Highlights Of Our Security Clearance Work
- As a National Security Clearance Paralegal, Dennis Smith has assisted hundreds of clients.
- He’s provided professional representation to help clients with Security Clearance issues and to ultimately win their cases.
- Focus of the practice is on winning cases with just a written response.
- Providing Security Clearance assistance since 1985—as the application process has become constantly, ever-increasingly-difficult.
- Dennis Smith’s personal Security Clearance Victories:
- Has had over 100 victories in responding to Statement of Reasons.
- Assisted attorneys with over dozens of Hearing victories.
- Whether your problem is alcohol/drug, financial, or any of the other guidelines, we provide the expertise you need.
A Story Of Two Parallel Paths
The Growth Of Security Clearances As An Industry, And My Background In That Industry
Like many young men, I grew up eager to “see the world” and joined the military for that. At the young age of 18, I enlisted in the United States Navy and underwent basic training in Orlando, Florida. On my first assignment in 1985, I got introduced to security clearances as assistant to the Security Manager. In those days, you could get a clearance in a month’s time.
I helped personnel fill out the application form SF 86, (probably 25-30 pages long at that time). I found it fascinating, and I knew I was helping people—which was very important to me. As I advanced in rank and responsibilities I realized there were common areas where sailors were having issues with clearances. The Security Clearance process was not as complex as it is now. In those days, it was all just administrative paperwork.
In The Early 90’s, The Security Clearance Process Tightened Considerably
A Lot Of New Complexity Was Added
A series of reform efforts made the Security Clearance process more complicated. There was an increase in the amount of investigative work required for Top Secret clearances, and a “neighborhood investigation” component was added. Getting a clearance became more difficult and the process became more political.
The Navy had not trained me in Security Clearances, only the in the administrative side. My training came from intensive trial-and-error as I assisted Navy personnel with clearances. I held an active Security Clearance myself from August 1985 until 2005 when I retired from the Navy.
From 1992 Forward, Security Clearances Became My Full-Time Work
Keeping Security Clearances For Shipmates Was My Driving Motivation
Starting in 1992, I assisted the Security Manager with shipboard personnel clearances. Look, I’m not a braggart, but under my watch I do not recall ever losing a Security Clearance for a shipmate—working with over 1000 personnel. I helped them fill out the form, answered their questions, and responded to government concerns.
As It Became Harder To Get And To Maintain Security Clearances…
I Began Training Navy Personnel About Their Clearance Responsibilities
During the years 1996-99, I was in charge of the Security Division. This involved training personnel to help with Security Clearances. There were 200 in the command, and 30 in my department. During this time, the clearance process became more and more stringent—causing more personnel to have issues.
In the late 1990’s, the government started looking more deeply into backgrounds. The government didn’t know who to trust, personnel were losing their clearances, and a lot of investigations were conducted. This resulted in more sailors being required to provide a new SF 86 to start an investigation. Where it had previously been “no big deal” to get a clearance, problems became frequent at this time. Suddenly it could take 6 months to a year for the background check to be completed.
Those difficulties led me to start Security Clearance Refresher Training courses. I initiated training sessions for the whole command of 300-400 personnel. The focus was on teaching them their responsibilities in maintaining their clearance. Unless you truly understand the Security Clearance process, it’s easy to have a stumble. It’s a point of pride to me that very few people lost their clearance under my watch.
After The Events Of 9/11, Security Clearances Got Even More Complicated
The Homeland Security Act Passed On November 25, 2002 Combined 20+ Federal Agencies
After 9/11, Security Clearances became even more tightly controlled. Wave after wave of 9/11-related legislation rolled out and impacted Security Clearances. After 9/11 happened, the Government basically required every person holding a clearance to be re-investigated. The investigation into granting a clearance became more complex.
Closed Out My Naval Career In San Diego
Doing Security Clearance Work To The End
My Security Clearance work continued as I completed my Naval Career in San Diego. It was a bittersweet time, starting over at middle age.
After Retiring From The Navy, I Continued With Clearance Work…
Working As A Contractor For The Navy
I spent the next few years working as a Security Clearance contractor for the navy. It was a fairly easy transition as I was performing the same clearance duties as my active duty.
The Next Phase Of My Career Included Becoming A National Security Clearance Paralegal
And Working In A Civilian Job as A Clearance Paralegal
In 2009, I enrolled in the Criminal Justice Program at ITT Technical Institute, studying Paralegal Studies. In 2014, I started at a law firm specializing in security clearances. I was their only paralegal and began working with clients around the world. This work was more complex because I interviewed clients and actually wrote their responses for them.
Typical client load was always about 160 clients. Because of my background, I knew what the government needed to see. 60-70% of my cases were written responses. I began to be respected around the security clearance field and became known by administrative judges and attorneys.
NationalSecurityClearanceAppeals.com Was Launched In 2018
In 2018, Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP decided to launch a Security Clearance specialty. With my Security Clearance background, knowledge, and experience, Fischer and Van Thiel made a decision to add National Security Clearance Appeals to their firm specialties.
Over My Long Career, I’ve Assisted Hundreds Of Clients With Clearance Issues
With A High Victory Rate In Statement Of Reasons and Hearings
I have literally worked with hundreds of clients helping patriots get and keep Security Clearances. I’ve seen the intense growth of the Security Clearance industry and been along for the ride. My objective is always going to be to help you clear up your security issues with the minimum of disruption to your life.
Michael Fischer is a California attorney licensed to practice in both state and federal court. After experiencing his own very contested divorce, he decided to get his law degree. The motivation was to help others who have to go through the unwelcome experiences of divorce.
Previously, he had an extensive career as a business person in Alaska.
- Photography studio and photo processing laboratory
- Owning and operating commercial salmon fishing permit
- Owning and operating a beach site in Alaska’s Cook Inlet
These business experiences uniquely position him to assist his clients through the financial turmoil of a separation or dissolution. He is uniquely qualified to assist clients with family law matters using intelligence, empathy, and compassion.
Mr. Fischer graduated with a Juris Doctor from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento California. McGeorge is an American Bar Association accredited school that has been recognized as one of the top 100 law schools in the United States.
Mike has raised a daughter who is a successful business person, and a son who is a corporal in the Marine Corp. He is currently raising a two-year old daughter with special needs and a one-year old foster child with his wife of seven years.
In 2018, Mike’s true entrepreneurial spirit led him to offering a Security Clearance specialty at Fischer & Van Thiel, LLC. With Dennis Smith’s impressive Security Clearance expertise onboard, it became a natural next step.
Craig Van Thiel
Craig Van Thiel is a licensed California attorney specializing in family law matters for over eight years. Specializing in complex family law matters, he has built a reputation for bringing even the most complex family law matters to a just and cost efficient resolution.
During our careers, Mike and I have handled many cases which had issues dealing with military and government institutions. We are very aware of how lack of security clearance can affect a career. We both deal with Domestic Violence Restraining Orders(DVRS), Military Protection Order (MPO), wage garnishments, and the effect of divorce on the pensions of those serving our country.
Craig graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He continued his legal education at the University of San Diego School of Law, and received his Juris Doctor Degree in 1998.
He has also received a degree in Comparative Criminal Law and International Human Rights from the University of San Diego, Dublin Institute on International and Comparative Law.
Before entering private practice Craig worked for the State Child Support Enforcement Unit. He’s uniquely aware of the inner workings of the enforcement unit as well as the complexities of child support establishment and enforcement.
In private practice, Mr. Van Thiel has asserted himself in the North County legal community as an expert in complex family law litigation. Craig prides himself on his ability to bring even the most complex cases to an amicable agreement without the cost of litigation.
Mr. Van Thiel is pleased to expand the firm by offering a Security Clearance specialty with Dennis Smith. We expect rapid growth as we offer these new services to those who serve our country.
Where To Next?
Now you have an idea about our backgrounds. Go to the Potential Client Complementary Session to learn what you could expect. There is no charge to discuss your situation and assess if our services are right for you.