination report. I actually don't think researching new issues is that bad because we have so much to pull from. It's not like you have to learn an entire new realm of statutes and case law with every new issue you come across. You only have to find the most recent way your judge treated that issue and do the same. You even use the same language for the law. And if my judge hasn't dealt with the issue, I make a phone call and ask my judge what he/she thinks. For example, the other day I had my first IR migraines issue. I found plenty of recent decisions by my judge on the issue, but nothing clearly showed me how he/she would determine whether "prostrating episodes" were present, which was a requirement of the next highest rating. So, instead of spending an hour reading everything I could find by other judges and whatnot, I called him/her and had my answer in under 5 minutes. We also have software where you can specify what issue you have, whether you want to see denials, remands, or grants, and specify your judge, and it gives you everything on it that your judge has done in the past year. I always start there with a new issue.

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bigboom (Dec 21, 2017 - 7:24 am)

Any more information about the writing test. Are all interviewees being asked and what is it. Sounds very odd.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:31 am)

timed writing test-draft a legal analysis in 45 minutes with no errors (law and facts provided). I don't know how they grade it, though (e.g., compare writing samples between applicants, one applicant covered more in the analysis, etc.) basically like taking a law school exam

Also, I am aware of numerous people who took the test for this job posting, so I think it is a requirement

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asdfghjkl (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:02 am)

Just had my interview, crossing fingers for an offer. I asked about the hiring process and the interviewers did not mention a writing test. A couple friends who were hired 3 months or so ago said they didn't have to do one, but a couple candidates who interviewed around the same time as I did said they were told to expect one. So either the interviewer is subconsciously hinting that I didn't pass this round, or different panels are telling people different things.

With that said, anyone heard back from them yet? I'm going to try to enjoy the holidays without going crazy worrying over this...

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:42 am)

from what I am hearing, they want people started by february (with the holidays, I suspect offers go out early January sometime

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bigboom (Dec 21, 2017 - 11:44 am)

I've heard conflicting reports about the writing as well. I had my interview a few days and have not heard about the writing test . Someone else said they called them to do the writing. I'm hoping they just haven't contacted me yet but I'm on the fence so no big deal. Not sure why they don't just ask for a writing sample and call my boss. I don't like the idea of reliving law school.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 21, 2017 - 12:18 pm)

it's a proctored writing test (maybe they want to make sure people can write in a timed environment/make sure the writing sample is not from someone else

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 12:20 pm)

Handwritten or typed?

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:52 am)

Greetings,

Had my interview yesterday. I interviewed with the chief judge (short haired lady whose name escapes me) and two of the attorneys.It was one of the worst interviews. They questions were scripted, very emotionless, no personality and just blah. I couldn't tell whether they liked my responses or not. Just a bunch of robots sitting around the conference room table. I asked about working spaces, work/life balance, upward mobility, etc. My questions didn't seem to amuse them at all. They said attorneys work a "usual" 40 hour weeks - YAH RIGHT! little did they know that I had read the 'loss-of-confidence-statement' letter and knew about the conditions at the BVA. I totally won't get disappointed if I don't get an offer. Why would anyone want to work there under those conditions. I think I will wait to see if things improve there and then reapply if they readvertise, but for now I am not going to subject myself to the torture. A fried of mine has his interview yesterday at the same time. I believe there are three interview panels going on at the same time. He brought up the letter during his interview and laid it all out on the table for them to respond...they addressed his concerns but just with some more BS. He too is not excited about the job, the GS grade - very low for folks like us who are experienced and worked for the feds previously and coming in with higher GS to have to take a measly GS11 and have to face the BS.

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asdfghjkl (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:55 am)

I couldn't remember any of the panel's names, though I'm pretty sure they all introduced themselves with first names only. I'm also kind of bad with faces so I don't even remember what they look like. Two ladies and one gentleman is all I remember. I was always taught to do a thank you letter within 24 hours, but I have no idea how to contact any of them, argh.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:59 am)

How will you send thank you letters?

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govlaw (Dec 21, 2017 - 11:04 am)

Email whomever contacted you to set up the interview and ask for contact information for the interviewers so you may thank them.

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asdfghjkl (Dec 21, 2017 - 11:40 am)

that's a good idea, I think I'll do that.

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bigboom (Dec 21, 2017 - 11:58 am)

Interviewees asking about the letter explains the patsies above saying all is well. Someone says the internet says it's bad and they actually want to hire people so they have to do damage control. Kinda sad it's that bad. Their damage control was also pathetic

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 12:06 pm)

If I could find out If being fired won’t destroy my chances of a federal job I wouldn’t mind working 20 unpaid OT hours a week for a few years.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 21, 2017 - 1:56 pm)

My colleague said that the Judge told him "we won't be firing anyone anymore as it doesn't look good for the agency..." go figure...he confirmed the rumors and admitted that that was going on all along....

As far as OT, it's against the law to not pay employees for OT. Those folks on here who say they don't mind the 20 hours of OT should be very concerned about their mental and physical health. Never settle for less and know your worth, b/c no one else will.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 2:00 pm)

Lawyers are professionals and not entitled to OT. I said I’d be okay with it for a few years, not twenty. I’d rather work long weeks than be homeless

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 2:05 pm)

True, but in the federal government, lawyers are entitled to credit hours for any work in excess of 40 hrs/week. Even assistant U.S. attorneys get credit hours for overtime. BVA, however, doesn't even acknowledge that it's employees work overtime.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:05 pm)

Unfortunately, your colleague's judge is not being honest. Management fired an attorney this morning 12/21. Everyone at the Board is talking about how ruthless and cold it is to fire someone just a few days before Christmas. But, I can't say that I'm surprised given how my wife was treated at the Board.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:08 pm)

Fired or asked to resign?

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:18 pm)

I don't know whether management gave the attorney the opportunity to resign prior to termination. Either way, forcing someone to resign or face termination during this week is unbelievably cold and ruthless.

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lawyerinthecity (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:22 pm)

John, seriously? What is your goal here. I heard about this, too, but I heard more details. Apparently, that guy was getting mostly "1"s on decisions. Have you even gotten a "1"? If so, yeah, maybe this isn't the job for you. And you should be worried. But don't cause fear on these applicants who are hopeful about working here. I don't know anyone who has gotten less than a "3" since we started in August. And all of these "friends of friends" who were fired for no reason---I have never met one. Stop making people think it's so much more dramatic than it is. It's not.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:45 pm)

Okay, as you probably know, there is no standard for scoring an attorney's work. What one judge considers as a "1" could very well be a "3" for another judge. Now, MOST judges at the Board only give out "3"s except for truly terrible work. However, other judges give out "1"s for minor revisions. All I am saying is that you cannot take the scores that a judge gives to an attorney at face value. My wife was doing well at the Board until she got moved to another judge. Then, all of a sudden, she started getting "1"s and "2"s. Her chief was kind enough to move her to another judge, and her scores improved. Not all attorneys will get that opportunity to change judges. The attorney who got fired today is a good example.

Don't try to do damage control by sugarcoating the environment at the Board. These prospective employees deserve to know that they could end up with a terrible judge/chief and get fired as a result.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:28 pm)

Again, you have no idea what you are talking about. Stop talking about it. You don’t know the guy, you don’t know his judge, you don’t know his supervisor, you don’t know the circumstances. Your wife was treated poorly at the Board, so you automatically assume everyone is? You accuse me of making “broad” statements? Pot, meet kettle.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:34 pm)

Okay, my wife knows that guy who was fired. She knows what happened to him. She also knows the judge who he wrote for. Don't assume that I'm speaking out of my ass.

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:40 pm)

I know you are speaking out of your ass. I know the judge he wrote for. I know his chief. I know the DVC he talked to. I also know him, I can guarantee I know him better than your “wife.” I have heard the rumors circulating about his termination. NONE of them are true.

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123xyz (Dec 21, 2017 - 11:10 pm)

You're acting like a douche again, sunset7. You (among others) seem to be trying to shut down john09 and other posters. Why? You've only recently, grudgingly, acknowledged his points. Do you not hear yourself? Ok, so you have a different point of view, but you do yourself and the Board no favors.

This sudden attempt at damage control needs more work. I'd give it a 1.

Thank you to john09 and the many other posters on this forum for making us aware of issues at the Board of which we would otherwise be unaware.

Having worked in a similarly poisonous atmosphere, with management through fear, I am losing interest in this position. Sad, really. I'm a true believer in the mission.

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sunset7 (Dec 22, 2017 - 12:48 am)

Haha, maybe I am just a douche, like everyone else here. At least I can feel good about being a douche with a good job, good benefits, and promotion potential. The idea of “damage control” is hilarious. It isn’t like the board won’t continue with or without me or with or without the complaints on this thread. The Board has never had a shortage of applicants ready to do the job everyone here believes would be nightmare. My sole aim is to be a resource when potential board attorneys have questions.

You thank John09 for discussing conditions. He contends he has never worked at the Board, he says anything he wants or believes about the experiences of others and it appears to stick. In reading through the comments in this thread, it is obvious to me that nobody is actually interested in learning about what life is really like for a Board attorney on a daily basis, but rather are solely interested in coming up with excuses for why they will not accept the job (which hasn’t yet been offered) or why their conscious told them not to take the interview. It is impossibly easy to believe everything you read, but it is disappointing as a Board employee to see that in action when it comes to the work you intend to devote your life too.

In my short time at the Board, it is clear that there are things that need to change; it is clear that there are a lot of attorneys who are unhappy with current production standards and other factors concerning the daily work environment. None of that, however, has discouraged those who are truly

Tonight, john09 has talked a lot about someone he doesn’t even know. Someone who is a very good friend of mine. If defending this person’s privacy makes me a douche, I welcome it.

If you believe what you read here, it is probably best that you lose interest in the job. You say you are a true believer in the mission, but I doubt you even know what that means?

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downwardslope (Dec 22, 2017 - 7:38 am)

So you expect us to believe that a person who says he came out of doc review is suddenly besties with all the management at the board, has looked at union financials, etc.? Come on.

Even knowing nothing about the BVA, some things are clear. When a position or series of positions post with SSA, they are limited to a set number of applicants and typically close in a few days due to high interest. That is with knowing what people know about SSA because the information is readily available online in another forum. During the interviews, they are up front with you about the production requirements being fast paced and demanding.

When the BVA hires, they have one posting open for months at a time. This is for a GS-11 position with a potential for GS-14. I interviewed for one of those ladder positions at another agency (it had one position) and it closed after a set number of applications and was really nervous about GS-11 step one. I interviewed with the entire department and the interview started with, “My name is X, I have been here since Y.” People on here say that they went to the interviews with BVA and were not giving any clear answers about their concerns about various issues such as whether they’d even make it a year, the loss of confidence statement, etc. Why would they have any reason to lie about that? Why would john09 have any reason to lie? I know other people who have worked in different parts of the VA recently and they said it was pretty much the worst place they’ve ever worked, so it’s pretty well known that the VA is dysfunctional now.

I think the main gist of what john09 and others are saying is that if you have other options that are full time and offer benefits, it’s better to stick with them, because this is not one of those options.

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bigboom (Dec 22, 2017 - 7:38 am)

You should never "feel good about being a douche". If you do I put no value into your efforts. Besides being offended about your very good friend, (which makes me think you're management doing damage control) you present no picture of the positives of the job. If the best you present is that the nebulous sounding mission is good I'm not sold. I want to know how it really is and acknowledging that a lot of attorneys are unhappy is not a positive

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 21, 2017 - 2:05 pm)

Lawyers are humans not machines or robots. I have tremendous respect for Humans not robots and machines. I am not sacrificing my health for bureaucrats.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 2:13 pm)

Wish I had that luxury. When you have no marketability you become desperate . I’m a dude. Nobody is going to provide for me. Only I can do that.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 21, 2017 - 2:25 pm)

I understand but be careful how desperate you get...sometimes you get sucked into it so deep to the detriment of your health and then can't get out of it. Mental health is rampant in the legal community and I know you know this. Maybe you can budget your life. You don't have to have everything in life. Less is more is my new mantra.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 2:27 pm)

At this point I wouldn’t mind living in those tiny homes so long as it had a kitchen, shower and Internet. I’ve got nobody to impress.

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asdfghjkl (Dec 21, 2017 - 3:04 pm)

@notreallyalawyer, I know your pain haha. I've been on medicaid for months (super worried that it's going to be gone before I can find a job), and had to take all the money out of my retirement fund just to keep the lights on. It'll get better though, might have to flip some burgers at McD or get some sugar mama before that happens, but we'll get there.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 3:10 pm)

Can’t you do doc review in the meanwhile? As much as I hate it I’d rather do it than be homeless. So long as you aren’t a supervisor it isn’t very stressful. I just don’t want to go it for the rest of my life and it likely isn’t an option given TAR will be the norm eventually

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asdfghjkl (Dec 21, 2017 - 3:33 pm)

I've signed up with multiple doc review agencies but nothing so far. I moved to DC/MD area in August, so I'm not barred here yet. Turned in my application to waive into DC, but the admission office says it'll be 6-9 months before the background check comes through.

When I moved, I totally thought I could at least get intermittent doc review jobs, but it looks like most places here require DC bar admission.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 3:39 pm)

Some reviews only require any bar but most require DC. Are you on the posse list yet?

This is from today:

Robert Half Legal is recruiting licensed attorneys in D.C. for a 3-4 month document review project starting the week of January 2nd.

The details:
Location: work will be done in our DC project space in the Farragut neighborhood
Expected Duration: 3-4 months
Hourly Pay: $32/hour
Start date: week of January 2nd
Requirements:
Must be actively licensed in any state and in good standing
Recent document review experience
Candidate must be able to commit to 40 hours a week

For immediate consideration, please email resume in Word format to [email protected]

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asdfghjkl (Dec 21, 2017 - 3:50 pm)

Oh thank you! I didn't see that one yet! Will send in my resume.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 3:56 pm)

Do it quickly

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 21, 2017 - 5:25 pm)

The start date for that project is now December 26

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 8:23 pm)

If it isn’t too far, you should look for projects in Baltimore too. That is where I started doing doc review a few years ago before I submitted my DC bar stuff. Some DC projects will also hire you if you are DC waiver eligible and and have submitted your application. Granted that was a few years ago, but it seemed to me that certain agencies and firms were willing to acknowledge the fact that you have to wait so long after submitting your DC bar application.

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sk8girl99 (Dec 21, 2017 - 9:32 pm)

O.K. Boys and girls. Let us put on our critical thinking caps. If the attorneys at the board as a whole were really so unhappy, then why do all the reviews on Glassdoor testify that the board is a stress free and fantastic place to work. I put more faith in glass door than this website. Also, the signatures on the loss of confidence form are just scribbles. If an attorney has a problem, he or she should bring it to the attention of his or her chief and stop posting on this website during the workday. If this is being done on work computers, I would be very worried.

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john09 (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:11 pm)

You mean the one positive review on Glassdoor? Yes, writing 4 decisions a week that are 20+ pages long and reading thousands of pages of medical records is extremely stress free, kinda like being a baby.

BTW, did you read the negative review too?

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-US-Department-of-Veterans-Affairs-RVW5703324.htm

How about Kelli Kordich's testimony to Congress?

http://docs.house.gov/meetings/VR/VR08/20140910/102615/HHRG-113-VR08-Wstate-KordichK-20140910.pdf

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sunset7 (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:49 pm)

Kelli Kordich who is now a judge at the Board. She must have really found it unbearable.

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bigboom (Dec 22, 2017 - 7:59 am)

I can decipher most if the signatures on the loss of confidence, especially the ones that are typed because they were teleworking. That is an actual name of an actual person who spoke out by signing in a way that management would know. That is extremely more reliable than an outdated glass door comment.

Also you seem like management. Anyone under 45 has a cellular phone they can use to access the site. Further only management would stress the risk of using it on work computer. Finally you offer no positive points to the job. If the best you can muster is that people shouldn't use their computers or they might be in trouble that is concerning as it sends you're just trying to scare people into not talking.

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sunset7 (Feb 7, 2018 - 12:01 am)

As I have noticed several times, people enjoy posting here when they have no experience with the type of law.

First, if you actually knew anyone who worked at the Board, they would be able to tell you that cell reception is barely possible in the building we work in. As a result, if people are posting on this site during the work day, they are 100 percent doing it from their work computers.

Second, I am more than happy to offer positive points on my job. I LOVE this job. My brother is a 100 percent disabled veteran and it was not easy to get him there, he was consistently denied the benefits he deserved by the VA. Eventually, he appealed and someone at the Board saw fit to grant him the benefit he was entitled to. I saw the difference that made in his life. In the lives of his kids'. When I found out the Board was hiring I automatically applied and have not at any point regretted it. I know that every claim I grant, or even decide, is making a difference in someone's life like my brother's decision made a difference in his life.

You should avoid talking about what this job means, particularly when you don't even remotely understand the mission that VA serves.

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somefed (Dec 22, 2017 - 12:25 pm)

What kind of moron would post on JDU from a work computer?

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 22, 2017 - 9:18 am)

Those positive reviews on Glassdoor are from BVA HR or some admin troll. If things are so wonderful there then why are so may attorneys leaving? They say they are hiring 150 attorneys b/c of the backlog, I think it's more of a "we need to replaced those we fired and keep the rest on reserve so in case we need to fire more people or fill the positions of those who chose to leave...."

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 22, 2017 - 11:40 am)

Any sense on number of people being brought in for interviews or being asked to come in to take writing test? Trying to get a sense for the odds

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bigboom (Dec 22, 2017 - 12:38 pm)

I know 5 to 10 who interviewed. It seems like they were interviewing all day for the past two weeks but are mostly done now. I've only heard of one who was asked to come for writing but I haven't followed up with most off those I know who interviewed.

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sunset7 (Feb 7, 2018 - 1:02 am)

"5 to 10???"

That is a pretty large range when it comes to people you know who "may" have interviewed. . .

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 22, 2017 - 1:04 pm)

Interviewed early in the week and contacted shortly after to schedule the writing test.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 22, 2017 - 1:41 pm)

interviews have been going on the past 3 weeks at least to my knowledge. seems like the writing test happens within a week or so of the interview

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 22, 2017 - 2:40 pm)

are they having everyone interviewed take the writing test? How do they pick and chose who gets to take the test? this whole thing is just bazaar....

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bigboom (Dec 22, 2017 - 3:06 pm)

This writing test stuff is very baffling to me. I was interviewed a week ago but no writing test invitation. Normally I'd think that was a bad sign. But I'm telling myself it's Christmas so maybe the hr person who should invite me is on leave. I wonder what they do about people who are not in the area and having them take the test. Honestly though if no writing invitation means no offer I'm not that bothered. I'm on the fence and making me take a writing test is insulting to me as I write legal docs all day long. I've never heard of taking a writing test for a job.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 22, 2017 - 3:20 pm)

bigboom,

I agree with you. I wonder if they are asking only those folks who have never practiced law nor have any practical experience to take the test. I interviewed Wednesday and haven't heard anything. I won't be upset if I don't get the job given how bad things are internally. I am very nervous about having to accept an offer at this point.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 22, 2017 - 3:28 pm)

They might be waiting to have everyone take test together as a big group. They have been having people take the test in groups(like law school exam with proctor

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 22, 2017 - 3:52 pm)

I declined an offer once from them and years later they invited me for an interview this time which I declined. If things improve there you still have a chance later though if it becomes a more desirable place to work it will be harder to get the job. I’m willing to work long and hard, I just want a fair chance which I don’t think you can get with the chaos there

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angiepriss (Dec 24, 2017 - 4:13 pm)

They are asking everyone I think to do the writing test. Mine is on Thursday and I am a SC vet who has been practicing veterans benefits law for a year prior to applying.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 24, 2017 - 6:33 pm)

I think so too that everyone is being asked to take the writing test this hiring cycle. They were giving the writing test in a big computer testing center with groups of people taking the test at the same time. The people I talked to were not entry level and had a lot of experience (some with military backgrounds so vet preference may come into play

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bigboom (Dec 25, 2017 - 10:23 am)

My friend told me they wanted him to take the writing test on Friday. This was the last working day before christmas and they asked him just a few days in advance. I think this confirms the hellish working conditions. If they want someone to take a writing test the working day before Christmas it seems they have absolutely no concern about people's lives. My lack of invitation to the writing test suggests they aren't interested in me. Which I am ok with as my current job lets me take off as much time around Christmas as I wanted with no expectation to engage in nonsense activities the day before Christmas. A writing test is demeaning and expecting it the day before Christmas just cements that they are going to expect you to do nonsense work and do it for 50-60 hours week to meet their unrealistic expectations without any real breaks such as Christmas..

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somefed (Dec 25, 2017 - 10:41 pm)

Bigboom, maybe people with more work experience do not have to take a writing test since they have a proven track record.

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t3success (Dec 25, 2017 - 6:31 pm)

What is a “SC” vet?

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govlaw (Dec 25, 2017 - 7:03 pm)

Service connected disability, I would guess.

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jinomas (Dec 25, 2017 - 10:04 am)

Did anybody learn anything else interesting at the interviews? About how attrition rates are historically ten percent for the first year and that it hasn't increased lately even with all the new hiring. Or that because they are still receiving more appeals than they are issuing decisions, their plan is to throw "more bodies" at the problem? What did you ask? What was their answer?

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somefed (Dec 25, 2017 - 11:48 am)

The Veterans Benefits Administration has more than 20,000 employees, while the Board has about 700. The only way to catch up with the number of appeals VBA sends is to add more people.

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jinomas (Dec 25, 2017 - 4:07 pm)

I wonder if the SSA applicants have to take the writing test.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 26, 2017 - 8:22 am)

Bigboom,

I agree with you. I have not been contacted to take the test but I have decided I'mm not interested in the job anymore and all the headaches and problems I would have to endure just to earn a measly GS11 salary. I think I will focus on getting a job with another agency.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 26, 2017 - 8:26 am)

Keep in mind feds got a 2 percent pay raise. Gs11 now pays almost 70k. Substantially more than doc review now. When I got my offer from bva years ago gs11 paid maybe 54k.

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bigboom (Dec 26, 2017 - 3:00 pm)

Gs 11 step 1 fire 2018 would be 68,036 pretty hard to live off that in dc

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 26, 2017 - 3:35 pm)

Well it’s more than it was and with the tax cuts a lot better off

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 26, 2017 - 8:36 am)

You make about that much doing doc review with 50 hours a week and a practice on the side with lot less BS. Does the 70K include the locality pay?

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 26, 2017 - 8:37 am)

Yes. However you can’t assume you’ll get OT doing doc review. It is rare and you get no benefits

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 26, 2017 - 8:44 am)

True. However I question whether it's worth the mental and physical anguish of getting a job at VBA? Having read all the postings, the letter and my conversations with those already working there/worked there, I am very nervous to take job if offered at this point. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that I haven't heard from them.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 26, 2017 - 8:49 am)

One of the reasons I declined the interview was my fear I’d not get an offer and my realization I can’t ebsn get the worst lawyer job

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 27, 2017 - 8:20 am)

Other than in house counsel jobs are there non mentally abusive lawyer jobs? The pay doesn’t make up for it, it is still abuse

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 26, 2017 - 8:54 am)

Please don't think that way. I really believe in the say that "things happen for a reason." The things I read/heard about this place assures me that's it's an ideal place for someone with relatively healthy mind and body to work in. I think there is something much better out there for you and even me. Have hope and keep praying. Practicing law is not the end all be all and unlike what so many lawyers think and believe, you can leverage or analytical, research and investigative skills to do other things out there. I was an intel analyst after graduating law school and way before I starting practicing law. I didn't practice law until 9 years after graduating law school. It's how you package and sell yourself. Always know your worth!

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 26, 2017 - 9:01 am)

Pardon the typo in my previous email. I meant to say NOT an ideal place for someone with....Still very early and exhausted from all the holiday festivities...

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 26, 2017 - 9:21 am)

Thanks. Perhaps I have a chance if I make a career change but there’s nothing for me in law. Now how do I do the career change with my anxiety. Ugh

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 26, 2017 - 9:43 am)

sometimes we bring our own anxiety by putting very high/unfair/unreasonable expectations/pressure on ourselves. For what? no one has died and taken their degree, status, GS grade, wealth, assets...to their graves. So the key is to take a few steps back, realize that we are all human and not machines. We all have a special gift to offer to this world and it's not our law degree or our practice. Find that gift. You definitely have it. Find something beside law that interests/motivates you. Do you have any hobbies? I used to do ballroom dancing (need to get back to it). I am an avid yogi that keeps me sane in this insane world, especially under this crazy administration. Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, hiking, exercising, biking, long walks, massage and even painting/drawing....all help a lot. I can't mentally and even physically survive w/out yoga/meditation. Don't mean to lecture you but I see so many lawyers in this town who are on the verge of breaking if not already broken. Did you all hear about the attorney who committed suicide last year by jumping from the Bank of American Building near the Metro Center. My friend saw him as he hit the ground. He was a partner at Freshfield......It's up to us to manage our stress and our limits. Nothing is worth our health..not even our law degrees.

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govlaw (Dec 26, 2017 - 9:58 am)

This. We have all had bad jobs/bosses/situations. You have to make the best of it by finding other things that make you happy and give you satisfaction outside of work.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 26, 2017 - 9:59 am)

I agree . I just have really bad genetic anxiety. My mom barely can function . I do poorly at interviews and speaking so that greatly hinders my marketability . Just want a comfortable life, townhouse at most. I’ve never bought a new car probably never will. No kids ever.. the dc area kinda sucks with all the status and materialism stuff

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govlaw (Dec 26, 2017 - 10:32 am)

If you find something outside of career to be good at, you will find you have more confidence with career stuff.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 26, 2017 - 10:06 am)

if you say you are going to do poorly on anything you are definitely what I call 'self manifesting' before it has a chance to occur. Have you heard of Ester (Abraham) Hicks? She is guru of of Law of Attraction. Check her out on youtube. She has zillions of videos on there. By the way, if it's any consolation, I never buy new cars, will never and never believed in it. It's what I call a bad investment to buy a new car. I am content on renting an apartment for the rest of my life as long as I am at peace and happy. I have no expectations other than happiness and being at peace.

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asdfghjkl (Dec 27, 2017 - 10:24 am)

Happy holidays guys!

I declined the call back for written test and accepted a non-profit job instead. The non-profit job pays almost 15k less but I think I’d be much happier.

The comments in this forum really helped me make this decision. I’d rather surround myself with positive people if I have to do nose-to-the-grindstone kind of work. All the people who came out as loving the BVA job sounded cajoling, petty, or defensive to me, and I just don’t need that in my life!

Good luck to those who really want this job! You got at least one less person in the running now ;)

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 27, 2017 - 10:36 am)

Good luck! Wish I could get a job like that. You must have mad skillz

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asdfghjkl (Dec 27, 2017 - 1:55 pm)

Thank you! No mad skillz, just a lot of nonprofit experience and super lucky to have ex-bosses that’s willing to say good things for me.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 27, 2017 - 1:58 pm)

Must be nice having work experience .

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 27, 2017 - 2:55 pm)

asdfghjkl,

Congratulations!

Sounds like you made the right choice by arriving to the right decision. Doing what you love is much more important than making money doing something you hate. Good luck with the new gig.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 27, 2017 - 3:07 pm)

I still have not been contacted. I think it's a blessing in disguise....I am just curious to see whether they really really hire 150 attorneys. Where would they put them? By the way the building where I interviewed is in a crappy location. Not really metro accessible, no where to find some good food and not in a good area of town, especially at night if you have to work late hours...

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 27, 2017 - 3:10 pm)

Isn’t the BVA at McPherson? Can’t they house people in the ex im bank now that it is gone ?

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bigboom (Dec 27, 2017 - 6:48 pm)

I haven't been contacted since the interview either.I think the job would be at 425 I street which on my way from my car to the building I was approached for money and one guy knocked on my car window. So super sketchy. But they have small rooms with desks like a call center. People used to get tours but I guess that put people off. They claim they intend to have people telework but in the last bva report to congress less than half were teleworking and only 30 percent or so were three or more days a week. So the reported numbers don't match their promises of telework.my guess you're stuck in room with a tiny desk surrounded by lots of unhappy people and hope you don't get mugged walking to the metro at night.

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somefed (Dec 27, 2017 - 3:13 pm)

The Board left McPherson about six years ago. It is now located in the Gallery Place area.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 27, 2017 - 3:55 pm)

it's not off Gallery place. It's a few blocks away from either Gallery Place or Judiciary. While I don't mind walking the few blocks, it's not an area want to be in at night after putting in 13 hours in the day, not to mention during rough winter weather. The building is nice but no place to go to buy food.....

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somefed (Dec 27, 2017 - 5:30 pm)

I mean it is in the general Gallery Pl area, 425 I street to be exact. Many federal jobs in DC are not in the nicest parts of town due to the cost of DC real estate. For example many transportation department lawyers are in Navy Yard.

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burneremail (Jan 3, 2018 - 11:05 pm)

Lol, you haven’t been to the Navy Yard in the past few years have you?

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somefed (Jan 5, 2018 - 10:07 pm)

Actually I go there all the time for baseball games "lol." Is there something wonderful I am missing? It is about the same general safety level as Gallery Place.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 27, 2017 - 3:58 pm)

If you don’t get fired you do do those long hours of unpaid Ot at home

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curiousposter (Dec 27, 2017 - 4:44 pm)

The back and forth of these posts aside, did anyone hear much on a timeline for offers? I interviewed and took the writing test (remotely, as I traveled for Christmas) last Friday, and in my interview the judges said they were looking to have people start in January. I read all the back and forths here, and know what I would be getting into. However this is still a position I am interested in and would accept an offer if one were extended, so I was wondering if anyone else on here had insight on the timeline? Thanks, and happy new year all!

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jinomas (Dec 27, 2017 - 5:20 pm)

What was your timeline so far? How long between your interview and writing test?

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curiousposter (Dec 27, 2017 - 5:39 pm)

It was a week between the interview and the test. Was impressed with the quick turnarounds! And the individual giving the test seemed to hint that it was mostly a formality, but we will see I suppose. Didn't mention anything further on any timelines.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 27, 2017 - 6:51 pm)

sounds right-it was about a week after the interview that I took writing test as well

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hopefulfedatty2018 (Dec 28, 2017 - 3:29 pm)

My writing test was about a week after my interview as well. To date, I have not heard anything and on the day that I took the test, the proctor offered that there wasn't a known timeline. During the interview, I was told that they anticipate a January initial start date and monthly start dates until 150 attorneys are hired. Hope that helps!

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hopelesslyunemployed (Dec 27, 2017 - 5:27 pm)

i am guessing early january for offers since they want to try to have people started by late january/ early february

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bigboom (Dec 27, 2017 - 6:51 pm)

January seems right. I wonder what they'll do about background checks. If you don't pass just fire you after you quit a job to come there because they won't have time to do it before and they don't seem to mind firing people.

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hopefulesq71 (Dec 28, 2017 - 11:30 am)

My judge said February and no mention of a test.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 29, 2017 - 9:34 am)

Isn’t what you do at the BVA basically what a clerk for a judge does yet they have their pick of jobs? Another prestige status thing in law

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sendlawyers (Jan 2, 2018 - 7:32 pm)

With ample opinions given on the good, bad, and ugly aspects of the BVA Attorney jobs, and with the holidays behind us, now is a good time to revive this thread to present a clean summary of the 2017 BVA job openings.

150 vacancies open to public (US citizens)

150 vacancies open to current/former feds

There were at least 450 applicants; but it is unknown whether the minimum of 450 is comprised of all applicants (public plus current/former feds) or just public applicants.

Total 300 vacancies to fill.

First cut applicant interviews in DC and remote interviews were conducted in early-to-mid Dec. 2017 for current/former feds and public applicants.

The first cut applicants who were selected to advance then were asked to do writing tests in DC or remote writing tests; these writing tests were done in mid-to-late Dec. 2017.

Tentative offers for first cut applicants are expected sometime in January 2018.

Please post additional data or any corrections.

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whynot (Jan 2, 2018 - 10:21 pm)

One correction for the above, there are not 300 openings. It is 150 at most (possibly a bit lower). The announcements listed the total maximum vacancies each time, they are not combined.

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sendlawyers (Jan 2, 2018 - 10:57 pm)

Thanks to whynot for the correction! The edited summary is set out below.

Total 150 vacancies MAX open to public (US citizens) and to current/former feds. There were at least 450 applicants.

First cut applicant interviews in DC and remote interviews were conducted in early-to-mid Dec. 2017 for current/former feds and public applicants.

The first cut applicants who were selected to advance then were asked to do writing tests in DC or remote writing tests; these writing tests were done in mid-to-late Dec. 2017.

Tentative offers for first cut applicants are expected sometime in January 2018.

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bigboom (Jan 4, 2018 - 6:55 pm)

And in mid March first person quits after realizing being stuck in a call center office space isn't what they went to school for paying hundreds of thousands fire a two foot desk so close to your neighbor you can tell what brand of tooth paste they use. Mid September a wave quit after being on production and doing their third seventy hour week and realizing best case they make it down to fifty hours of course no overtime payoff all just donated time.

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notreallyalawyer (Jan 4, 2018 - 7:01 pm)

Is that worse than doc review though?

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hopefulesq71 (Jan 3, 2018 - 12:24 pm)

Thanks for summarizing. When you say first cut does that mean there will be a second cut? I haven't heard back from them, so is it safe to assume I didn't make it at all? It's fine by me but just trying to gauge what's going on in the back end.

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startupesq (Jan 4, 2018 - 12:01 pm)

Any updates on this position?

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hopelesslyunemployed (Jan 4, 2018 - 2:03 pm)

I have not heard anything yet. Maybe it is taking awhile to grade all the writing tests?

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toosexyformygrade (Jan 4, 2018 - 10:23 pm)

I also have not heard anything. I interviewed on 12/6 and took the writing test on 12/13.

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notreallyalawyer (Jan 4, 2018 - 12:09 pm)

Does anyone have a definitive answer on being asked to resign has in your potential for future federal employment?

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startupesq (Jan 4, 2018 - 12:23 pm)

I know you were debating whether to interview. Did you end up interviewing?

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notreallyalawyer (Jan 4, 2018 - 2:25 pm)

No, I declined it because I was afraid of being fired and have a law clerk position offer

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dcm1983 (Jan 4, 2018 - 12:37 pm)

Before they fire you, they strip you naked and force you to walk through the halls while the other employees spit on you and shout “Shame! Shame!” It’s called a performance improvement plan.

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bigboom (Jan 4, 2018 - 7:08 pm)

Someone above talked about the guy with the highest numbers and verifying the amount on some system.Do they release everyone's performance numbers for ask the co workers to see as a way to guilt others into working more so they're not at the bottom of the list.

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dcm1983 (Jan 4, 2018 - 10:55 pm)

No, you can't really compare work between attorneys fairly. An attorney could have really high production and quality marks from one judge and then totally fail without another judge. It's not a standardized process where everyone agrees on what to do, which makes consistent production difficult. If they actually released all the performance numbers for every judge and attorney, it would probably cause problems.

I don't feel the work environment between the attorneys is super competitive. People try to help each other out.

That being said, the numbers are public information although you have to do some work to organize and make sense of it.


All of the decisions eventually end up at this public website:

https://www.index.va.gov/search/va/bva.jsp

You can see the raw data there with all the names of the attorneys and judges as well as how many cases they produced each year.

You can see what they report to congress in their annual reports here:

https://www.bva.va.gov/Chairman_Annual_Rpts.asp

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notreallyalawyer (Jan 5, 2018 - 8:13 am)

What do the judges do besides tell people to rewrite opinions?

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hopefulesq71 (Jan 5, 2018 - 8:39 am)

notreallyalawyer,

They edit your work and scream at you all day for not doing a good job I guess.

So is it safe to assume that I didn't get the job since I haven't heard anything after so far? I was interviewed on December 20th.

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notreallyalawyer (Jan 5, 2018 - 8:41 am)

I’m sure even if you get rejected they’ll tell you

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downwardslope (Jan 5, 2018 - 9:11 am)

No. I have interviewed for 4 fed positions and heard not a word from two.

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bigboom (Jan 5, 2018 - 10:24 am)

Some Fed jobs will let you know by way of usajobs notice. Some won't just depends on the work ethic of hr. I doubt you'll hear from the va. I imagine they are hiring in waves as they can't do all 150 at once. This means they will likely keep the announcement open. Then they can pull more names if they need. And based on the amount off people turning down interviews and the insulting writing test I think they'll need to pull extra names so they will keep it open. There will also likely be a few people quit from the first wave before they hit 150 trained so they'll need more. I would not consider your rejected until they post again.management seems to only care about numbers not people.

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somefed (Jan 5, 2018 - 2:12 pm)

The judges are also responsible for conducting hearings. They have to brief cases in advance of the hearings as well.

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hopefulesq71 (Jan 5, 2018 - 8:48 am)

That's not true. I never heard from SSA until after I sent them 4 emails (one to the judge who interviewed me and three emails to HR). Their final response and I kid you not: "selections have been made." Just that and nothing else. You tell me WTF that means....they can't even take their time to write a respectful and coherent sentence to let their candidates know about the disposition of their application. Lack of response doesn't mean you got the job these days. On the contrary it means you are dealing with bunch of a$$00000 in the HR.

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kramer716 (Jan 5, 2018 - 11:24 pm)

Had a similar experience. Had to harass HR until they gave me an answer when I applied.

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rayjudicata (Jan 5, 2018 - 9:14 am)

What does the writing test consist of?

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hopefulesq71 (Jan 5, 2018 - 10:10 am)

I heard it's like a bar exam. They give you a fact pattern, case law and some fake medical records and have you write the decision.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Jan 9, 2018 - 1:36 pm)

Anyone know if any offers have gone out yet?

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toosexyformygrade (Jan 9, 2018 - 7:09 pm)

I received a tentative offer today, I interviewed the first week of December. The email was from an OPM address and they request that you respond by this Friday 1/12.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Jan 9, 2018 - 7:29 pm)

congrats! did the e-mail mention a start date? still have not heard anything as of yet

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bigboom (Jan 10, 2018 - 5:08 pm)

Don't even give the weekend to think about it. They sure have high demands. People with really big life choice to make and they give no time to think about it

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bigboom (Jan 11, 2018 - 10:59 am)

I've never heard of a federal job offer through opm (unless it was for opm) (and I've personally received multiple Fed job offers) it is always the hr person from the agency. I wonder if they got caught up in some shady practices and opm had to take over.

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sunset7 (Feb 7, 2018 - 1:04 am)

This is because you have never been offered a federal job.

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startupesq (Jan 11, 2018 - 4:11 pm)

Did they offer multiple start dates?

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hopefulesq71 (Jan 10, 2018 - 9:21 am)

were you asked to take a written test?

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bigboom (Jan 16, 2018 - 3:14 pm)

I received an email thanking me for my interest and encouraging me to apply for other jobs. I guess that means no offer. But they never actually say that, very ambiguous. This was for a Fed employee one but I never was in the competitive service so it might be just them recognizing that. My general public application had no updates. Congrats to those chosen I'd think carefully before accepting it seems better than no job but not much. When it opens back up in six months because no one stayed I'm not going to bother applying again. Thanks to everyone who informed me of the horrible conditions.

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curiousposter (Jan 16, 2018 - 4:03 pm)

Sorry to hear that man. Did you email them and get that in reply, or just out of the blue? Also I know you were in the second round of interviews, did you ever take the writing test? Just trying to make some sense of the timeline.

Anyone from the mid/late December interviews hear anything yet?

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hopelesslyunemployed (Jan 16, 2018 - 4:12 pm)

Still have not heard anything. Took writing test late December

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bigboom (Jan 16, 2018 - 4:58 pm)

I appreciate the thoughts but no need to be sorry being rejected is not fun but I oscillated on whether to take the job so I'm not bothered and potentially am benefited by not getting stuck in a horrid work environment. I think they realized at the interview I wouldn't bend the knee.

I didn't email, just an out of the blue email. I never did the writing test so I'm not surprised by no offer. I'm actually surprised they are sending rejections as I know a few people who said they won't take the job and I'd think the va would keep their options open. My interview was the first of December so they might bee going in order.

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bigboom (Jan 18, 2018 - 2:04 pm)

I'm back, thought I was done. But just to show what a turd show these guys are running they are hiring again. I guess more people quit than they expected our they fired a ton of people. Haven't even finished hiring and they already need to post again.

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downwardslope (Jan 18, 2018 - 2:53 pm)

Wow. It looks like 100 more openings. Wasn’t the last post open until November with 150?

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curiousposter (Jan 18, 2018 - 3:47 pm)

I asked about their hiring expectations during the interview, and they said they were trying to increase the ranks to 1,000 over four years, so they were anticipating more large hire postings.

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startupesq (Jan 18, 2018 - 3:59 pm)

The new announcement mentions the 11/03/17 deadline so I'm wondering if they just hired 50 from the first round and were unhappy with the remainder of the interviewees.

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curiousposter (Jan 18, 2018 - 4:12 pm)

Maybe I am being hopeful, but I can't say how many times I've seen an old deadline included in a new job posting on USAJobs, so I am thinking that might just be an error... But we will see once anyone who took the later test hears back.

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somefed (Jan 18, 2018 - 4:34 pm)

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/488861000

The deadline listed is 1/31/2018.

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startupesq (Jan 18, 2018 - 4:40 pm)

Yeah, it is... However, if you read the entire listing, under the qualifications section, they did not update the reference to 11/03/2017. Obviously, it is irrelevant because we are in 2018, but interesting that they are posting this with a good amount of individuals still waiting to hear back from them.

Also noticed that this time around it mentions drug testing. Is that what the VA is attributing to problems with production?! LOL!

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hopelesslyunemployed (Jan 18, 2018 - 6:42 pm)

Is this latest posting for 100 attorneys in addition to the last posting for 150 attorneys (so they are hiring 250 attorneys)? I still have not heard anything regarding the first posting (interviewed and took writing test late December). I am wondering if they are still making selections from the first posting?

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lydia (Jan 23, 2018 - 7:48 pm)

Good news! They are looking to hire a lot of attorneys, and a lot of attorneys are far behind on the quota. So, they will probably fire a lot of people soon and replace them with fresh meat. They recently sent out a job posting and a copy of the performance standards to drive this point home.

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wickerpark (Jan 23, 2018 - 9:21 pm)

I've read a few comments here about a large portion of existing attorneys not hitting the new quota, what has happened to them? Is it a yearly review? Is the culture as bad as some of the other commenters make it sound?

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lydia (Jan 23, 2018 - 9:38 pm)

The management fired of a lot of people at the end of the fiscal year. People were tearing up in the halls and bathrooms. They didn't do mass firing after that, but we did lose a few more since. Whether the numbers are reasonable or unreasonable will depend on your judge. It's like a bell curve. At all times you are going to have about 25% of the attorneys exceeding the quota by a large margin whether it's because they are really efficient or they're just cutting a lot of corners. You're going to have another 50% that are struggling to make quota, and you're going to have another 25% that are failing. Whether management will fire all of that bottom chunk or work with them is a big question mark. The union is suing on the unpaid overtime issue and taking the unreasonable quota and unpaid overtime issues to arbitration.

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wickerpark (Jan 23, 2018 - 9:50 pm)

Thank you for that. In terms of judges, are there a few more difficult ones or are there judges all over the spectrum in terms of reasonableness? Do people ever change judges?

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lydia (Jan 23, 2018 - 10:02 pm)

They will switch to you a different judge as new people come in to keep a balance of new people and experienced people. If you have a major problem with your judge, you're running the risk of being fired. Some judges are hard to work with for personal reasons, and some just want a lot more rationale in the decision. If more rationale = working every single weekend, then it's a personal problem for you.

As the Board increases its decision output expectations, it raises a big debate about whether it the attoneys can even do the job that the Board is legally required to do or if we are just churning out papier mache decisions based on cursory review, which could be easily overturned by judicial scrutiny from the court above it. A lot of the judges are concerned about their reputation and image, but the management (the people who determine whether you get fired or promoted), are singularly focused on the number of cases you produce whether they are legally defensible or not.

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somefed (Jan 24, 2018 - 6:02 am)

There are definitely differences between judges. Some judges expect the decisions to address every medical record and written argument for any given topic. It takes much longer to write a decision for one of those judges. There is no adjustment working for these prima donna types. It is very hard to get switched. The truth is that management knows some judges are impossible but does nothing to address the issue.

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jinomas (Jan 23, 2018 - 9:27 pm)

I interviewed for the last announcement and I never heard anything back. I applied again for this new one that just opened.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Jan 23, 2018 - 9:32 pm)

same here-interviewed, came back and took a writing test and never heard back. Did they set a start date yet for the last posting? are they looking to let attorneys go? how much time do they give new attorneys to learn the job and get up to speed?

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lawwen (Jan 24, 2018 - 12:46 pm)

I applied for the last announcement, but heard nothing after being referred. Not sure whether to reapply. What credentials are they looking for?

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hopelesslyunemployed (Jan 30, 2018 - 11:30 am)

Received an offer, so looks like they are still making selections from last posting

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startupesq (Jan 30, 2018 - 1:10 pm)

Congrats!! Did you hear by email from OPM like the earlier poster? How soon does it start?

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curiousposter (Jan 30, 2018 - 2:01 pm)

I came back just to see if you got one as well, since I knew you were on the same interview/writing test schedule as me. Congrats! My email came at about noon, and says that a start date will be given after the routine background check. The email was from OPM.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Jan 30, 2018 - 2:15 pm)

Yep got email from opm with a start date to be determined after background check

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rayjudicata (Jan 30, 2018 - 10:18 pm)

Received an offer via email today as well. Congrats to all who got an offer.

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cu014628 (Jan 31, 2018 - 12:12 am)

(1) New member of this site
(2) Received the offer today as well

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pisces213 (Feb 3, 2018 - 11:53 pm)

Same.

Has anyone gotten back with fingerprinting schedules and such?

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cu014628 (Feb 5, 2018 - 1:48 am)

Not me.

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cu014628 (Feb 6, 2018 - 6:57 pm)

Fingerprints being done tomorrow.

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pisces213 (Feb 6, 2018 - 11:54 pm)

nice. i still haven't heard anything.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Feb 6, 2018 - 11:04 pm)

anyone thinking there will be a shutdown? that could slow down the background check process and possibly delay start dates (maybe into March?

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sunset7 (Feb 6, 2018 - 11:43 pm)

Board employee here...to be fair, the non-board employees on this forum don't like me, which I find amusing. But I do have some insight to offer, take it or leave it.

I started at the Board in September and have my in-person background check interview in 2 weeks. Clearly, they aren't overly concerned with the interview, otherwise I wouldn't just now be doing it. I did have to do the fingerprinting part before I started, but that was pretty quick.

I talked to my mentor today about when the next group of new attorneys is starting. He said that they expected people in January, but that has clearly been pushed for a reason unknown to him. Last week he told me that the first group wasn't expected until April, but after talking to him this morning, he said that management had agreed to the first start date of 2/20, if people are through the background check process. He indicated that he expected it to take longer than that, but I think the background check process is different for everyone.

When I received my offer in late June 2017, I was told I would have the option of a start date beginning in July, but didn't get the confirmed offer and background check processing until the end of August, so my first available start date was in September. I don't expect things are much different after less than a year, but if anyone is waiting for a start date and has any questions, please ask...I am happy to send them up the chain to my mentor or judge.

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startupesq (Feb 7, 2018 - 12:52 am)

Is it fair for one to assume that if they interviewed and tested in late December that all bets are off as far as an offer since there has been a new solicitation posted for these positions?

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sunset7 (Feb 7, 2018 - 1:00 am)

No, I don't think that is a fair assumption (based on what I have heard). I talked to my judge a few weeks ago about the writing test. He said that reviewing them has been slow, because judges reviewing them also need to get actual decisions reviewed. Between talking to my judge and my mentor, it appeared to me that they were still working out final offers.

I only started in September, so while it may seem like I know things, my information might not be correct. I have a few friends that applied in the last round and was told to advise people to contact the HR number on the job announcement if they had any questions. I do know that the mentors have not been actually "mentoring" anyone for a fair amount of time and appear to be waiting for new people to start.

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karma (Feb 8, 2018 - 10:48 pm)

What's the background check like? Did they interview your neighbors or references?

How do you like the job?

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sunset7 (Feb 11, 2018 - 4:49 pm)

The background check isn't super intense, I think it can take longer than expected just because of workload. People that I know that started in August are just being contacted about their background check interviews; I haven't been contacted yet. It is clear that the interview isn't overly important; why would they let you start working if it was???

I like the job. I have mentioned in prior posts that I have a brother that is 100 percent disabled through VA. I know the good the agency can do. I also write for a pair of judges that are pretty great, super approachable and willing to help me learn. In talking to other people hired last fall, most judges appear to be that way. I also had a really awesome mentor which made the learning process pretty easy. All the mentoring is done through the training office and everyone in that office clearly knows what they are doing. Some of my friends who had the other mentors are equally as happy with the training/mentoring they received.

People make a lot of the production number at the Board. I haven't started production, so don't have the experience to comment on that...I start production in about a month. I feel like I am ready to meet the number, but I know everyone I started with doesn't feel that way. There was a congressional hearing last week about appeals and they mentioned several times that there is a backlog of over 470,000 appeals. So it makes sense to me that they make such a big deal about numbers. In talking to people, I get the impression that people who came from other government agencies, like SSA, aren't used to this kind of pressure because nobody on the hill paid this much attention to their office.

There are goods and bads to every job, but so far...5 months in...I like working at the Board. I like the people and I like serving Veterans. Maybe that will change down the raod, but for now, it is good!

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sunset7 (Feb 11, 2018 - 4:51 pm)

Sorry, I didn't answer your full question. I heard from my references that they got a form to fill out and had to mail back. They weren't personally contacted or interviewed.

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yetanotherlawer1234 (Feb 14, 2018 - 5:11 pm)

new member - got an offer also. finished fingerprints last thursday and completed submission of the sf85 stuff today...does your mentor or your judge have any ideas on when a start date would be offered?

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pisces213 (Feb 16, 2018 - 12:03 pm)

I was told that there were two starting dates, March 18 and April 15 (their fiscal week starts on Sunday; your first day at the job would be the following monday).

I have finished my e-QIP but have not heard back yet.

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yetanotherlawer1234 (Feb 16, 2018 - 2:31 pm)

Thanks for the info. By chance have you heard anything about how soon before those start dates they were going to make offers?

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pisces213 (Feb 16, 2018 - 6:54 pm)

Unfortunately, no.

I heard that it could be as late (early?) as two weeks before the starting date, so late February to early March seems likely.

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yetanotherlawer1234 (Mar 1, 2018 - 3:19 pm)

I contacted HR and asked what was going on because my supervisor was contacted for the BI. I got a response that they would start reaching out after fingerprints cleared and the eQIP info was submitted with the next hiring date being 4/1. Given how the dates keep moving, I don't really know how solid that date actually is.

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wickerpark (Feb 9, 2018 - 12:17 am)

I thought it was interesting that not only are they planning on hiring 150 attorneys, but the BVA recently announced "many vacancies" for Veterans Law Judge positions, they seem to really be growing

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/490675900

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sunset7 (Feb 11, 2018 - 4:38 pm)

Word around the hallways at the Board is that they are hiring 8 more judges to make up for recent retirements. We have approval to be at a total of 99 and are currently only in the 80s.

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iulawmatt (Feb 10, 2018 - 9:04 am)

I applied 1/24 on the most recent posting and just got emailed yesterday that I was referred to the hiring manager. What was the timeframe between referral and follow-up for an interview for you guys?

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pisces213 (Feb 11, 2018 - 10:44 pm)

For me it was about 3 weeks since the email for the interview, and then another week for the written exam. Took a little over a month from the written exam to hear that I was selected.

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esquired17 (Feb 13, 2018 - 1:52 pm)

Does anyone know if the agency will contact current employers as part of the background investigation? I did not want to give my current employer notice until I received a firm offer and start date.

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readyforachange706 (Feb 21, 2018 - 9:35 am)

Has anyone heard anything new?

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iulawmatt (Feb 21, 2018 - 1:50 pm)

Still waiting for an interview here. I got my notice of referral on the 9th, so fingers crossed.

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readyforachange706 (Feb 21, 2018 - 2:02 pm)

Same here.

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lawless18 (Feb 21, 2018 - 2:13 pm)

I interviewed on December 22 and took the writing test on the 28th, and haven’t heard anything back. Have anyone from those dates received a response or tentative offer? Should I assume that means no offer? From past posts it seems like no one from those dates have received a response, and I’m wondering if that means we are not being considered because they’ve already hired from the previous weeks?

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startupesq (Feb 21, 2018 - 3:17 pm)

Interviewed 12/19 and writing test 12/28, but silence since then for me.

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pisces213 (Feb 22, 2018 - 8:11 pm)

Interviewed 12/20, took exam 12/28.

Tentative offer 1/30, pending background check.

They then sent me a link for an online background check application around 2/13, so it's been about a week since they got my information for their background check.

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john09 (Feb 25, 2018 - 6:37 pm)

FYI folks, BVA will soon be accepting applications for GS-09 attorney positions - no attorney experience is required (i.e., straight out of law school). BVA will also continue to hire at the GS-11 level, but applicants must have at least one year of attorney experience.

Apparently, the Board can't find enough experienced attorneys to hire at the GS-11 level, so management opened up the candidate pool to applicants who are fresh out of law school.

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kramer716 (Feb 25, 2018 - 7:40 pm)

Appreciate the update. May throw my hat into the ring and see what happens. They don't seem to like me so not holding my breath, but can't hurt.

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iulawmatt (Feb 26, 2018 - 12:18 pm)

Interesting development considering that it seems like they get a lot of response to the GS-11 postings.

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sunset7 (Feb 28, 2018 - 8:44 pm)

The GS-9 positions will be for recent graduates who haven’t been admitted to the bar yet. They will be brought on as law clerks. The Board used to do this all the time I guess, it is how one of my judges was hired when he started at the Board in 2008. If an attorney is admitted to the bar, they will still need the one year post admission experience to get an 11.

Also, people I have talked to about the gs-9 position aren’t surprised at all that it has been brought back. The new Chairman started at the Board as a 9, so the older attorneys on my team have told me she has no problem hiring other people at that same level.

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jinomas (Feb 26, 2018 - 8:32 pm)

I have heard that they plan on doing hiring through the summer and only about ten percent on their applicants make it to the writing round.

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iulawmatt (Feb 26, 2018 - 8:54 pm)

Wow, that's a remarkably low rate if accurate.

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john09 (Feb 26, 2018 - 9:07 pm)

Yeah, I call BS on that statistic. Just think about it - If only 10 percent of applicants get through to the writing round, there would need to be thousands of applicants in order for the Board to meet its hiring goals.

The Board is probably hiring attorneys at the GS-09 level because not enough applicants are applying. Keep in mind, the Board doesn't have the best reputation as an employer. I bet most large doc review agencies have quite a few former BVA attorneys on hand who are angry over how they were treated at the Board. I imagine that these former BVA attorneys aren't singing praises about the Board and encouraging people to apply for the position.

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iulawmatt (Feb 26, 2018 - 9:19 pm)

All I know is that I'm two and a half weeks waiting on hearing whether I get an interview. I've got a friend from law school who has been there for four years, hasn't had an issue with production and recommended I apply, and I'm really looking forward to hearing back.

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downwardslope (Feb 26, 2018 - 10:41 pm)

Isn’t the writing test new with this hiring wave? If so, it could explain a lot. If no one is making it through to the writing test, then they might very well need thousands of applicants. However, I am not seeing that happening with a GS-11 position since some experience is required and most people who have any sort of permanent job already would be stupid to give it up for a job where they’d likely be fired within a year for production issues or be working ridiculous hours in order to meet the quota. The only people who might want to take it are people who are in doc review who are already in DC or people in term positions that are definitely ending (and who are already in DC), but other than that, there just isn’t an appeal for an experienced attorney.

At least with GS-9 you are likely to find people with little experience or no experience who might be willing to give it a whirl to get their foot in the door. They’re also let likely to be savvy about the agency reputation...

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sunset7 (Feb 28, 2018 - 8:50 pm)

There you go again, talking about things you know nothing about. The Board is hiring gs-9s because not enough QUALIFIED applicants are applying, it has nothing to do with number of applicants. The November announcement closed 2 days early because the Board received TOO many applicants.

As someone who did large scale doc review for years before starting at the Board, I can guarantee that “treatment” at the Board is better than anything I received during my doc review days.

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dcm1983 (Feb 28, 2018 - 9:14 pm)

Are you saying that most of the applicants were not qualified for GS-11 based on the typical USAJOBS requirements (1 year of attorney experience or law review/moot court)? Or, are you suggesting that the experienced applicant pool was not sufficiently impressive?

If you're suggesting new law school grads would be more qualified to do the work generally than experienced attorneys, I'd say you're very mistaken. Success at the Board is based very much on skill sets that aren't taught in law school.

The Board is clearly better than document review from my perspective.

However, it is debatable for some people. If you land a Full-time, long term doc review job paying 32+ dollars per hour and you get 1.5 OT over 40, you're going to be pulling better money per hour for a while doing much easier work compared to the GS-11/12 attorneys at the Board.

Working at the Board fresh out of law school is a great opportunity, and it's good they are extending that opportunity to attorneys fresh out of law school. However, GS-9 in DC is not enough money to really live unless you're willing and able to split the cost with roommates. Law school grads with law review or moot court on their resume can start at GS-11 in federal jobs.

The Board needs people that can hit the ground running. Experienced attorneys are far more likely to be able to do that than people fresh out of law school. GS-9s new graduates are going to have a harder time with this, but on the other hand they will be paid less so it's perhaps less a financial drain on the board.

As far a treatment goes, the morale of the Board attorneys was in the mud for the last year, and we're losing a lot of good people to other federal jobs and jobs in the private sector. It's not doc review or the board. People do have options, and the Board needs to be competitive and care about attorney retention and hiring quality people.

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john09 (Feb 28, 2018 - 10:02 pm)

sunset7 - Take a look at my posting on Feb. 25 - I said exactly the same thing as you.

Also, I don't think your doc review comparison is fair. Yes, your experiences at the Board may be much better than your years in doc review. But, perhaps your experiences in doc review may have desensitized you to crappy treatment and impacted your sense of self-worth. Your transition is more akin to a homeless person who finds warmth and shelter in a dumpster. Both situations are unenviable, but at least the dumpster is better than being exposed to the elements, right? Perhaps, with time and lots of love and support, your sense of self-worth will improve, and you will see the Board for what it truly is - a sh*thole.

dcm1983 - I wouldn't recommend the Board to fresh law school grads. If a fresh law school grad gets fired, what will he or she do next? Getting fired soon after graduation is definitely not a good start to a legal career.

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legaleagle223 (Feb 27, 2018 - 9:42 pm)

Any news on start dates? What is the current morale at the board like? Have any more people been let go recently, or are the firings over now?

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wickerpark (Mar 1, 2018 - 5:52 pm)

Some people selected from the November posting are starting this Monday 3/5 with the next starting dates after that on April 2 and sometime in mid April.

I would also be interested in finding out more about current morale.

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somefed (Mar 2, 2018 - 9:21 am)

It depends on who you ask. People who can do the work quickly and make the goal are happy;those who are struggling with the goal are feeling stressed. Because we work by ourselves,it is difficult to know how others are managing with the new production goals. There are a few people who have been outspoken about not being able to make the goals, mostly due to getting cases with a lot of claims on appeal. Generally a case with a higher number of claims in it is more time consuming.

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startupesq (Mar 1, 2018 - 5:17 pm)

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/492702900

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readyforachange706 (Mar 2, 2018 - 9:16 am)

Anyone, referred on or around February 9th, heard anything or gotten an interview?

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iulawmatt (Mar 2, 2018 - 9:45 am)

Nothing for me yet. I'm hoping to hear something in the next few business days since we're three weeks out from referral.

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jinomas (Mar 6, 2018 - 12:39 pm)

Last week they scheduled interviews and writing tests on the same day, in the interests of easier scheduling.

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readyforachange706 (Mar 6, 2018 - 12:47 pm)

when did they call for interviews?

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iulawmatt (Mar 6, 2018 - 12:52 pm)

I think what he meant is that they had interviews and writing tests scheduled on the same day. Seems as though he has some inside knowledge from prior posts. Haven't heard anything about interviews yet here, one way or the other.

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silvere2 (Mar 6, 2018 - 12:55 pm)

Thanks Matt. I haven't heard anything yet here either.

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jinomas (Mar 6, 2018 - 9:23 pm)

02/23: Email notification of selection for an interview.
02/26&27: Interview/writing tests.
No phone call this time.

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silvere2 (Mar 6, 2018 - 9:57 pm)

Jinomas--for which announcement, if you know?

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jinomas (Mar 7, 2018 - 8:58 am)

January. On the same day as my interview selection email came, my USAjobs.gov application for the October announcement was updated to "not selected."

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iulawmatt (Mar 7, 2018 - 8:19 am)

Congratulations. Did you apply in January?

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silvere2 (Mar 6, 2018 - 12:53 pm)

So interview invites went out for the latest announcement that closed? Because if so, :(

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iulawmatt (Mar 7, 2018 - 8:49 am)

I have to imagine (hope?) that they don't send literally every interview offer at the same time. In any case, I emailed the contact address as a follow-up and I'm probably going to put in for the new posting when I get home tonight.

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jinomas (Mar 7, 2018 - 8:59 am)

I agree.

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silvere2 (Mar 7, 2018 - 9:20 am)

I'll do the same. Would you mind posting here when (if?) you hear back?

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iulawmatt (Mar 7, 2018 - 9:39 am)

I just talked with my friend who currently works at the Board. He said that (as per his supervisor) the interviews that happened recently were from a prior posting and that they have not started scheduling interviews from the January posting.

Maybe it's possible that Jinomas got the interview on the earlier posting but they closed it out because of the January application being a duplicate.

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silvere2 (Mar 7, 2018 - 9:46 am)

Yeah maybe. I do find it weird that none of the rest of us got an interview. I should be more than qualified, at least on paper. But I know that this kind of thing is kind of a crapshoot. I'm having second thoughts on whether to apply for the second posting, I don't want to annoy them with a duplicate application either. I guess I'll sleep on it and then decide.

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iulawmatt (Mar 10, 2018 - 2:20 pm)

I went ahead and applied. It's been a month and a half since I submitted my last application and I don't want to get left out of the first batch of referrals holding out hope for an interview that might never come. I assume that they probably get multiple re-applications from these types of repostings.

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silvere2 (Mar 10, 2018 - 3:51 pm)

Yeah, you're right, it's better to be safe than sorry. I'm going to do the same. I still do think that they might be sending out more invites for this batch though, because "Whynot" said above, while discussing the October 2017 applications, that "Interviews have started for some and more will be scheduled over the next several weeks." Which means that, at least before, they've sent out interview requests in multiple batches.

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iulawmatt (Mar 10, 2018 - 4:20 pm)

Absolutely, that's a very real possibility, and probably the most likely scenario. And the worst thing that happens is we get interviews on the January application and the March one goes away.

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cu014628 (Mar 7, 2018 - 12:18 pm)

Received firm offer yesterday for April 2nd start date.

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iulawmatt (Mar 7, 2018 - 12:27 pm)

Congratulations!

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readyforachange706 (Mar 7, 2018 - 12:36 pm)

Congrats!

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cu014628 (Mar 7, 2018 - 5:00 pm)

Thanks. Was just trying to let people know it is happening.

I applied November (?) and all other times were consistent with others that posted from that timeframe.

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downwardslope (Mar 9, 2018 - 7:33 pm)

It seems like they’ve now moved on to posting a temporary 14-month GS-9 law clerk trainee job. What is going on?

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whynot (Mar 9, 2018 - 8:36 pm)

The Board is hiring both admitted attorneys, and law school grads who have not yet been admitted. It's a way to expand the applicant pool. The temporary law clerk GS-9 position converts to an attorney-advisor position with a career ladder to GS-14 once the law clerk is admitted to a state bar. The 14-month appointment allows essentially 2 cracks at the bar exam, maybe 3 depending on timing.

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buttertasting (Mar 9, 2018 - 10:00 pm)

Would you happen to know when someone interviewed February 26-27 should expect an offer or a status change to not selected?

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iulawmatt (Mar 9, 2018 - 10:54 pm)

Butter, were you a January applicant as well?

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jinomas (Mar 14, 2018 - 3:13 pm)

The writing test proctor said a week or two, so hopefully by the end of this week because two weeks from the 27th was yesterday.

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iulawmatt (Mar 10, 2018 - 12:48 am)

I made an assumption above that the Board had not yet called in all of those applicants from the January application who might be getting interviews. Is that a reasonable assumption, or have all invites gone out and no contact means no go?

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cu014628 (Mar 9, 2018 - 10:45 pm)

Buttertasting;

While I do not know the answer to your question. I think I was interviewed in late December and and you can scroll up to see my preliminary offer date and firm offer date. I start April 2nd.

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buttertasting (Mar 10, 2018 - 6:37 am)

Thank you! Found it

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somefed (Mar 14, 2018 - 5:50 am)

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/492702900

Board still hiring clerks at GS9, open until June 1

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somefed (Mar 14, 2018 - 5:50 am)

Admin please delete

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somefed (Mar 14, 2018 - 5:50 am)

Double post. Admin please delete

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somefed (Mar 14, 2018 - 5:50 am)

Double post

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iulawmatt (Mar 14, 2018 - 6:08 pm)

Has anyone gotten notification of selection got an interview since Feb. 23 or thereabouts? Hoping they're doing a second round of interviews soon.

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iulawmatt (Mar 14, 2018 - 7:23 pm)

This was on my phone so I apparently either fell victim to auto-correct or fat fingers. What I meant to ask was whether anyone had gotten notification of being selected for an interview since the end of February. Over a month since referral to the agency and radio silence since then for me.

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silvere2 (Mar 14, 2018 - 10:26 pm)

You're probably sick of seeing my name, but nothing here either.

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iulawmatt (Mar 15, 2018 - 12:13 am)

Nah, not sick of you at all. Just trying to gather information. My buddy said it was two months from the time he submitted his application until he got contacted for an interview so I'm still holding out hope.

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pisces213 (Mar 15, 2018 - 11:39 am)

For the previous round, it took me a full month since referral to get a phone interview.

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iulawmatt (Mar 15, 2018 - 11:58 am)

Thanks for the insight Pisces. The waiting is the hardest part right now.

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john09 (Mar 15, 2018 - 11:32 pm)

For your reading pleasure, Politico published an article about VA.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/12/trump-is-trying-to-fix-the-vabut-its-backfiring-217348

The article contains a paragraph that pertains to the Board. Apparently, the head of the VA Accountability Office started an investigation against Doug Massey (the current president of the union at the Board - AFGE 17) after he complained about a supervisor at the Board. If the VA Accountability Office, which is meant to protect whistleblowers, is going after union officials for reporting abuse, I can't begin to imagine what the rank and file at VA go through. I hope you all know what you are getting yourselves into!

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john09 (Mar 15, 2018 - 11:34 pm)

See also this link - letter from six members of Congress to Secretary Shulkin

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4406904-2018-02-26-Letter-to-Shulkin-Re-Whistleblower.html

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john09 (Mar 15, 2018 - 11:44 pm)

Here is another letter from a member of Congress concerning the toxic work environment at VA.

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/media/minority-media/mccaskill-calls-for-answers-from-va-over-whistleblower-retaliation-claims

You may not consider yourself to be a whistleblower now, but if you report abuse (i.e., your judge is harassing you, screaming at you or belittling you, cursing you out, etc.), you will be a whistleblower under the law and in the eyes of VA. Though such behaviors are limited to a few judges at the Board, if you end with one of these judges, you will be stuck with that judge, and management will do everything to fire you or get you to quit. It's the luck of the draw. Wanna play?

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jinomas (Mar 16, 2018 - 8:02 pm)

Thanks for sharing the the source documents.

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toosexyformygrade (Mar 16, 2018 - 7:20 pm)

John09 again...

You mentioned you're not applying for these positions and you don’t work for the Board, you’re at SSA right? Apparently, your wife does (or did?) work for the Board and because of her poor experience, you feel some kind of compulsion to be on this board s%&t-talking the BVA at every turn. You imply it’s because of some altruistic dedication to letting others about the negatives of a job you’ve never done, but I don’t buy that you’ve posted on here dozens of times over the course of many months because of some genuine desire to inform. Instead, it looks like it’s become a little pet project of yours to take on your wife’s employer.

I would understand if you occasionally chimed in based on your wife’s experiences, I guess all information has some value, but your comments are all over this board and the vitriol is pretty clear. At least notareallawyer admitted to having psychological issues which explain his/her posts, but what is your deal?

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john09 (Mar 17, 2018 - 5:51 pm)

You may disagree with the tone of my messages, but my characterizations of the Board are consistent with what others had said. I also support my statements with relevant documents.

All I am saying is that anyone who joins the Board is risking the possibility that he or she may get placed with a judge who has a reputation for harassing and bullying subordinates. Though the majority of judges at the Board are fine, there are number of judges at the Board who have terrible reputations, and management will retaliate against you if you complain.

Is this possibility worth the GS-14 potential? It depends on your risk tolerance, coupled with the fact that the production standard at the Board is hard to meet within a 40-hour work week. As others have said before, management doesn't care if you are a new attorney or 30 year attorney, your job is equally at risk throughout your time at the Board.

Focus on the content of my messages, not the tone.

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legaleagle223 (Mar 17, 2018 - 11:33 pm)

Once you get past the 2 year probation, don't you have job security? Or, are all employees at-will now at VA? How many mistakes would you need to make before they fire you at VA? Do permanent employees at other fed agencies have a lot more job security at VA (e.g., GS 13 permanent employee at another fed agency looking to get a 14 at VA-does that move make sense?

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legaleagle223 (Mar 16, 2018 - 9:40 pm)

Thanks-is it really risky to accept a job offer at VA? What are the odds someone lasts long enough to make it to GS 14? How many mistakes do they tolerate/how far behind on production can you be before you get fired at VA?

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somefed (Mar 18, 2018 - 8:33 am)

Legaleagle223,

There is slightly more security as an experienced attorney. Experienced attorneys are not exactly at will but can be removed more easily than in the past. Board attorneys are rated based on a defined goal of cases per year. In the past, if you were failing the goal, you had an opportunity for a performance improvement plan to show that you could make the numbers. Under the Accountability Act, performance improvement plans were eliminated. So, if an experienced attorney fails the goal for a given year, the attorney can be removed.

We also receive evaluations halfway through the year. One question that has come up is whether attorneys can be removed after a mid-year evaluation for failing to progress toward the goal. It is unknown since this is our first full year with the Accountability Act.

As far as new attorneys, they can be fired at any time during probation if they are not doing well on production or failing to produce satisfactory work. So the difference is that experienced attorneys who are past probation currently have the year to make the goal, while new attorneys are at risk for removal at any time during probation if they don't show good production and quality.

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legaleagle223 (Mar 18, 2018 - 9:24 am)

Thanks somefed. How risky of a move would it be for a current fed employee at another agency to make move to VA (e.g., GS 13 permanent employee at another fed agency looking to make move to VA to get GS 14)? Would you say the risks are legitimate (they are indeed firing folks there)? Say that you get a judge that you don't get along with for whatever reason-if you are off probation at VA and your judge doesn't like you, can you get fired prior to evaluations coming out (e.g., your judge gives you bad grades on your work to get you fired, and then they fire you right after you get some bad grades on your work rather than waiting for yearly or mid-year appraisals?

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john09 (Mar 18, 2018 - 10:00 am)

@legaleagle223

If you are a permanent GS-13 employee at another agency, you should stay there. As somefed indicated, the VA Accountability Act removed a lot of civil service protections for VA employees. Yes, you have more rights as a non-probationary VA employee, but that simply means VA has to give you 7 days of notice and an opportunity to reply within that period before removing you.

Politico recently criticized VA for using the VA Accountability Act to remove low level employees, rather than the senior managers who set the culture for the agency. Essentially, there is a witch hunt mentality at VA, and, as a result, a number of my former SSA colleagues have been forced to resign from the Board.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/12/trump-is-trying-to-fix-the-vabut-its-backfiring-217348

Also, somefed is correct in saying that one big question that is currently on the minds of a lot of Board employees is whether attorneys can be removed at the mid-year evaluation point. From what I understand, the answer to that question will come next month when Board attorneys receive their mid-year review.

I'm not entirely convinced that non-probationary attorneys have the entire year to meet the production standard. I mean, didn't somefed say that there is a question as to whether attorneys can be removed after a mid-year evaluation? I don't know the answer. But, the answer will come soon enough.

Also, if you join the Board, you will have to go back down to a GS-11, step 1. It will take approximately five years or so to move up to a GS-14.

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somefed (Mar 18, 2018 - 11:40 am)

The risks are very legitimate. Most people are stressed now. I would say that the most important thing is to hit your production numbers. You do not want to have a reputation as a consistently low producer. However, just turning in the cases is not enough; the quality has to be good.

Judges are very pressed for time and they lose patience when someone submits cases with a lot of mistakes. By mistakes, I mean grammatical errors or factual and legal errors with respect to the record.

I do not think an experienced attorney can be fired prior to an evaluation, but I am not sure. It has not specifically been articulated when the removal action can be brought against a non probationary employee. However, my feeling is that the employee who is past probation would be moved to a different judge if there was a really bad working relationship with a judge. They might have a better chance if the track record was positive. That said, it really depends on the manager and the situation. Sometimes mismatches happen, and the attorney just has to stick it out.

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downwardslope (Mar 18, 2018 - 1:00 pm)

Why on earth would anyone leave a gs-13? Don’t all attorneys at BVA have to start at gs-11? So you step back two steps and take years to get to gs-14 when you could presumably just apply to gs-14 and probably get hired for that in that time with less risk. Or get on the ALJ register, for that matter.

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kramer716 (Mar 16, 2018 - 10:17 pm)

I received my rejection email today. I can't even remember when I applied. I know I did but no clue how long it took for them to officially reject me.

Anyway, if I was offered the job I would have come in with a CYA mindset, and by that I mean they give you six months to learn the ropes before they start fitting you for a noose. I would network like crazy and try to get a plan B just in case during those six months.

I should give the disclaimer of I have heard you get the six months grace period from people on here, so I could be off but you guys seem to know what you are talking about.

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iulawmatt (Mar 16, 2018 - 11:55 pm)

Sorry to hear that, Kramer. Are you going to throw your hat back in the ring on the new 09-11 posting from this month?

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somefed (Mar 17, 2018 - 2:06 am)

That sucks Kramer. I would encourage you to try again. They keep sending emails about it, so maybe there are fewer apps this time.

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iulawmatt (Mar 17, 2018 - 11:04 am)

You mean they're sending emails about it inside the agency?

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somefed (Mar 17, 2018 - 11:35 am)

We do receive emails when there is announcement on USA Jobs. We got an email message that the announcement is still open, encouraging us to forward to anyone who might be interested in applying. We do not get any information about the number of applications received.

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kramer716 (Mar 19, 2018 - 6:43 pm)

I will throw my hat into the ring once more. I am working the SBA job, but that will probably end at the end of May so will need a landing spot.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Mar 20, 2018 - 10:21 am)

did you guys see this?:

https://federalnewsradio.com/veterans-affairs/2018/03/under-new-accountability-act-va-employees-fear-one-mistake-will-cost-them-their-jobs/

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pisces213 (Mar 20, 2018 - 10:43 pm)

According to the Adverse Action reports from 2017 and 2018, there were none with the title of "Attorney" that was removed/suspended/demoted from the BVA. There is one "subject matter expert" who was removed from "BVA CO" in August 2017, and one "General Attorney" who was removed from OGC CO in March 2017.

So while I don't doubt the morale is low, it's probably not as bad in terms of job security as the rest of the VA.

https://www.va.gov/accountability/Adverse_Actions_Report.pdf

https://www.va.gov/accountability/Adverse_Actions_Report_2017.pdf

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john09 (Mar 20, 2018 - 11:00 pm)

Don't let the numbers fool you Pisces213. Management at the Board does not like to straight up fire people. If management does not like you, your manager and/or judge will make your life so miserable that you will quit. That's what happened to my wife.

Management will also meet with you and encourage you to quit. They will tell you that if you don't quit, your future will be ruined forever and won't be allowed to work for the government again.

This is the reason why so many people quit rather than get fired, hence the low removal rate.

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john09 (Mar 20, 2018 - 11:07 pm)

That's what happened to the nearly 30 year employee, who was referenced in previous posts. Management told her that if she didn't retire, they would begin the removal process. She submitted her retirement papers the same day.

The union filed a grievance on behalf of that employee and management allowed the employee to return.

Because that employee retired before being fired, the Board can claim that she wasn't fired when in reality they forced her out.

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bvaer (Mar 21, 2018 - 8:05 am)

Long-time BVA employee here, and I can confirm that this is what management does - just make your life a living hell until you leave on your own. There are some good things about this job (fewer and fewer every year though), but management is generally pretty terrible.

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natis11 (Mar 21, 2018 - 11:52 am)

Can you (or any other BVA AA) define/give examples of “living hell”? What is unbearable for some might not be for others. Thanks

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somefed (Mar 21, 2018 - 12:07 pm)

I will give you an example. A 10 issue case with 500 documents gets the same amount of credit as a 1 issue case with 70 documents. You get 1 credit for both, but the 10 issue case took 3 times longer. When you are behind due to the difficulty of completing several multi-issue cases in one week, you will be labeled deficient. You will have to pull unpaid overtime attempting to make this up.

Also,except for Carol Dibattiste, the management has promoted a fearful atmosphere where criticism of every little problem in a case is encouraged. You were considered good by judge number one and made your credits, but now judge number two thinks you are terrible and can ruin your job with bad ratings.

However the cake parties make it all better. (See below).

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john09 (Mar 21, 2018 - 12:25 pm)

To add to somefed's comment, if you complain about judge number two, your manager will retaliate against you for complaining and will fire you at the earliest opportunity.

Senior management won't do anything to help. Essentially, your career and life is in the hands of your current judge - meaning you can be a long time career Board attorney with a stellar reputation among all of your prior judges. But, if your current judge hates you for whatever reason, he or she can get you fired.

Can you imagine how much that would suck? I mean, imagine working at the Board for 10 or 15 years and then encountering a judge who hates you and tries to destroy your career. It would very hard to find a comparable GS-14 position after getting fired (I mean "voluntarily" resigning) from the Board.

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john09 (Mar 21, 2018 - 12:33 pm)

Also, in light of the increased production standard, the atmosphere at the Board is a pressure cooker. My wife has worked for a number of bad tempered judges during her career at the Board. I guarantee you will encounter at least one or more screamers if you stay at least a few years at the Board - hopefully you won't encounter a screamer in your first year, though you'll probably overhear some screaming early on in your career.

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somefed (Mar 21, 2018 - 8:59 am)

As with much of VA, that number does not tell the whole story. (How about those wait times?) Many people had to leave at the end of the fiscal year because they did not make the quota. Their offices were suddenly empty on October 1, with the name sign gone. In the past, an attorney who could not make the quota was put on a performance plan and had 3 months to make up the cases. Under the Accountability Act, attorneys are not given a PIP. They are just told to resign or be fired.

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wolfman (Mar 21, 2018 - 11:07 am)

The more I learn about the VA on this thread, the more I think the entire agency should just be abolished and put under the DoD, with maybe military personnel doing tours of duty and/or career DoD civilian employees taking leadership roles... there has to be a way to do things better than this. I don't mean to go off-topic, but why would anyone work there, especially under the new rules, if they were capable of getting another job?

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somefed (Mar 21, 2018 - 11:35 am)

Wolfman, there are a few good things. Next week, we are going to have a town hall with cake! The cake compensates for the ongoing threat of removal that we face as Board employees.

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john09 (Mar 21, 2018 - 11:58 am)

The reason why the Board is so messed up is because management promotes individuals based on their ability to write a lot decisions without taking into consideration their personalities and/or ability to lead.

Right now, management is full of anti-social people who enjoy the power to make people suffer and destroy their careers/lives at will. Of course, not all managers at the Board are like that, but senior management, particularly in the Office of Veterans Law Judges, have that reputation for good reason. The culture at BVA is one of revenge, retribution, and general hostility towards employees, which is strange because the current managers at BVA rose up from the ranks and know what it is like to be rank and file BVA attorneys. But, I guess the toxic culture keeps continuing because the prior toxic managers at the Board promoted people with the same toxic personalities.

The toxic atmosphere at the Board will not change until the Chairman starts promoting people who actually care about the people they lead (i.e., people like Carol DiBattiste).

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natis11 (Mar 21, 2018 - 1:02 pm)

Maybe I’m misunderstanding but that doesn’t sound like a specific act to make your life a living hell, it just sounds like luck of the draw. If any other BVA AAs have specific examples of how a supervisor can basically make work life unbearable it would be much appreciated.

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john09 (Mar 21, 2018 - 4:22 pm)

I'm not sure what specific acts you are looking for, and, of course, it is the luck of the draw. I mean not every judge at the Board is a bully. In fact, I'm sure most judges at the Board are decent people. However, there are enough bully judges and managers at the Board that you stand a good chance of ending of with one of them. It's essentially a risk/benefit analysis. Is the lure of the job worth the risk that you might end up with a bully judge and/or manager?

If yes, then apply and join. If no, then don't apply or join.

Even if you want to roll the dice, keep in mind that you have to deal with the high production standard, and, from what my wife is currently hearing, the quota will likely go up because the Board is on the verge of rolling out a decision builder tool that is similar to SSA.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Mar 21, 2018 - 9:20 pm)

if the Board increases production quota by another 50 cases per year based on a new template they are using, how hard will it be to make that quota?

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bvaer (Mar 22, 2018 - 2:31 pm)

As already discussed above, your judge and your supervisor have total discretion regarding your case load. All they have to do is keep dumping huge case after huge case on you until you either quit on your own or you're so far behind you're easy to fire. You've got absolutely no say on what cases you're assigned. Certain attorneys have been targeted in this fashion.

The promotion system is also a joke. Specific managers make sure they're always on promotion panels, and pick their own favorites for the promotions. If you're assigned to a manager who doesn't fight to get on a promotion panel, your odds of getting selected are very slim. It's a complete farce based more on kissing up to the right chiefs instead of actual merit.

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somefed (Mar 22, 2018 - 5:43 pm)

Agreed, BVAer. It is very difficult to explain the difficulties of this job in a way that is relatable for people who do not work at the Board.

The easiest way to summarize the problem is that we have a very high production standard that awards the same credit for a case that takes one day as a case that requires one week. This is a good job when you are lucky with your judge but terrible with the judge who creates their own standards. The newest attorneys are most likely to fail in this environment. However, some people are successful from the outset. I would never tell someone NOT to apply to the Board. If you do accept a position,it would be wise to make a friend of an experienced attorney and to be aware that it is important to have good production/quality from the start.

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toosexyformygrade (Mar 23, 2018 - 2:34 pm)

Anyone else starting on 4/2?

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pisces213 (Mar 23, 2018 - 11:04 pm)

I am. They're supposed to give me more documents before I do, but have not heard back yet.

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cu014628 (Mar 27, 2018 - 4:44 am)

Got the reporting instructions yesterday for the 4/2 start.

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toosexyformygrade (Mar 27, 2018 - 9:33 pm)

For the folks who work at the Board,

Are you using laptops? More than one monitor? How is the technology in terms of viewing medical records, can the documents be OCRed for searching?

Do people work in cubicles or an open office environment?

How often do you interact with judges? Is it primarily in person, by phone, IM, email?

Is production monitored continuously? Do you have a program to track that or do you have to keep track of cases per week?

Any info would be appreciated.

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dcm1983 (Mar 27, 2018 - 10:15 pm)

We have laptops and dual monitors. The hardware is fine. The software is a work in progress, but it’s getting a lot better.

As attorneys go on telework, offices open up. Newer attorneys will have to settle for cubes until then. I think most people got an office after a year or less.

Production is monitored by your chief judge and to a lesser extent the judges you write for. Productioning monitoring is a good thing to make sure you don’t get fired later for failing to make your goal.

BVA had a lot of drama over the last year. It was stressful as hell for me for the first year, and a bunch of people who I know had to leave for one reason or another. With that said, things seems more manageable and secure now despite the drama in the news.

I hope the trend continues. The jobs has some pros and cons, but it’s probably better than 80% of legal jobs out there. Note I said legal jobs. Lol...

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somefed (Mar 28, 2018 - 10:31 am)

Toosexyformygrade,

What do you mean by OCR-ing of records? Most of our records are searchable within the individual batch. At the moment, we do not have the ability to search an entire file for specific terms. It is pretty standard to open up a file of medical records- say 100 pages- and type in "knee" or "back" to find records relating to a claim.

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toosexyformygrade (Mar 28, 2018 - 5:38 pm)

Thanks somefed, I guess OCR stands for optical character recognition but I was wondering if the records were searchable, that's good to hear.

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natis11 (Mar 28, 2018 - 9:46 pm)

So I was brainstorming an issue raised earlier about having to work unpaid overtime and that there were no credit hours at the Board (at SSA if you work over 8 hours in a day within the 6:00am - 6:00pm time band you can work “credit” which can be used for leave). I was just thinking... wouldn’t a work around to this be requesting religious comp time (XYZ hours of leave needed, to be paid back after return); then paying it back in the following weeks during the extra time you’re ALREADY (allegedly) putting in to make production? Although you’re not making time and a-half, you could at least take some nice vacations and know you’ll have the extra hours to pay it back when you return.... Sorry if this is confusing, I might have just confused myself, too.

ETA; before John09 jumps down my throat I know this approach would never result in a zero-sum unpaid OT:days of religious comp, the House always wins; but my question is... is this a viable/tested hypo?

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somefed (Mar 28, 2018 - 10:05 pm)

Natis11,

I do not think the Board offers comp time. I could be wrong, though. You have to use your annual leave or sick leave if you want time off. In some cases, unpaid leave may be aporoved, although probably rare.

Any leave time used reduces your quota. I think it works out to 0.5 credit off the quota for every 8 hours of leave used.

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john09 (Mar 28, 2018 - 10:36 pm)

natis

I'm sorry, but your plan to request religious comp time is of no interest to me. I'm mainly concerned about how Board working conditions affect my wife and ultimately my life. While I've tried to provide as much information as possible to help prospective employees make informed decisions, your success or failure is really none of my concern or interest.

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lawwen (Apr 3, 2018 - 12:12 pm)

Has anyone from the February interviews heard back yet?

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natis11 (Apr 3, 2018 - 1:59 pm)

Tentative offer/acceptance today.

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iulawmatt (Apr 11, 2018 - 2:01 pm)

Not like it was terribly surprising but I got my rejection e-mail yesterday. Almost 10 years in practice and I couldn't even get an interview. Kind of discouraging.

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silvere2 (Apr 11, 2018 - 2:26 pm)

Same. T14 school, 5 years in biglaw, straight rejection (not even an interview). Just tired of the law firm grind, not interested in it anymore and I don't want to go in-house. Like...I don't understand what they're looking for. I wrote a custom cover letter showing my interest too.

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izzymandelbaum (Apr 11, 2018 - 2:52 pm)

Warm bodies who won’t leave unless fired/asked to resign for not doing the job. If you have too much experience or a high end education I doubt they would be interested for fear you won’t take job or will leave.

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pisces213 (Apr 27, 2018 - 12:51 am)

From what I saw, most of the new hires were ssa/veterans/public sector. I think there are a few that don’t fall into any of these categories (maybe they have veteran spouses?) but I think the focus was on people who needed little convincing to stay as they would buy into the mission more readily or just have a more public sector mindset.

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somefed (Apr 11, 2018 - 2:59 pm)

Iulawmatt and silvere,

Many of the newest hires are recent law school grads or people just off of clerkship. Maybe management thinks the newer grads will adapt better to the ongoing changes? We recently introduced new decision templates and have had our production requirements change three times in two years.

It seems like they are trying to fill as many jobs as possible at GS-9 as a cost saving measure. Of course that favors new grads who are willing to take the GS 9.

I also think that newer grads are less apt to be dissatisfied working in the big cube farm that the new attorneys are in.

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silvere2 (Apr 11, 2018 - 3:32 pm)

Somefed, thank you for your response, I do appreciate it. This one hurt because I thought my chances would be especially high given the number of openings, but I guess I'll keep on plugging away at those fed jobs and hopefully one day I'll get lucky.

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downwardslope (Apr 12, 2018 - 1:51 pm)

SSA leans toward more experienced. That is probably a better shot for you. Then just move to something else once you get your foot in the door.

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legallybrunette2 (Apr 26, 2018 - 9:26 pm)

I'm going to leave VA for SSA. Can't do it anymore, and I hear it's much more reasonable there. It will be interesting to see how many follow. It would actually be a promotion for any GS-9s.

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somefed (Apr 26, 2018 - 10:10 pm)

Legallybrunette2, are you leaving because of the production standards?

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legallybrunette2 (Apr 26, 2018 - 10:45 pm)

Yes, and job security generally. They use scare tactics and say things like "if you don't like it, then maybe this isn't the job for you." The implication is that you need to shut up and put up with whatever they hand you.

I work so fast to hit the quota that I often feel like I'm not doing a good job from the Veterans. Some of the Veterans wait 5-10 years for our decision, and I have just a few hours to look over the evidence and make a snap judgment. It's not right, and I feel bad about the rush job. I will put in extra hours for the Veteran to the point where I can at least say I looked at the most important evidence. I think I get it right most of the time, but if you wait 5-10 years, do you really want someone rushing through your case to hit a number and not read most of the evidence?

I'm afraid if I stay I won't have any work life balance. With kids, I want a predictable work schedule. If they change my judge from an "easy" judge to a "hard" judge then I might not make my quota even with the extra hours. It's just so unstable and I feel like im just a decision producer instead of a person. It might be like that to some extent at SSA too, but everyone I've talked to from there says they are able to hit the quota comfortably in 40 hours, and they pay you 1.5x your hourly rate for anything you choose to work after that.

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bva123 (Apr 28, 2018 - 12:34 pm)

If anyone is interested, here's a letter dated April 26, 2018 from our union to the Chairman of the Board of Veterans' Appeals regarding the work environment at the Board. I strongly advise you to read the letter if you are currently considering employment at the Board.

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/e5915566-738d-4c5b-bd1a-b33e44b3c6f4

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somefed (Apr 28, 2018 - 2:39 pm)

I was shocked by some of the comments in this survey. Seems like a lot of people cannot meet the current quota.

I am among those who are struggling with the quota, so I feel a little better knowing I am not alone. In my opinion, it is simply not possible to meet the goal if you are actually reading all of the evidence in the claims files.

I think some people can meet the goal if they work for a judge who writes a high number of grants. I think you could also make it if you don't read all of the records. However, failing to read the evidence goes against the Board's mandate of de novo review. The veterans law bar probably loves the new quota, as there will be plenty of errors they can profit from.

For those who started at the Board this month, what do you think so far?

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newkid504 (Apr 29, 2018 - 6:51 pm)

BVA issued me a tentative offer, and I accepted. However, after reading the correspondence sent from the union to the Chairman, I am very concerned about actually taking this job. When I spoke with an attorney who works for BVA, she acted like everything was fine. But the majority of the people seem to dislike it, according to the survey.

Furthermore, after reading the letter from the union, it seems quite strange that people think the job is terrible but only a small number of people are actively looking for a new job. Odd. Seems to me if you hate the job that much, you would be actively pursuing new employment. It also seems unusual that many of the new hires are from SSA, where everyone seems to believe the grass is greener. Are they coming from SSA to BVA because they are seeking more pay???

At this point, I don't know what to do--accept or decline the official offer.

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john09 (Apr 29, 2018 - 7:30 pm)

A lot of people leave SSA to go to VA due to the lure of the GS-14 potential. I think the low promotion potential at SSA is the number one reason for the exodus from SSA to VA.

I also think that the GS-14 salary is one of the main reasons why people are reluctant to leave VA. If you are a GS-13 or GS-14 at VA, would you leave VA to go to a GS-11 position at SSA? I don't think most people would leave - as the pay difference is quite significant, especially for people with families to support. I'm guessing that BVA attorneys with families to support would rather stay and deal with the stress than lower the standard of living for their families.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Apr 29, 2018 - 9:46 pm)

but job security is greater at ssa (they don't have the ssa accountabilty act)-the guaranteed job security is probably worth a grade or 2 if you want to put a monetary value on it

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pisces213 (Apr 29, 2018 - 8:00 pm)

I would accept unless you are happy with where you are at. Bottom line is, a job is a job and not everyone will be happy, especially since they all have different expectations.

For me, the job is better than most at the entry level, with the potential to be a great job down the line if you happen to have what it takes. Why? Your efficiency, flexibility, and salary will increase over time but your responsibilities won’t.

Also, if you aren’t already a federal employee, having your foot in the door won’t hurt in case you do want to seek other opportunities.

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john09 (Apr 29, 2018 - 8:10 pm)

Out of curiosity pisces213, didn't you join the Board just last week or the week before that?

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pisces213 (Apr 30, 2018 - 6:34 am)

Yes. Was doing temp work immediately before and it’s definitely a step up from doing that ;)

Like i said, different expectations. If I were working for a different agency or had a private sector job that paid more, I probably would have stayed put (tbh, I probably wouldn’t even have applied since I’m not the type to constantly look).

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somefed (Apr 29, 2018 - 8:11 pm)

Newkid504,

It is hard to give advice about whether to accept an offer. It works out very well for many people. You don't know unless you try it.

That being said, I tell my friends not to apply to the Board. Mostly I am worried that they would get fired and blame me for bringing them there.

As to why more Board employees do not report seeking work, if you have been at the Board for a couple of years you develop an ability to survive and make the quota.

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bva123 (Apr 29, 2018 - 9:05 pm)

somefed - I agree with you 100 percent.

The union did a great job of highlighting some of the current problems at the Board related to the quota. However, the biggest problem at the Board is the mistreatment of attorneys (i.e., some chiefs and judges try to make attorneys fail in order to make themselves look good). Specifically, chiefs and judges who have low production numbers tend to blame the attorneys for their low production numbers so they don't get demoted. Of course, not all chiefs and judges are like that, but there is a chance you may end up with either an abusive chief or a judge.

Regarding the quota, I think it is attainable if: 1) you get assigned to a judge with a high grant rate (it takes much less time to write a grant); 2) you are willing to work unpaid overtime every week; or 3) you are willing to take shortcuts such as not reading all of the records.

In summary, if you have a stable job, stay there. If you are doing doc review, you have nothing to lose by joining the Board - after all, you can return to doc review if you get fired.

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newkid504 (Apr 29, 2018 - 10:01 pm)

I'm in a clerkship that ends in 6 months.

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somefed (Apr 30, 2018 - 6:00 am)

The union asked what our biggest stressor at the Board is. My biggest stressor is not the quota but rather the harassing and sometimes intimidating attitude of management.

The attorneys know that some chiefs and judges tolerate or perpetuate harassment to make themselves look good. It is a small number of people, but the problem is well-known. In many of those cases, management looks the other way and does nothing to address the problem. The lack of psychological safety is much more stressful than the production numbers.

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bvaer (Apr 30, 2018 - 7:54 am)

Wait until you try to get promoted and you find out how corrupt that process is. Then you'll have a new biggest stressor!

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newkid504 (Apr 30, 2018 - 8:57 am)

I thought the promotion process was standard, meaning after a year you become a 12. Am I wrong?

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bvaer (Apr 30, 2018 - 11:20 am)

No, I mean if you want to advance to Senior Counsel or Judge. Generally, the grade increases for attorneys are pretty standard, but that hasn't stopped some managers from finding ways to screw over attorneys by delaying their increases. Some managers just like to show off their power making people's lives miserable for no good reason.

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pam145 (May 26, 2018 - 10:34 am)

Has anyone interviewed from the April 1-June 1 opening on USA jobs .gov? Did you here back yet?

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steaknlobster (Jun 6, 2018 - 11:38 pm)

I applied during the March deadline, was referred to a hiring manager and haven't heard a thing since.

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newkid504 (May 26, 2018 - 6:43 pm)

Folks currently at BVA, how are things right now? No one hasn't been posting lately.

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izzymandelbaum (May 27, 2018 - 8:05 am)

They are all fired by now lol

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newkid504 (May 27, 2018 - 1:10 pm)

are you really joking or are you being somewhat serious?

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izzymandelbaum (May 29, 2018 - 11:29 am)

50/50

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formerbvaer (May 27, 2018 - 3:49 pm)

I left the BVA because I found it to be a terrible work environment with no supports for new attorneys and zero growth potential. I'm still in touch with some of the folks I met there though. The first year attorneys (those who started last summer) just had their first mid-year reviews, so morale seems kinda low. Some people are definitely meeting their goals, but working their asses off; 10-12 hour days, Saturdays, and skipping lunch is the norm. It's impossible to achieve the quota working 9-5 M-F unless you're some kind of savant.

The Board is hiring GS-9s because its last hiring wave failed to achieve the recruitment numbers Board management wanted, and the attrition rate from last summer's classes has been unexpectedly high. An unusual number of people quit before they were even on production, and even more left after they started on it.

Also, just be aware that the BVA's recruiting team is monitoring this thread, so be careful what you say in terms of identifying details in case you want to get a job there or you're currently a BVA attorney.

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john09 (May 27, 2018 - 7:07 pm)

You don't have to be a savant to meet the quota. All you need is a judge with a high grant rate.
Case in point - a friend of my wife is actually exceeding the quota because her judge has a very high grant rate and since it takes only a fraction of the time to write a grant, she can crank out grants like a machine.

Now, if your judge denies most of his or her cases or is unusually demanding, the quality of your life will likely be terrible.

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newkid504 (May 27, 2018 - 7:20 pm)

why did you say there is zero growth potential?

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john09 (May 27, 2018 - 7:52 pm)

I'm not sure what formerbvaer meant to say with that comment, but the BVA job has at least some growth potential in that you can get up to GS-14 (assuming you don't get fired). But, after a few years at BVA, your exit options are probably limited to VA benefits or SSA disability jobs.

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formerbvaer (May 28, 2018 - 1:26 pm)

John09 is more or less on point; the skills you learn at BVA are very specific. You're basically trained to be a doc reviewer who can apply slapdash veterans law to a pre-made template decision. If you don't plan on staying at BVA (or the VA generally) for your career, then you don't really get anything out of working there. Your advancement options are all essentially internal to BVA unless you want to go work for one of the big veterans service organizations (which pay significantly less) or a private firm that does disability work. Yeah you get annual grade promotions and you eventually get to GS-14, but your quality of life sucks and you're at the mercy of your chief and your VLJs, who might be toxic. The exit options aren't great the longer you stay. No one outside the government knows what the BVA is, and the skillset you develop there as a GS-14 or higher is too specific to translate into anything meaningful that pays similarly.

I can maybe see the BVA being an okay place for a D.C. area law grad to work for 1-2 years while they look for a real job. (Note - I wouldn't do this as a GS-9, which is what the Board is doing now.) I think a lot of people at the Board fit that profile and do okay. But as it's currently structured, I wouldn't recommend the job to anyone if they want to have a future outside of the BVA. It's simply too volatile and nasty.

Another thing the BVA doesn't tell you is that the attrition rate among senior attorneys in the past two years has been really high, since as production standards have increased, the complex cases have all been funneling to the 13s and 14s, causing them to have a significant increase in working time and stress. A lot of them decide it isn't worth it, and have jumped for better opportunities. That has meant that since there are fewer senior attorneys to handle complex cases, and churn out almost four a week, more and more complex cases have been making their way to more junior attorneys. As a new GS-11 who ends up with a complex 15 issue case with hundreds of documents, good luck meeting that production requirement, even if you have a grant-oriented judge. Can you do it if you skip reading all the files? Sure. And that's what a lot of unethical attorneys and judges at BVA will tell you what to do.

I didn't want to work for the BVA forever, I just wanted to get some federal experience before jumping to another agency and moving into litigation. But I came to see that staying at BVA for several years would actually probably stymie my career progression, and dealing with the bad work environment wasn't worth it. The BVA in D.C. is seen as a sub-par agency for attorneys, which it is, and other agencies know BVA attorneys don't get good experience there. As soon as I got a viable job offer from a good office, I put in my notice.

In terms of meeting the quota, yes having a grant-oriented judge helps. One of my judges was very grant-oriented, and his cases were easier to write as a result. But it's a double edged sword; that same grant-oriented judge would expect super detailed and complex opinions on cases that were deemed denials, so much so that I dreaded writing for this VLJ if the case was going to be a denial. So it's not all dependent on what kind of VLJ you have.

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newkid504 (May 28, 2018 - 2:58 pm)

You stated the skills don't translate into anything meaningful; However, you later said folks at the GS 13/14 level are jumping ship for better opportunities. But how is that, if the skills don't transfer?

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john09 (May 28, 2018 - 3:18 pm)

A lot of GS-13/14 attorneys are jumping ship to private VA disability law firms or nonprofit veterans service organizations. The skills do transfer, but they transfer to VA disability related jobs.

Now, you can try to transfer to other agencies with BVA experience, but you will have to go back in pay grade. Although my wife has interviewed for and received job offers from other agencies, none of the agencies offered my wife her current pay grade. My wife is unable to transfer to a different agency because our family needs her current salary and can't afford our current standard of living if she goes down to a GS-11.

It all depends on how much experience you have PRIOR to joining the Board. Some Board attorneys were associates at big law firms. These attorneys have much easier time transferring to other agencies. If your only legal experience is at the Board, you will have a hard time jumping ship to better opportunities.

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formerbvaer (May 28, 2018 - 5:08 pm)

John09's response is exactly what I meant. The exit options for the more senior attorneys are all VA or disability law related, and if that's not what you want to do, BVA is not a good career choice. Notably, even if you jump ship to one of the VSOs or the private disability firms, it doesn't necessary mean you're going to be making more money. It often means a pay cut, frankly.

For example, I had a job offer from a VSO to be an attorney at one of their places in D.C. representing clients before the BVA and the Court, and it paid less than GS-11. Now, it likely had way less stress and was probably a better place to work than the Board, but the salary was not something someone who has tasted GS-13/14 would probably ever consider. I was also recruited for a job at a disability shop (not in D.C.) that paid in the GS-12 range. But again, I don't want to do disability law, so I didn't seriously entertain these things. I ended up getting a job in my desired practice area based on my internships in law school, and I had to actively downplay my foray into disability law at the BVA as a kind of side-track career experiment.

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newkid504 (May 28, 2018 - 5:27 pm)

What was the name of the disability shop (not in DC)? I am interested in disability law.

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somefed (May 28, 2018 - 9:26 pm)

Formerbvaer,

If you were just applying slapdash veterans law to a template, this is definitely not the job for you. Attorneys at the Board are supposed to analyze the relevant evidence and write a decision applying the current law. Yes, there is a template, but you have to know and understand the law you are citing. You cannot use the template to shortcut your analysis. In addition, there are specialized types of cases that do not have any language in the template.

It is not uncommon for new people at the Board to think that they can copy and paste their way through decisions because the cases are easier at first.

As time goes on, the cases get more complex and a higher level of quality is expected. Attorneys who produce decisions that do not properly analyze the evidence will have a very hard time surviving past the 2-year probation. Judges simply do not have time to correct incomplete or half-assed decisions.

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newkid504 (May 28, 2018 - 9:53 pm)

What is your opinion regarding the environment at BVA?

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somefed (May 29, 2018 - 11:16 am)

The environment as a whole is pretty impersonal and focused on case production. Most people are just working to hit the higher goals. You will not hear much from your manager unless you are behind.

I am not sure about the experiences of the newer attorneys. There are only a couple that I regularly talk to, and they are doing ok.

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newkid504 (May 29, 2018 - 11:47 am)

Yeah, but are they doing okay because they are working long hours?

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izzymandelbaum (May 29, 2018 - 11:48 am)

The attorneys all work unpaid hours there for the most part. Some still struggle.

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john09 (May 30, 2018 - 8:57 pm)

FYI, per Trump's executive order, federal agencies can no longer agree to erase, remove, alter, or withhold information such as adverse personnel actions (i.e., terminations due to poor performance or misconduct).

You can no longer resign in lieu of termination. Management can no longer promise or give clean records to individuals who resign to avoid an adverse personnel action. Anyone who gets fired will be stuck with a permanent adverse notation on his on her record. Trump's executive order affects all federal employees, but those at the Board are especially at risk because terminations are so commonplace there.

BEWARE IF MANAGEMENT PROMISES TO GIVE YOU A CLEAN RECORD IF YOU RESIGN. THE EXECUTIVE ORDER PROHIBITS SUCH ACTIONS.

See link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-promoting-accountability-streamlining-removal-procedures-consistent-merit-system-principles/

Sec. 5. Ensuring Integrity of Personnel Files. Agencies shall not agree to erase, remove, alter, or withhold from another agency any information about a civilian employee’s performance or conduct in that employee’s official personnel records, including an employee’s Official Personnel Folder and Employee Performance File, as part of, or as a condition to, resolving a formal or informal complaint by the employee or settling an administrative challenge to an adverse personnel action.

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steaknlobster (Jun 6, 2018 - 11:45 pm)

Does anyone know anything about being referred to a hiring manager and the timeline? I applied during the March opening, was referred in the middle of April, and here it is beginning of June and I have not heard a thing back.

For safe measure I also applied during the June opening.

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silvere2 (Jun 7, 2018 - 12:11 am)

Unrelated as I don't know the answer to your question--there's a June VA opening?

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steaknlobster (Jun 7, 2018 - 1:20 am)

One opening closed 3/29, reopened again a few weeks later, and just closed on 6/1.

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4givemyloans (Jun 7, 2018 - 12:53 am)

Same here

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pam145 (Jun 7, 2018 - 10:03 pm)

I was referred for the closing for June 1. Interview April writing sample April applied end of March; offer yesterday

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jinomas (Jun 8, 2018 - 8:19 am)

Congratulations.

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4givemyloans (Jun 8, 2018 - 9:27 am)

Congrats Pam. Did you apply to the GS-9 or the GS-11?

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pam145 (Jun 8, 2018 - 7:44 pm)

I applied to both. The offer was for gs9 I have over 2+ years of experience. I didn’t accept

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jinomas (Jun 8, 2018 - 8:15 pm)

Do you have federal experience? If so, did you negotiate a step increase? GS-09, Step 8, pays more than GS-11, Step 1.

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pam145 (Jun 9, 2018 - 7:29 am)

No federal expierence but had clerkship and private practice. I declined and accepted the ssa

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mera88 (Jun 11, 2018 - 10:19 pm)

does the entry-level law clerk position have the same quota system as the attorney position?

And have things improved at the VA?

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kramer716 (Jun 13, 2018 - 4:48 pm)

Just an FYI. I was not referred for the GS-9 opening, but I was referred for the GS-11 one. No clue why. I won't be pursuing the position, but I thought it was odd. Good luck to those who applied.

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steaknlobster (Jun 13, 2018 - 9:16 pm)

I was notified earlier that I was referred again for the GS-09 position. I was referred during the last opening but never heard anything.

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somefed (Jun 14, 2018 - 9:35 am)

Mera88,

The GS-9 law clerk has the same quota. However, the GS-9 attorneys generally have easier cases than experienced attorneys.

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jaystakes (Jul 3, 2018 - 7:17 pm)

Is hiring still going on or can we assume if we didn't get it then we're out?

updates?

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john09 (Jul 3, 2018 - 7:45 pm)

The Board is ALWAYS hiring new attorneys.

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jaystakes (Jul 3, 2018 - 8:29 pm)

Wow, are they planning to expand to other areas besides DC (particularly west coast)?

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john09 (Jul 3, 2018 - 9:33 pm)

The Board is always hiring people because of very high attrition rates - both involuntary and voluntary.

See link: https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/e5915566-738d-4c5b-bd1a-b33e44b3c6f4

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jaystakes (Jul 3, 2018 - 10:05 pm)

yea...I got that from this thread. Sounds like nearly biglaw level stress and hours for less than half the pay. I would basically be interested in joining for a year or so to get a federal government job on my resume before leaving for a different job.

I was bottom 1/3 of my lawschool class at really low ranked school so I don't have high expectations. I failed the bar the first time, and I can't find a job anywhere.

Given the bad reputation and attrition rates, am I competitive if I tell them i'm willing to work a lot of extra hours for nothing?

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karma (Jul 4, 2018 - 10:35 am)

Actually, I'm pretty sure fed employees, at least bargaining unit employees, working unpaid extra hours is officially against federal law. The anti-defiency act, I think might be the name. It comes up everytime there's a government shutdown.

I also wouldn't say that in an interview. It makes it sound like you think you won't be able to meet the quotas, which are supposedly based on a 40-hour work week.

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bvaer (Jul 4, 2018 - 10:53 am)

Don't say you're willing to work a lot of unpaid extra hours. Management likes to pretend their demands are reasonable and employees don't have to work weekends to meet the "fair" share quota, even if a recent employee survey showed that something like 80% are working unpaid hours to meet the quota. If management isn't here on weekends, then they don't have to see all the employees coming in to catch up, and if they don't see it, it never happened!

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john09 (Jul 4, 2018 - 12:07 pm)

I would advise against using the Board as a jumping stone towards other federal positions for two reasons: 1) there is no guarantee that you will survive the first year - the Board removes a lot of first year attorneys prior to the completion of their first year; and 2) the senior attorneys at the Board (i.e., GS-13 and 14) are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the new quota as management expects senior attorneys to handle the hardest cases AND complete the same number of decisions as junior attorney.

Keep in mind that VA can no longer give clean records due to Trump's executive orders. If you get fired, you will have a stain on your record for the remainder of your career.

Management does not care about your seniority or past performance history - you can be a top performing attorney for the last 25 years, but if you fall short of your quota in year 26, management will not hesitate to fire you.

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underemployedlawyer (Jul 4, 2018 - 9:57 am)

Sounds like an unwarranted risk unless you are prepared to work unpaid OT for the rest of your career. Could this job make you marketable for other jobs that you get? If so then it might be worth it

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somefed (Jul 4, 2018 - 11:16 am)

There are rumors that the Chairman plans to increase the quota, even though many are barely making it now. Management absolutely does not care if you work unpaid overtime. They just turn a blind eye to problems and pretend not to notice while sending out tone deaf happy emails. The attorneys laugh at how clueless they come off. Of course they are happy - they don't have an impossible quota.

They also like to award ceremonies and give awards to the same two or three people. That is supposed to help morale. The stupid awards help no one except management. What would help morale is a reasonable quota!

The Chairman will not have a town hall with attorneys with open comments because she does not want to hear about our problems. When attorneys are allowed to ask questions, we conveniently "run out of time" after one or two questions from someone cozy with management. The lack of honest communication is absolutely shameful.

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john09 (Jul 4, 2018 - 12:21 pm)

My wife thinks that the Board's annual goal for next year will exceed 100k.

I agree.

My prediction - the Board will increase the quota to 3.5 cases a week in FY19 so that the Board's annual goal will exceed 100k. I expect the annual goal for FY19 to be in the ballpark of 100k to 115k.

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icaredoyou (Jul 6, 2018 - 11:43 pm)

Buck up, soldiers!

Requiring a full 8 hour work day instead of 2 hours of work and 6 hours of socializing often results in unnecessary unpaid overtime and falling short of the cool quota.

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somefed (Jul 26, 2018 - 10:17 am)

Bumping this thread to see how the new people are doing.

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jklein1990 (Jul 26, 2018 - 4:50 pm)

At a recent hearing, the Chairman provided a description of the day in the life of a Board attorney:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6196&v=AACgoVzBKKg


It starts at 1:43:10.

I think it will give you an accurate view of what the expectations are and if you want to get a bigger picture of issues facing VA and congress, watch the whole thing.

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izzymandelbaum (Jul 26, 2018 - 6:29 pm)

Fired lol. Jk. Well...maybe

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johnattorney (Jul 26, 2018 - 6:53 pm)

Take a look at the FY 2018 survey to see how attorneys at the Board are currently doing (it's quite depressing to say the least).

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/54d0133f-83ff-4891-bb6e-2414e1ce3205

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legaleagle223 (Jul 26, 2018 - 9:15 pm)

oh my!

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tiffer11 (Jul 29, 2018 - 9:00 pm)

OMG, is this real? Some of those attorneys sound borderline suicidal....


I'm kind of desperate for a job, but this sounds really bleak.

Are all federal government jobs this horrible?

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underemployedlawyer (Jul 30, 2018 - 10:29 am)

No. But the low prestige ones are a lot worse than the high prestige fed jobs

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somefed (Jul 26, 2018 - 8:34 pm)

Did the Chairman tell Congress that EVERY case takes 8 hours - even the 10 or 20 issue cases? LOL. Might as well tell the attorneys not to read the files.

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jklein1990 (Jul 27, 2018 - 9:34 am)

in 2016 they experimented with a system with no quota. The numbers tanked and they freaked out. Eventually, they started telling the new attorneys not to read every page of the file, and they fired those who still tried because they could not hit their quotas (because it's impossible to read every page of a 10,000-50,000 page record in 8 hours). I think from the hearing testimony it's clear that congress is now aware of the situation but does not care to act. If the attorneys read every page, the average wait for a decision would be so long that the Veterans would simply die before they got their decision. If the Veteran dies, the attorneys get a full case credit for writing a very easy and short death dismissal.

If the Veterans, VSOs, Congress,and the American People want timely decisions for the Veterans based on reading every page of the record, they would need to the increase the budget dramatically and hire thousands (if not tens of thousands) of attorneys to do the work. The current plan is to hire several hundred.

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somefed (Jul 27, 2018 - 6:05 am)

Just watched it. She testified that we read every page of the file. That is just not possible with our current standard. She also said that some decisions take longer than others. If she is telling that to Congress, why doesn't the production standard recognize it??

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lakerman99 (Jul 29, 2018 - 6:21 pm)

Yes, she lied to congress. It's not believable that a person can read 1k-10k pages in 8-10 hours including writing time even for for a "straight forward case" for an "experienced attorney." Much less the harder multi-issue cases she said would number in the tens of thousands of pages. She probably could have made an argument that the attorneys aren't required by law to read every word, but that isn't the testimony she gave. It's a lie, a very transparent lie. She is lying to our Veterans, and it's disgusting and repulsive.

If you watch the testimony, she seemed extremely uncomfortable answering the question. There was a lot of floundering and stuttering and awkward language selection designed to fudge the facts.

Many of the the Veterans Law Judges have voiced their opinion that the Board should probably not exist and that it is extremely lucky for the Board members that it has survived to date. This comes up at the big meetings. The focus is not on reform or truly fixing anything. It's on delaying the inevitable and maintaining the status quo as long as possible. If you want honest work in a stable environment, don't apply. If you want chaos and lies, go for it.

If the chairman doesn't change her approach quickly, then it might just be best to inform every Veteran in the U.S.A. of the situation via social media, message boards, local news stations, VSO forums, etc. They are grossly uninformed about their appeal rights and what actually goes on in the adjudication of their appeals. The appeal rate from the regional offices is surprisingly low, and the success rate for appeals is quite high for the Veterans that are willing to stick it out. Frankly, the appeal rate could be much higher, and the backlog could be much worse if the Veterans were better informed.

I think we need a serious, national discussion about the Veterans benefits programs. Now. The Veterans deserve it!

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lakerman99 (Jul 29, 2018 - 7:13 pm)

https://mast.house.gov/committees

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somefed (Jul 29, 2018 - 7:14 pm)

I think most of us know it is not possible to read literally every page. However, the people who have waited for years deserve a review that gets to the crux of their claims, identifying the most relevant evidence, and giving a fair and respectful decision. My concern about the current pace is that some attorneys are in such a rush to make the production goal that they only do a cursory review. It is just not right to blow through cases to just say you made a certain number in a year.

I am curious, though, if the Board was eliminated, how would that help veterans? A lot of veterans get a grant at the Board. Would cases then just be sent from the regional office to the Court? Would the regional office do a better job applying the law than the Board? Just wondering - not arguing with your post.

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lakerman99 (Jul 29, 2018 - 7:24 pm)

It is important that the Veterans have knowledge of how their appeals are actually handled. The current structure of the Board cannot effectively serve Veterans. The Board members are centrally based in Washington, D.C. and are not capable of effectively providing timely hearings and de novo reviews of the record for our veterans, who are spread out across the nation.

The Board needs to be restructured and appropriately funded. Ideally, there would be no need for two levels of review. The Veterans would be best served if the regional offices got it right on the initial adjudication of the claim. Under the appeals modernization system, they can appeal to a higher level adjudicator if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the appeal. It may be vastly more efficient and cost effective to taxpayers and Veterans to simply have the VLJs fulfill that role in locally based regional offices rather than Decision Review Officers. There are too many levels of review with the same de novo standard in the Veterans system.

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formerbvaer (Aug 1, 2018 - 5:55 pm)

Let's be honest, the Board's mission isn't to purely serve veterans and give them a warm and fuzzy about due process. It's to enforce a benefit program's laws and regulations and protect the treasury against bogus claims, albeit with a really generous standard of review. The appeals process is way to complicated as it's currently constituted, and it's going to take an act of Congress to drastically address the problems.

One big reform they could make would be to presumptively service connect way more conditions than they already do. Congress did it with Agent Orange; they could easily do it with a lot of other stuff like PTSD, chronic knee problems, hearing loss, etc. Or heck, presumptively service connect the vast majority of the big claimed conditions.

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dcm1983 (Aug 1, 2018 - 11:21 pm)

Here's a better plan: (1) Medicare for all. (2) Replace the partial disability system with a guarantee of suitable civilian federal employment with a pay and benefits package comparable to or better than what was earned during service (3) pay the 100% disability rate if a suitable job cannot be found (4) offer and incentivize vets entitled under the old system to opt into the new system.

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rissa (Aug 15, 2018 - 7:20 pm)

They're starting to check on everyone's production at the board. Last year when they did this, they sent dozens of emails to people who were behind that they could either resign or be fired. If the plan is to do another round of mass firing this year under a quota that is 30-40% higher than last year, those fired attorneys and their friends will respond by exposing the Board. Mass firings aren't necessary, and the Board can achieve it's annual goal this year without that drama. If there are mass firings, the attorneys will take their concerns directly to the veterans and the larger public in a very quick and effective manner.

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underemployedlawyer (Aug 16, 2018 - 9:35 am)

Don’t think that public will have much sympathy with lawyers

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rissa (Aug 16, 2018 - 10:25 am)

Awww...you misunderstand. I'm sorry. The attorneys aren't going to complain that their working conditions suck, they're going to make it clear to the veterans that after waiting five years for their decisions to be heard, the attorneys often don't have time to review the evidence and are basically forced to do whatever they can do get a quick case credit (or be fired). If they're lucky, the veterans will get an extremely generous and short grant based on terrible evidence (bad for the taxpayer). More likely, the case will be remanded (creating a huge delay) multiple times until either the Veteran dies or the attorneys give up and grant it after 10-20 years (even worse for the taxpayer). If they're not lucky, they'll get a denial based on extremely cursory review of their evidence (which doesn't seem fair to our vets).

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john09 (Aug 18, 2018 - 7:20 pm)

To be brutally honest, I think the Board will only change when an attorney commits suicide due to his or her inability to meet the quota. Based on some of the comments in the union survey, I wouldn't be surprised if someone decides to jump off the rooftop in September or October - only then will senior VA management step in to control the damage (negative publicity).

The same thing happened on Wall Street - bank intern committed suicide due to grueling hours, bank responds by limiting work hours for interns and employees.

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bvaer (Aug 20, 2018 - 8:22 pm)

There were two suicides at the Board in the last five years. Didn't change anything. Of course, no one knows if these were related to workplace conditions, so I'm sure management wasn't going to lose much sleep over the loss of a few easily-replaceable attorneys.

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somefed (Aug 21, 2018 - 10:51 am)

It is beyond sad to think that anyone at the Board has been desperate enough to take their own life. I would sincerely hope that someone at VA would care to do something to make sure this does not happen again.

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underemployedlawyer (Aug 21, 2018 - 11:06 am)

Countless desperate people to fill the slots. Nobody cares about lawyers.

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legallybronze93 (Aug 27, 2018 - 6:45 pm)

Hey everyone, I was just offered an attorney advisor position but I also have a clerkship at the state level (just circuit court) I thought I might leave my clerkship for this better opportunity but your stories are making me reconsider. thoughts?

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formerbvaer (Aug 27, 2018 - 8:03 pm)

The Board isn't for everybody, and I think it attracts a very specific type of attorney who ends up doing fine there. It's a good job for introverts who like formulaic legal writing and who can cope with production. It's a horrible job for extroverted attorneys who like being in the courtroom, problem-solving, and advocacy. Separate and apart from all of the work climate issues at the BVA, the job really does feel quite cold and devoid of meaning, but that's just my personal opinion. I'm more or an introvert, so I thought I would like it, but I hated the non-advocacy aspects of it, and the production elements of the job just stressed me out beyond belief.

The determinative factor for me though was the work climate. Everyone was so stressed all the time, which led to a kind of feedback loop of work-panic. Judges couldn't care less about attorney training or development, they only cared about production, which meant that if you had a judge who was a jerk, they could and would mess with your livelihood by playing games with the cases they assigned you. I was disrespected by one of my judges in a meeting once in a way I've never been treated in a workplace before, to the point where I almost quit on the spot. Management-Labor relations were incredibly tense, and every board-wide meeting was tense. Oh and people got fired a lot for minor stuff. A non-insignificant number of my peers were constantly looking for new jobs while I was there.

I left for a state government job, and am much happier. Ultimately, I think I was ill-suited for the Board, but I was enticed by (1) the prospect of moving to D.C., (2) telework and, (3) the GS scale. If I could go back in time, I'd absolutely tell myself to renege on the offer. That said, I still think it's a fine place for some people. This thread has a lot of disgruntled former (and current) employees posting here, so it might be a little skewed. I know friends there who aren't happy working at the BVA per se, but they're content and doing fine. So some people definitely make it work.

I just think it's probably the wrong place the the vast majority of the new attorneys they're recruiting, as evidenced by the crazy high attrition rate they have for junior attorneys.

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bvaer (Aug 28, 2018 - 8:49 am)

The results of VA's All Employee Survey (AES) were just released and the Board rated the lowest in overall workplace satisfaction out of every office within VA HQ. The chief area of complaint was the workload, which management is looking to increase. They absolutely don't care about employees - they can always find new ones.

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somefed (Aug 28, 2018 - 9:34 am)

Really? I am struggling this year due both to the higher number of credits and the elimination of the half credit for decisions and remands. This is the hardest year I have had at BVA.

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pisces213 (Aug 28, 2018 - 6:13 am)

unless the judge you will be clerking for is known to go to bat for his/her clerks and take a personal interest in getting you employed, take the board position.

Even if you hate it at the board you will have a foot in the federal system which is worth more than an apathetic judge who will not give you glowing recommendations.

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john09 (Aug 28, 2018 - 8:57 am)

A foot in the door won't be helpful for those who get fired. Why take the risk? I think SSA is a safer path to get your foot in the door.

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lydia (Aug 28, 2018 - 1:51 pm)

run for your life. It looks like they're gearing up for another round of mass firings. That means more litigation, crying employees in the bathroom, and maybe some employee suicides. That could be you next year if you get the wrong judge and aren't willing to work an unpredictable amount of hours to reach whatever quota they put in for next fiscal year. If you had nothing lined up, I'd say take it for sure. But, I cannot honestly recommend starting your legal career in a production based job where you're highly expendable and will receive little training as a lawyer.

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legallybronze93 (Aug 28, 2018 - 11:05 am)

So I spoke with the former clerk and she's currently unemployed, but she said the judge has no problems writing letters of rec for her.

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somefed (Aug 28, 2018 - 6:07 pm)

I will say this: Think about whether you can spend hours reading medical records and taking notes. We spend a lot of time on the medical files and service records before we write a decision. People who have worked in personal injury or at Soc Security are used to that type of work and are often successful at the Board. The "X" factor in this situation is the judge and chief you work for. Your experience at the Board is really defined by your judge and chief. Some chiefs care about the health and welfare of employees and go out of their way to help people.

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catwoman333 (Sep 7, 2018 - 12:36 am)

Based on these reviews, the BVA sounds like UTTER HELL. I gather that most of these agency AA jobs are essentially glorified doc review with high caseloads, high burnout/turnover, low pay, and no real future career promotion track (unless you consider becoming a GS 14 manager presiding over miserable, stressed, burned-out people a "good" career option...:). I also think its a myth that this is a fast-track job to becoming an ALJ. Most ALJs I know say they were either litigators or state judges--not doc review/AAs--in their previous jobs before becoming ALJs with federal agencies.

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somefed (Sep 7, 2018 - 7:08 pm)

Actually, almost every judge at the Board came from inside the Board starting as a staff attorney. The few who did not come up through the Board were staff attorneys at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims or Group VII, the group that handles litigation of Board decisions at the Veterans Court.

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john09 (Sep 9, 2018 - 6:11 pm)

I'm sorry to disturb those who are grinding away in the office during the weekend, but I'm genuinely curiously.

If almost every single VLJ has experience as a staff attorney, why are so many staff attorneys complaining about working conditions at the Board? Given their experiences in the trenches, I would think that the VLJs would know what workloads are attainable. But, as we consistently see in the surveys, workload at the Board is not attainable within a 40 hour workweek.

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formerbvaer (Sep 10, 2018 - 1:31 pm)

Because once you get to the part of your BVA career where you’re a supervisor or a VLJ, you’ve bought into the toxic culture of the BVA. Plus, the production standards have gotten progressively worse over the years, so the current crop of VLJs don’t necessarily all have the same experience as the people who’ve come in as AAs recently.

Some definitely do get it and sympathize, but accept that turnover of opinion writers is going to be high and they can’t do anything about it.

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keydet (Sep 10, 2018 - 9:11 am)

I was a senior attorney (14) at the Board, and worked there for well over a decade. Wrote for 8 different VLJs and did over 1500 cases. I left for another agency at the start of 2018, but had been trying to make a move for about the previous five years.

I’ve been a lurker on here for a while and this is my first post. As regards the stories:

Crazy thing is, the Force, the Jedi...it’s all true. All of it.

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catwoman333 (Sep 12, 2018 - 11:34 pm)

Hi keydet. Welcome to the board!

I, too, am a relative "newbie" here. Congrats on your new job. Would you mind sharing which agency and whether or not they are still hiring? I'm at the same point in my career as you: I have worked over a decade in one area of law, am seeking a change, a new beginning and direction.

I've thought of applying for an AA position at one of the federal agencies (SSA, BVA, OMHA) but the avg. pay seems so low (GS9-12), and based on what I read on this and other boards, the stress/turnover is terrible and only getting worse with the rising production demands and caseloads.

I would appreciate any thoughts/suggestions.

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somefed (Sep 10, 2018 - 9:20 pm)

I think that most VLJ's would welcome a lower standard because it would be easier for them to get their people to the goal. Most judges do not enjoy the toxic attitude promoted by management. In fact, many will tell you they do not like the quota, but it is not in their control. They are just trying to get the cases out so they don't get blamed for people on their team failing production and getting fired.

On the bright side, there is a cake party on Sept 19! Everyone can eat the cake at their desk while sweating out their year-end production goal.

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john09 (Sep 11, 2018 - 8:56 am)

I wouldn't be surprised if management increased the quota to 4 cases a week. I think management will set an annual goal of at least 100k cases for FY19. Enjoy your cake while you still can!

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lydia (Sep 11, 2018 - 9:42 am)

They should set it at 150k. No one who still has a job is seriously attempting to read the evidence anymore. Once you stop trying to scroll through all of the medical records, 4 cases is doable as long as you don't get entirely "hard" cases. At this point it's basically pattern recognition. (1) spot a familiar fact pattern. (2) assume there is nothing special or unusual about the case hidden in the medical records. (3) write something and get it out the door as quickly as possible. Grant and remand as much as possible.

If you're doing much more than that, you're going to get fired because it's really not possible even if you are working unpaid overtime.


The board has people doing 4-5 cases a week consistently. You really think they are working unpaid OT to do extra cases? No way Jose!

The judges know this. The attorneys know this. Congress knows this because the attorneys have written to them about it multiple times. The Veterans Service Organizations know this because they get the letters. The CAVC judges know this and have stated it.

It appears absolutely no one cares except for the attorneys working unpaid OT who are still trying to read the records. I think they still try because the official training and policy is that it is required. However, the Board has had MANY efficiency trainings both informal and formal where we've been told NOT to read all of the records. Read more or less on a case by case basis.

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somefed (Sep 11, 2018 - 11:53 am)

There are still a lot of attorneys who review every document in the files because that is how we were trained. It is a matter of self preservation. It is not good to be the person who has a lot of errors in your cases.
The Board keeps track of the court decisions, and people notice when the Court finds a lot of errors in someone's work. If your cases are always coming back, you can get a reputation for being unreliable.

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lydia (Sep 11, 2018 - 1:01 pm)

(1) CAVC JMRs and remands is a very small percentage of the Board's workload, and full grants and remands don't go to CAVC.

(2) the Board does not agree with many of CAVC's decisions and can appeal them or implement them in different ways.

(3) most of the returns from CAVC are not the result of an attorney's failure to read the record closely enough. Had the attorney taken a month to read every word in painstaking detail, the attorney would most likely write the same decision.

(4) Judges will often explicitly tell attorneys something along the lines of "yea, that is a problem but they can take it to CAVC"

(5) You can open and "review" every document in the time in less than an hour, but if you try to read every word on every page you won't be able to do even 1 case per week on average. You will get fired. There is no magic amount of reading that is just right for every case.

(6) The focus of of the Board and congress right now is not on what might come back from CAVC later. It's on the wait times for decisions and number of cases signed. Attorneys won't choose to be fired now over production because they're worried about CAVC remands later.

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somefed (Sep 11, 2018 - 1:12 pm)

Anyone who has been here for a while has seen numerous JMRs because VA did not obtain all the records. In many of those cases,the JMR will refer to records listed in treatment reports, which the attorney would have noticed if they read more carefully. You can tell me that I have not seen such a JMR but I have.

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lydia (Sep 11, 2018 - 1:25 pm)

Since the production panic set in, most people cite CAVC precedent that indicates we don't have to go on a record hunting safari. If they don't raise a DTA arguement and nothing sticks out like a sore thumb, don't mention it. The days of writing 5 page DTA sections to decisions are gone.

Also, let's be real. The needles in the haystascks are rarely anything that changes the outcome. Hunting for that stuff doesn't help Veterans except to the extent that it might wear VA down overtime until someone says F'it and tosses out an overly generous grant.

It's more efficient to have some CAVC attorney point that out to us later than have every attorney at the board spend an additional 10 hours on every case searching for something that isn't there.

If the Board read every page of every document in the record, every case would be a death dismissal. We don't have the resources to do that work, and Congress isn't going to increase the budget by hundreds of millions of dollars for it.

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somefed (Sep 19, 2018 - 10:21 am)

Is everyone going to the cake party today. Remember, business attire is required...to eat a piece of cake.

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lydia (Sep 19, 2018 - 10:56 am)

the Secretary will be there. Everyone be sure to say hello. It's a good opportunity to start a dialogue.

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john09 (Sep 19, 2018 - 11:28 am)

Make sure you toe the line at the event. Otherwise, you won't get your cake.

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john09 (Sep 19, 2018 - 5:12 pm)

Congratulations on reaching 81,000 decisions! Did the cake make up for your blood, sweat and tears? I hope they gave all of you two slices of cake at least.

https://federalnewsradio.com/veterans-affairs/2018/09/va-exceeds-goals-for-delivering-appeals-decisions-on-disability-claims/

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bvaer (Sep 25, 2018 - 11:10 am)

Congratulations indeed! As a reward, the Board-wide quota for FY 2019 has been announced at 90,000+, so if you thought last year was tough, you ain't seen nothin' yet!

So ironic that on the recently-released All Employee Survey results, the number one area of concern for every single judge workgroup within the Board was workload. Management's response? Increase the workload! They really do listen there!

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john09 (Sep 25, 2018 - 11:28 am)

Congrats! There’s gonna be more churning the midnight oil next year.

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dcm1983 (Sep 25, 2018 - 12:44 pm)

3.5-4 cases a week...

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bvaer (Sep 25, 2018 - 2:23 pm)

Has 3.5-4 per week been confirmed? All they announced so far is 90K+ for next year, but no breakdown on the per-attorney quota. I guess they're saving it as a new fiscal year "surprise"! Surprise, your job just got more awful!

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john09 (Sep 25, 2018 - 3:45 pm)

Surprises... how exciting! I’m betting the new standard will be 4 cases a week.

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legaleagle223 (Sep 25, 2018 - 8:31 pm)

how difficult is it to do 4 cases a week at the board?

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dcm1983 (Sep 26, 2018 - 4:08 am)

It’s hard if your judge is trying to follow an equipoise standard. That means if the evidence is 50 percent or better in favor of the veteran, you grant. A lot of the claims we get on appeal are very very weak, but it is incredibly time consuming to write a defensable denial of a claim. The problem is are our regulations are absolute garbage. They were written when we did not have to explain our actions. There was no court above the board, and we could write conclusory 2-page yes or no decisions. For example, the social security administration has a lots of regulations defining what it takes to find a person cannot work. Those regulations are considered outdated, vague, and useless. But, VA has essentially no standard when it comes to determining whether a person can work. It’s made up bull on a case by case basis. So...instead of rewriting the Regulations or changing law...the board will just start granting most claims. Our secretary Wilkie and chairman Mason just emphasized we must start with a “yes”. It will NEVER be politically acceptable to say NO although Wilkie is opposing the very liberal bluewater veterans bill. Essentially, if you are a veteran and you never leave the United States but develope hypertension 30 years after service because you gained 100 lbs in your 60s, we will pay you tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to you forever because it’s easier politically than telling you that your HTN has nothing to do with your military service. The new directive from the chairman is a suggestion that we simply write short easy grants to an extreme degree until people complain about cost. Those complaing people will be labeled as evil, sadistic anti-veteran people.

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keydet (Sep 20, 2018 - 7:29 am)

In the dozen or so years I was there, the Board was never what I’d call the most glamorous place in federal employment. But, having said that, when it was smaller, it was more personal. I started as the only new hire of a pay period and had direct and dedicated mentoring. My Judge took time to offer feedback. We didn’t have VBMS or whatever else; it was a paper file, and while that could be bulky, I found it much easier to navigate.

Production has always driven the Board, but it got absolutely nuts in the last year. And the “goodies” for counsel (travel board opportunities, Acting VLJ, details) sure seemed to dry up. I think the production pressure had been really ramping up for the last few years (with a brief respite during the famed “Carol months”), and in FY18, it became untenable. I was fortunate to move agencies.

It’s much more of a “move it out the door” place than I think it used to be, and as a consequence, it lost some of the personal touch and morale was the lowest I’d ever seen it when I punched out a few months ago. I also missed seeing a lot of my colleagues who had gone to “fulltime remote.” There is a lot of institutional knowledge there that is harder to access than when I first started because people aren’t in the office. I found it more isolating to not see some longtime friends every day (or every two days like when they were flexiplace). I understand they need to do that in order to accommodate space for all their attorneys, but it didn’t feel like the same Board as when I started.

I had good judges and chiefs, and I was good at the job. Your life there is-and always has been-dependent on the files you get and who you have sign them. That can change at an instant, which means you can go from good to bad to good pretty quickly.

I feel for those new hires who didn’t get training like I did. I would always answer a new person’s substantive legal questions if they asked me, because that was what it was like when I started. But the production demands are so much more onerous now. 81,000 does not seem sustainable to me, and I imagine they will want more next FY. I suppose that the Board is 60% or so larger than it was when I started, and it will continue to grow, so maybe it will work out (need at least 50 more VLJs, though).

I’m grateful for the Board for getting me started in my career, but there’s no doubt that it’s a different world now. Maybe it will come back around in a few years.

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keydet (Sep 20, 2018 - 8:03 am)

Also, for those of you looking to make a move, my advice is to take the spaghetti approach on USAJOBs. Throw as much as you can at the wall and hope something will stick. Paper the town (obviously, only at opportunities that interest you) and write specific and dedicated cover letters for each position. It can take years-it did for me-but if you want to make a move, you have to keep doing it.

Good luck.

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dcm1983 (Sep 23, 2018 - 3:02 am)

If you are pressured to resign from this job and do not have something else lined up, do not resign. It’s fantastic for management, but it won’t do a thing for you. By resigning, you are helping them screw you. They are still required to document your performance deficiencies, and you will have to admit you were forced to resign if you apply for other jobs (or lie under penalty of law). You give up your unemployment benefits and possible reinstatement if they didn’t give you PIP or otherwise follow Applicable contractual and statutory provisions. Seriously, do not f’king resign. It is absolutely moronic.

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catwoman333 (Sep 23, 2018 - 1:58 pm)

@dcm1983, respectfully, NO!! NO!! NO!!

If you refuse to separate from ANY job gracefully, you are only shooting yourself in the foot and guaranteeing YOUR future hardship, not your employer's. In the 21st Century of tough competition for dwindling job opps, esp. at huge, high turnover fed. agencies like the VA, you're a dime a dozen, a faceless cog in their wheel, so easily replaced. It matters little to them how you go, just that you do go, so they can get another person in your cube as fast as possible.

If you "force" an employer to give you a terrible review in order to pressure you out the door, how does that help YOU? That alone may be grounds (sacking "for cause") for denial of UE benefits, and it will surely give any future employers pause about hiring an applicant. So why extend your misery to pursue a childish vengeance fantasy?

Just leave graciously but first try to help yourself by negotiating the least damaging exit: 2 weeks notice, benefits through the month, and a decent--or at least not damning--final performance review that won't look suspicious to future employers.

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john09 (Sep 23, 2018 - 2:15 pm)

Catwoman, what are you talking about? Do you really believe an employer has grounds for firing an employee for cause if that employee refuses to resign in lieu of termination?

The federal government isn't like the private sector. I know you have experience in SSA disability, but are you now an employment lawyer? Please refer to Rule 1.1 (Competence) of the ABA Model Rules.

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catwoman333 (Sep 23, 2018 - 7:53 pm)

"Do you really believe an employer has grounds for firing an employee for cause if that employee refuses to resign in lieu of termination?"


++++++++++++++++++

@John09, I suggest you go back and CAREFULLY re-read my comment instead of resorting to a rude, overwrought putdown that only reinforces the worst caricature stereotype of lawyers. Perhaps YOU are the one who should review Rule 1.1 of the Model Rules....as well as the others pertaining to diligence and treating people with courtesy and respect.

You missed the point I was making. My comment addresses a completely different issue--real life CONSEQUENCES of being fired vs. resignation--not whether or not an employer had valid grounds for doing so. An abrupt termination (by gov. or private employer) doesn't look good under ANY circumstances--to prospective employers or to UE bens board reviewers and will only trigger red flags.

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downwardslope (Sep 23, 2018 - 10:01 pm)

Catwoman- the current EO out says that federal agencies must disclose if someone resigns in lieu of being fired. There is really no constructive difference at this point. This is the point that John09 is trying to make. If they have to say you were going to be fired anyway, might as well try to go through the processes available to you at your employer to see if you can be put on a PIP and actually keep your job.

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dcm1983 (Sep 23, 2018 - 6:21 pm)

Resigning would only be preferable if you could honestly say it wasn’t forced. If you lie and say it wasn’t forced when you apply for another federal job you could get in huge trouble for that. There should also be documentation that you had performance issues and anything else leading up to the forced resignation. If your manager tries to hide that, the manager could get into big trouble. I would fight it, ask for the PIP I’m entitled too, and claim unemployment benefits. I see no gain in a forced resignation. If you fight it and prevail, you would keep your job and not have a forced resignation on your record. If they do try to fire dozens of employees as expected, why not demand PIPs and drag it out to the bitter end. It will encourage them to invest more resources into proper training and retention. The union informed us recently that a freedom of information act request revealed that 25% of new hires in the last few years are no longer with the board. That is a shameful statistic, and that number could go up with the next firing wave.

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