Campaign Finance Law / Non-traditional gov't positions

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Campaign Finance Law / Non-traditional gov't positions

Postby TLSNYC » Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:38 pm

With the citizens united case and Congress moving to abolish public financing for Presidential candidates, it has started to pique my interest in campaign finance law. I was wondering if there is room for someone to be a lawyer specifically interested in these kinds of issues. Is this field of interest so narrow that it's not likely someone could find a job in it? Would the only real place to do this be the FEC? Also, I'm wondering how a JD sets someone up for gov't positions in the US Congress (i.e. staff for a congressional committee), or legislative branches across America, even positions as political aides (this last one I'm assuming is probably more about connections than the JD). I've started looking into the PMF and am wondering what the exit options are for a lawyer coming out of it? Is it essentially a waste to get a JD and then jump into that program since you won't be doing legal work really? I realize this is long and filled with a bunch of questions, so I appreciate the time people are spending to read and respond!

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Re: Campaign Finance Law / Non-traditional gov't positions

Postby Kochel » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:52 am

Don't know about gov't/nonprofit work in this area, but a number of Biglaw firms have political law practices (often in their DC offices). These are staffed both by partner-track associates and laterals from government agencies. As an in-house lawyer, I actually spend quite a bit of my time on political law issues on behalf of my employer, and often resort to outside counsel for help with interpretation and regulatory filings. A few things to keep in mind when considering this practice area:

1. Political law encompasses more than campaign finance. Lobbying, gifts and entertainment and occasionally even government contracting also come into play, and a Biglaw associate in a political law practice will spend lots of time in these additional, mind-numbingly boring areas. (Campaign finance issues naturally tend to be cyclical.)

2. It's not just federal law that clients worry about. I have to worry about myriad state and municipal-level regulations. There's a lot of 50-state survey-type work for lawyers who specialize in this area. Lots of minute variations and acres of paperwork. Again, mind-numbing stuff.

3. In private practice, your clients will be the evil corporations who do their best to buy influence and corrupt political candidates. To them, Citizens United is the charter of liberty. Your job will be to help them. No place for idealist crusaders in this field (except in the government agencies, of course).

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Re: Campaign Finance Law / Non-traditional gov't positions

Postby jonas » Fri Jan 28, 2011 6:16 pm

Check out the firm Perkins Coie:

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