Many lawyers go to law school because they want to change the world for the better. One way to have an impact on your community is to work for the government. While it’s tempting to go after a high-paying job at a law firm, those jobs can be hard to find.
Many big firm lawyers are unsatisfied with the careers not because their job is bad but because it’s not the right fit for them. If you’re in this position, a career change to public service might help you rekindle your passion for the law.
There are a variety of career options for lawyers at governments to serve in both legal and non-legal positions.
Legal careers in government
Between the Department of Justice and court system, there are many roles for lawyers in government. Judges, prosecutors, and public defenders come to mind first. While the most obvious place to look for government law jobs is the courthouse, assistant attorney generals can do anything from litigation to advisory roles, according to a lawyer following this career path in Oregon.
Alternative careers for lawyers
Beyond the courthouse, the most visible role for lawyers in government is that of elected officials. Lawyers can have a direct impact on public policy by running for office-from local city council positions to president of the United States.
But all those elected officials also need staff and advisors, as well, and these make excellent opportunities for lawyers. During election season, you may be using your ability to make a case-for a candidate. Working for a campaign also opens opportunities after election season is over.
Working on Capitol Hill
Lawyers serve in both legislative and investigative roles on Capitol Hill. Not all of these positions require a law degree, but a lawyer’s ability to research, understand and craft policy can help you succeed in legislative roles. Lawyers tend to serve on the staffs of committees, though some also work for members.
As an investigator, lawyers can be a part of the news and make headlines. A lawyer who investigated the Iran Contra Scandal in the 1980s said this was the most exciting part of working on Capitol Hill for him.
Career options for lawyers
You may have to work up to Capitol Hill jobs, but there are similar positions on the state and local levels. Industry groups, associations and advocacy organizations also hire lawyers to lobby the government. I talked to one lawyer who even lobbied the state and federal government on behalf of her city government.
There are many career options for lawyers in government. Your legal skills and knowledge of the political system will allow you to have an impact on your community or country while having a fulfilling career.