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Security Clearances

          For individuals and companies doing business with the national security components of the federal government, (DoD, DOJ, CIA, NSA, NRO, DHS, Foreign Service at State Department, and many others), a security clearance is essential.  And the loss of a security clearance can quickly result in the loss of your livelihood or contract.


     Leslie McAdoo Gordon for many years guided individuals and companies through the clearance process, from the initial application through the investigation to the formal process of fighting a denial or revocation if necessary.

Military Aircraft
Army Boots

Advice about Getting or Staying Cleared

     Leslie regularly provides confidential advice about whether a person can be cleared or will have trouble getting - or staying - cleared based on that person's specific situation. You would benefit from this kind of advice before you apply if you are a first-time applicant, or after you've been cleared if something new has come up in your life or your circumstances have changed.  Leslie also provides advice to cleared persons who need to self-report new  or adverse information (such as an arrest) to their security officer.

     This advice is given in a consultation with an experienced attorney, who evaluates your chances of success based on your issues and works with you to develop a plan of action to improve your odds of success either now or in the future.  In a small number of cases where the evaluation determines that a denial or revocation is likely, the advice involves an explanation of that process and how to navigate it, an evaluation of whether it's likely you can be cleared later in the future, and if appropriate, a plan of action to start improving your odds of success.

     In cases where new or adverse information needs to be reported by a cleared person, Leslie can help you determine if the information is reportable, evaluate how much of a threat it poses to your security clearance, and assist you in navigating the reporting process and the investigation that often follows.


     A polygraph examination is not a routine requirement for basic security clearances (Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret).  However, it is sometimes used an an investigative tool in those investigations.

     Ordinarily, though, a polygraph will be a requirement for access determinations "above" Top Secret, such as SCI, SAP or RD.  In those cases, the polygraph could be for Counter-Intelligence issues only, or it could be very comprehensive, the so-called "Lifestyle" polygraph.

    VERY IMPORTANT:  If you are asked to take a polygraph as part of security clearance processing, DO NOT RESEARCH the polygraph, especially on-line.  Although you may only be seeking information about the test, the Government often interprets this as research into "counter-measures," meaning how to "beat" the test.  The only two things you can safely do to prepare for the polygraph is to talk to your security officer and/or an already cleared co-worker about what the process is like and to consult with a security clearance lawyer.  DON'T DO ANYTHING ELSE!

Security Clearance Issues

Leslie has handled hundreds of clearance cases, including at:

          DOD     NSA     CIA     NRO     NGA     FBI     DIA     State Department

          Energy     USAID     DHS     TSA     Commerce     DOHA     CPB     DARPA

In her cases, Leslie handled all of the following issues and more:  

Foreign Influence, Foreign Preference, Sexual Behavior, Drugs, Alcohol,

Personal Conduct, Finances, Criminal Conduct, Psychological Conditions,


Handling Protected Information, Outside Activities, and Use of Information


Technology Systems.

Click on the button to the right to see just a small sampling of the cases Leslie successfully handled:

Facility Security Clearances

     Leslie McAdoo Gordon assists companies seeking to obtain facility security clearance (FCL).  She can help you determine the best strategy for being sponsored for an FCL, assist in understanding the application process and conforming your business to the government's expectations, and aid you in formulating a plan to deal with FOCI issues (Foreign Ownership, Control or Influence), so they don't derail your FCL.

Public Trust and Suitability

     Public Trust, Suitability and other determinations for access to non-classified information or computer systems are NOT security clearances. They do require a background investigation & adjudication, but they are governed by different standards and procedures than security clearances.  For information about these determinations, click here.


     In addition to giving advice and representing clients in security clearance matters, Attorney Leslie McAdoo Gordon is the author of a book about the 25 most commonly asked questions about the security clearance process.  A full description of the book and a link to purchase it on can be found on the Books page.

      And coming soon is a second book about whether certain common situations, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, dual citizenship, possession of a foreign passport and many others, will keep you from getting cleared. 


     During the security clearance application process, an agency (especially the DOD CAF) may send you written questions, called Interrogatories. These interrogatories may ask you to provide additional information or documentation, or may ask you to verify the information contained in the report of your interview with the investigator.

     The way you answer the interrogatories will play a significant role in determining whether your clearance application will be granted. It is extremely important that you fully and correctly respond to the interrogatories. If you receive Interrogatories in your clearance case, you should talk to an attorney about them before returning them to the agency. An experienced security clearance attorney can assist you in preparing your responses in ways that will improve (or at a minimum not damage) your odds of being cleared. 


     Unfortunately, some people lose their clearance when they otherwise would not simply because they do not correctly understand the Interrogatories.  It is also sometimes possible that the attorney will know that certain information will satisfy the Government's concerns and can help you present it in the Interrogatories and then avoid a hearing in your case.

Advice about Filling Out the SF86 Application

     Leslie regularly provides confidential advice about how to properly disclose information on the SF86 (Standard Form 86) Questionnaire for security clearance. The SF86 is a long and comprehensive document.  It can also be a bit intimidating and it is confusing and ambiguous in places.  Further, people often have circumstances which they are not sure must be disclosed or they aren't sure how to correctly do so.  In all of these situations, it is wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to guide you to making the correct decisions.

     This is particularly important because information that is left off of the form could seriously harm your ability to obtain the clearance.  The Government frequently views omissions as "falsification" of the form (lies), and it will deny or revoke clearance for this reason even if the omitted information by itself would not have prevented you from getting cleared.  It is also a criminal offense to provide false information on the SF86, which can further prevent you from getting cleared, and in some circumstances could lead to you being criminally prosecuted.  A consultation with an experienced attorney will help you avoid these problems and increase your chances of getting cleared.

Investigation Interviews

     Leslie can also assist

you in preparing for the interview with the investigator in your case.  Not all background investigations require an interview of the applicant, but many do.  Applications for Top Secret, update investigations, and investigations for Confidential or Secret where there is adverse information will all include an interview.

     Although in most cases an attorney cannot accompany you in the interview, it is often a great benefit to work through the adverse information that will come up in the interview beforehand with an experienced security clearance attorney.  The attorney can help you organize the information that you need to convey to the investigator, suggest things to volunteer to the investigator that are helpful to your case but that the investigator might not ask about, recommend materials that you might want to take to the interview, and give you advice about how to conduct yourself in the interview.  All of these can greatly increase your odds of success.

Counselor & Attorney at Law

25 Years of Experience as an Investigator and Lawyer

          Leslie takes a very practical approach to solving legal problems.  She offers straightforward advice and assistance to clients.  She knows you have complicated and daunting issues, an will provide you knowledgeable, strategic guidance throughout your case.  Her goal is to help you navigate and resolve legal problems with the best result possible, guided by the facts and the law - but equally as important -  guided by your personal goals and priorities.

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