Like the rest of us, the government needs attorneys too. Governments hire lawyers for legal advice and representation. Lawyers are usually directly employed by the government and may or may not work for ministries, government agencies and crown corporations. Government counsel (as they are commonly referred to) lawyers can work for state attorneys general, public defenders, district attorneys, and the courts. Or at the federal level, they may investigate cases for agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of the responsibilities government attorneys have include:
- Interpreting the law to clients
- Ensuring security
- Build a strong economic system
- Craft a social policy
- Cope with demographic changes
- Participate in a range of line and central agencies
- Clearly write about complex issues
- Stay updated with changes in the law
- Defend or prosecute clients in the court
- If working at the federal level, you may possibly write laws
A strong sense of ethics and responsibility is needed to work as a government counsel. Good communication skills, reasoning, analytical skills, confidence, respect and a willingness to work long hours are also key characteristics one must possess to perform well in this position.
Government Attorney Salary
Working for the government has many benefits, including the average salary. Whether you work at the federal, state or local level, you can expect to make a decent amount of money each year. Federal government attorney’s average median wages were $123,660 in 2008. Local government attorney’s averaged $88,320 and state government attorney’s averaged $80,890 per year. Even new graduates are able to earn this kind of salary working in these positions, however, new graduates find it difficult landing these positions right out of law school since the government leans towards hiring experienced lawyers. Still, that should not prevent a prospective government attorney from trying to accomplish their goals.
Government Attorney Job Outlook
Government counsel positions can be hard to come by. Networking during law school is critical to helping you land entry-level government attorney jobs. The Department of Justice hires interns, who are then able to make the appropriate connections for the future. USAJobs.gov is the DOJ’s resource for government lawyer positions. With the large number of students graduating each year, competition for government jobs for new graduates can be difficult to overcome. Still, the government is beginning to regularly hire attorneys in full-time salaried positions. This position is also a great place to start if one is interested in politics or holding higher governmental positions. Moving up the government ladder isn’t far fetched when you start out with a Juris Doctor degree and land a government counsel job.