How Do I Pursue a Legal Career in the Government?

When you are looking to get started on your law career, answering one question will help you get started on the right foot: Would you like to work as a freelancer, embark on a corporate path, or join the public sector? Once you know which pathway speaks to you, you’ll be able to narrow down your options.

The most common option is the corporate one. In this career tract, a person graduates law school, joins a firm, and moves upward on the path to senior partner. While popular, the corporate path is simply not for everyone.

If you’re interested in a legal career in the government, learn more in our guide below.

How to Break into a Government Career

According to the American Bar Foundation, 7.5 percent of lawyers in the U.S. work for government agencies. In addition to traditional roles in the government, this also includes those who follow these unconventional paths:

  • Politician
  • FBI analyst
  • Lobbyist
  • Legislative director
  • Compliance advisor

These are just a few examples of the government careers awaiting law school graduates. So how can you get started?

Breaking into the government sector can be challenging, especially for those who do not have a concrete career path in mind.

Find a Mentor with a Government Career

If you are unsure whether the government sector is a good fit, a mentor can help to direct you. If you are confident in your decision to pursue government work, a mentor can be likewise helpful.

A mentor with whom you have a close relationship will give you unadulterated advice and guidance. If you are looking for an accurate depiction of government work, someone who works there already is the best resource you can find.

If you don’t have a mentor already, it’s a good idea to check in with your university. Schools often have programs connecting current students or recent graduates with older alumni.

Consider Joining a Campaign

If you are ready to jump right in, the quickest path may be to join a campaign. This experience will help you network and gain an understanding of how politics work.

The easiest option might be to start small with a local campaign. If you enjoy your initial experience, you can use it as a stepping stone to larger campaigns.

Serve in the Local Community

Government work is centered around civic service. So if you want to start building your resume today, start by asking how you can serve your community.

You might want to think about volunteering for a local charity, taking part in activism (both in-person and on social media), or penning an opinion piece for your local newspaper.

Consider Your Personality and Work Style

Because the government sector is so varied, you can’t narrow down your options until you understand yourself and what you want from your career. The government is a vast entity, so the possibilities are virtually endless.

To succeed in the government, you must be able to work within a strict bureaucratic setting. You must also be able to thrive in a situation in which you alternate between deferring to others and following strict protocols. If this does not sound like you, the government may not be the best fit.

What a Government Career Really Means

At the end of the day, a career in government can be tough but rewarding. Whether you get involved at the local, state, or federal level, be prepared to make an impact. After all, this is what a government career really means.

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