Administrative Law Judge

Administrative Law Judge - Spring Pool 2020 (full-time and pro tem)

This recruitment will be used to establish a pool of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) candidates for upcoming vacancies across our four locations; Olympia, Seattle, Spokane Valley, and Tacoma.


Interviews will be held in-person in Olympia and are anticipated to occur March 10-12.


Individuals appointed to a Line ALJ position will begin with an annual salary of $81,984  if they have at least five years of experience as a licensed attorney, and have no prior experience conducting administrative hearings. The starting salary may be negotiable for individuals with experience conducting administrative hearings.


Individuals appointed to an Entry ALJ position will begin with an annual salary of at least $71,052, but less than $81,984 if they have less than five years of experience as a licensed attorney.


Individuals appointed to a Pro Tem ALJ position will earn an hourly rate of $47.50, and will generally work less than half-time, but may be assigned to work up to full-time for five months at a time. Pro Tem ALJs do not receive benefits, leave, or a guaranteed number of hours.ALJs assigned to the Seattle Field Office will receive an additional 5% premium on top of their base salary.

About the agency
The 1981 Legislature created OAH to offer Washingtonians an independent, fair and neutral forum to hold administrative hearings on disputed matters referred by state and local government agencies.  Operating out of field offices in Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, and Spokane Valley there are approximately 100 Administrative Law Judges at OAH who preside over administrative hearings involving unemployment insurance benefits, child support, food assistance, medical benefits, business and professional licensing, and more.  Our referring agencies include the Employment Security Department (ESD), Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), Health Care Authority (HCA), Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and others. For more information about OAH, please visit our website at


Mission: We independently resolve administrative disputes through accessible, fair, prompt processes and issue sound decisions.


Vision: OAH offers the people of Washington a convenient, easy to navigate system to request and receive fair and impartial hearings on their appeals of government actions. OAH is the preferred neutral forum for Washingtonians to resolve their disputes with state and local government agencies.


Values: Public service, respect, integrity, communications, employees.



Performance excellence: We deliver high quality, timely work.

Convenience & accessibility: We make it easy for people to do business with us.

Independence & impartiality: We inspire public confidence in administrative decision making.

Proficient & engaged employees: We develop skilled, dedicated employees.


OAH Offers:Opportunity to serve as an independent, neutral, and impartial decision maker.Satisfaction of knowing your work makes a difference.Free CLE credits through comprehensive in-house trainings.Comprehensive benefits package.



Position overview:
Our ALJs mainly preside over telephonic hearings but will also conduct in-person hearings for both pro se and represented parties. ALJs work in a fast-paced, timeline driven environment where they are at the forefront of accomplishing the OAH mission. ALJs enjoy seeing the direct result of their work and the justice provided in each decision made. An ALJ's primary role is to conduct hearings that are fair--in both substance and appearance--and issue well-reasoned, timely decisions. This role demands the ability to build a record; manage time effectively; and produce clear, logical, well-written decisions. As a representative of the State of Washington, each ALJ is held to the highest standard of professionalism, performance excellence, and ethics.


Our Caseloads:

Social & Health Services (SHS): ALJs on this caseload work on a variety of case types, including vulnerable adult and child abuse, neglect, child support, food assistance, medical benefits, and business and professional licensing. The hearing length ranges from 30 minutes to multiple days.  Parties to the proceedings are often pro se, but will sometimes be represented by attorneys or non-attorney representatives.


Employment Security (ES): The ES caseload handles a high volume of cases with quick turnaround times for orders. A typical hearing is scheduled for about one hour and a fully trained judge is typically scheduled for 24 hearings a week. ALJs on this caseload hear cases involving unemployment insurance, unemployment fraud, training benefits, and unemployment tax assessments.


Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI):  ALJs issue final administrative decisions for OSPI.  The majority of these cases involve special education, nonresident student transfers, and teacher professional certification. This caseload is similar to a civil trial practice. One or both of the parties will be represented by attorneys. ALJs hear and decide complex prehearing matters, including discovery disputes, motions for summary judgment, and motions in limine. Hearings range from one day to multiple weeks. ALJs must critically examine conflicting expert testimony, make difficult credibility determinations, and address multiple issues in the same order. Final orders are typically 25+ pages.


Specialized: This ever-growing, dynamic caseload covers a variety of other case types, including Paid Family Medical Leave, regulatory cases from the Liquor and Cannabis Board and the Department of Labor and Industries, and Title IX student misconduct cases for some state universities. Specialized cases often involve ruling on prehearing motions, managing multiple parties, and writing orders on novel or complex issues. ALJs on this caseload must have strong analytical skills and enjoy challenges, variety, and flexibility in their work.


Some of what you'll do:

Provide high quality and timely administrative hearings and decisions under Chapter 34.05 RCW and other applicable laws consistent with the requirements of due process.Conduct fair, impartial hearings accessible for all parties. Most ES and SHS hearings are conducted over the phone, with some in person.  Most OSPI and Specialized hearings are conducted in person.  Travel throughout Washington State may be required.Become proficient in using our case management system to manage your caseload.Ensure a clear and complete hearing record.Preside and rule on pre-hearing, hearing, and post-hearing matters.Read or view exhibits, pleadings, and legal reference materials to prepare for proceedings.Swear in witnesses, take testimony, and rule on exhibits. Determine the relevancy of testimony as it is occurring; rule on admissibility of evidence.Maintain control of the hearing, which may include parties who are upset or are having difficulty understanding the proceeding.Analyze legal problems, some of which may be difficult and complex; and apply legal principles and precedents with a commitment to making an unbiased and legally correct decision.Issue well-written decisions consistent with OAH quality standards, containing necessary findings of fact and conclusions of law disposing of all legal issues.Issue decisions within strict timelines required by OAH standards and the governing federal and state law.Develop and maintain current and accurate knowledge of administrative rules, policies and procedures, and other substantive law for caseloads.




We are looking for applicants who have:

Demonstrated the ability to make timely and logical decisions, adapt to changing business needs, conditions, and work responsibilities.Extensive practice in legal writing and proofreading, including the ability to independently draft and edit legal documents.A high stress tolerance, judicial decorum, calm demeanor, and ability to de-escalate confrontational behavior.Demonstrated ability to respond positively to constructive feedback, changing processes, and make improvements to overall performance.Tolerance of repeated interruptions, ability to adjust priorities as needed, and the ability to maintain mental focus.Ability to interpret, apply rules and policies.Ethical conduct, including a history of maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct and personal integrity.A commitment to teamwork, to do what is necessary to achieve the team's goals, while working independently.Ability to meet challenges with resourcefulness, generate suggestions for improving work, and develop innovative approaches and ideas.Demonstrated skill with Microsoft Office programs including Word and Outlook and the ability to produce accurately formatted and typed documents.Ability to learn and use new technology systems, including case management systems and time-reporting systems.


Applicants must have the following qualifications:

A Juris Doctor degree.

A minimum of five years of legal experience as a licensed attorney.*

Active or Judicial membership with the Washington State Bar Association or any state's bar association.

Demonstrated knowledge of administrative law and procedures.

*Applicants with less than five years' legal experience may be considered for Entry ALJ positions with the ability to promote to Line ALJ upon reaching five years' legal experience.