Working in city government

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arvcondor
Posts: 371
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:33 pm

Working in city government

Postby arvcondor » Sun May 01, 2011 12:58 am

I'm curious if anyone here either has experience working in city government, either as a city solicitor or some other way in city hall (as a councilperson aide, for example). I'll be going to Temple in the Fall and, as someone who has lived in Philly for a while now, I know that getting into City Hall requires a lot of connections. I've got a few, but I'd have to forge many more, and I don't know how effective cold-calling people in city council would be.

If anyone has done something like this or know someone who has, I'd love to hear what the path to it was.

NVResident
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:16 pm

Re: Working in city government

Postby NVResident » Sun May 01, 2011 1:27 am

As someone who has actually been a city council person for a cit of about 200,000 population, my advice if you want to make contacts with elected officials is to either volunteer on their campaigns or get involved with a local organization or party with which they are affiliated. People (including council people) generally like to help out those who they see as "on their team". When I got involved in city government, it was through volunteer work with the local Chamber of Commerce. This put me in contact with council members who were supported by the Chamber and led to an appointment on the Planning Commission which, in turn, led to my being elected to the council.

This can work with almost any interest or affiliation. For example, if you are really into environmental causes you can get involved with organizations specific to the municipality you are in. More often than not, there will be people from the city who share your passion who are also involved. This could lead to serving on a city commission or committee focused on that area.

Bottom line, at the local level it is important to be actively involved in something that makes a difference in the community to make good contacts. Just cold calling and/or getting a one-on-one meeting is likely not going to have the desired result. There is a huge need for those who are willing to devote their time and effort to making their city better. There is also a glut of those simply wanting to further their own careers and influence without putting in any real effort. Council members are usually very good at being able to separate the former from the latter. Get out there and do some real work and show some real commitment and I guarantee you will be noticed.

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arvcondor
Posts: 371
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:33 pm

Re: Working in city government

Postby arvcondor » Sun May 01, 2011 2:05 am

That's excellent advice. Since I'm still a 0L, how do these activities fit in with law school? Does it mean taking summer internships in these sorts of things? I'm just questioning my ability to have loads of free time to devote to volunteer work, despite a genuine commitment to bettering the city.

Thanks again for your response.

NVResident
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:16 pm

Re: Working in city government

Postby NVResident » Sun May 01, 2011 12:42 pm

In your 1L year, at least during the semester, you will probably not have a lot of time to devote to volunteering. That being said, summer of 2012 would be an ideal time to offer your services to the campaign of a local official who you like (especially since 1L's typically don't get good SA positions). If you contact local organizations who are doing work you support, they will usually be more than happy to get any help that fits into your schedule. Oftentimes they just need 8 hours on a weekend for a local clean-up or festival. You'd be surprised at the contacts you meet at those kind of things. You are also meeting people in a more informal context that allows for a much higher quality interaction.

Good Luck. I loved my time in city government and would not trade the experience for anything.




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