Restrictions on a Federal Appointee’s Continued Employment by a Private Law Firm

Headnotes: 

Federal conflict of interest laws, 18 U.S.C. §§ 202–209, and Department of Justice Standards of Conduct, 28 C.F.R. pt. 45, restrict the private practice of law by an attorney while employed by the Department of Justice.

If the attorney is hired as a “regular government employee,” i.e., expected to serve more than 130 days in any 365-day period, he will be prohibited from acting as an agent or attorney for anyone other than the United States in any matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest, and from receiving compensation for services rendered by himself or another in such matters. In addition, Department regulations prohibit the outside practice of law by Department of Justice employees, in the absence of a waiver.

If the attorney is hired as a “special government employee,” i.e., expected to serve 130 days or less in any 365-day period, he will be subject to representation and compensation restrictions only with respect to matters in which he has participated personally and substantially while in government or which are pending in the Department of Justice. The Department’s regulation prohibiting the outside practice of law does not apply to special government employees.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 208 all government employees must disqualify themselves from participating for the government in any matters in which they or their employers, among others, have a financial interest.

Updated July 9, 2014