This position is located in the Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, Mine Safety and Health Division. The Division is responsible for providing all legal services to officials of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), other Department of Labor (DOL) and government officials, and the general public in matters relating to enforcement, interpretation, and application of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act), as amended.

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The Counsel for Appellate Litigation is responsible for the review and direction of the work of various Division attorneys and support staff in providing legal services relating to: (1) the review and analysis for possible appeal of decisions rendered by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (Commission); (2) the preparation and presentation of DOLs case, either as petitioner or respondent, including motions, the preparation of appellate briefs, and the presentation of oral arguments before the various U.S. Courts of Appeals; (3) handling appeals of ALJ decisions to the Commission; (4) handling appeals to the MSHA Assistant Secretary of modification decisions; and (5) responding to operator appeals under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 60(b).

The incumbent guides, reviews, and directs attorneys assigned to the counsel area in: (1) the process whereby adverse decisions rendered by the Commission are analyzed with a view toward appeal in the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals; and (2) the process by which ALJ decisions are appealed to the Commission. The incumbent is personally responsible for overseeing the preparation of pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents, preparation of pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents, taking into consideration such factors as the strength of the record made at the administrative hearing, the impact of the ALJ’s decision if allowed to stand, the likelihood of success at the Commission and similar and related considerations. Incumbent is also responsible for recommending to the Associate or Deputy Associate Solicitor whether there should be a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court to review any unfavorable decisions by the court of appeals.

Incumbent ensures the quality and uniformity of work through the assigning, supervising, and review of all briefs, records, and related legal documents.The incumbent provides guidance to attorneys in the assigned area on litigation matters and cases that present novel issues, involve especially difficult questions of fact and law, pertain to large mining corporations that span DOL regional boundaries or otherwise involve questions of litigation policy of broad significance to the mine safety and health enforcement program. In especially significant and complex cases, the incumbent reviews the investigative and legal files and directs the efforts of subordinate Division attorneys engaged in the preparation of complaints, pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents.

The incumbent is responsible for the direction of MSHA-related appellate litigation from the Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia headquarters. During the course of brief preparation, the incumbent advises SOL attorneys on such matters as developing stronger factual records for MSHA cases and developing test cases to strengthen and extend the law in MSHA cases.

The incumbent is responsible for making assignments for any oral arguments before the various courts and the Commission. A major responsibility is the pacing of the development of the various cases so as to distribute the workload evenly, afford less-experienced attorneys appropriate training, and meet court filing deadlines in a timely manner. In especially important cases, the incumbent may be called upon to prepare the petition, briefs, and any other type of document necessary for the presentation of the Department’s case and for argument of the case.

The incumbent is responsible for the review and direction of all work in the assigned area and for passing on the adequacy of petitions and briefs. The incumbent is also responsible for the day-to-day supervision of subordinate attorneys and staff, including tasks typically associated with supervisory positions, such as writing performance appraisals, etc.

In addition to the appellate litigation duties, the incumbent provides advice and assistance, when needed and as appropriate, to the other sections of the MSH Division and to Regional Solicitors Offices.


The incumbent is under the administrative direction of the Associate Solicitor and Deputy Associate Solicitor, which for the most part is given in general terms, leaving wide latitude for the exercise of independent judgment in all except the most unusual, difficult, or important policy matters. Review by the Associate or Deputy Associate Solicitor is on the broadest considerations of overall performance and is usually limited to conformance with DOL and SOL policy. The incumbent is responsible for keeping the Associate and Deputy Associate informed on a timely basis of all sensitive matters pertaining to the work assigned and for coordinating related work assignments with other Counsels.

To qualify for an attorney position, applicants must possess a professional law degree (LL.B. or J.D.); be a member in good standing of the bar of a court of general jurisdiction of a state, territory or possession of the U.S.; and have acquired the amount of experience indicated below for each grade level.

Applicants must possess at least 5 years of progressively responsible legal experience, which demonstrates a thorough and broad knowledge of the basic principles in the legal profession and outstanding technical competence in the solution of unusual, complex, and difficult problems. Applicants must have litigation experience which includes analyzing and conducting legal research on complex questions regarding statutory and regulatory interpretation, preparation of legal pleadings, memoranda and briefs in factually, technical and/or legal complex cases, participation in oral arguments before appellate tribunals, and application of rules of appellate procedure and principles of appellate strategy. Applicants must exhibit the ability to work in a supportive and professional manner with staff, attorney supervisors, client agency representatives at a high level, and Commission and court personnel.

Applicants must be a graduate from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association and be a member in good standing of a standing of the bar of a state or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. An L.L.M. may be substituted for one year of progressively responsible legal experience.

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