How to break into procurement law?

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How to break into procurement law?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:23 pm

I am a 3L at a top 15 mid-country law school, and I was wondering about the field of government procurement since I am a vet (TP-5 point preference, and also eligible for a noncompetitive Schedule A disability appointment) and more interested in the business side of things, etc, after my federal agency job fell through due to the budget crisis. I'm guessing that big law is likely out at this time.

I've started applying for the 1102 series "Contract Specialist" jobs on USAJobs, but I discovered that George Washington University has an LLM in Government Procurement Law. I am not really considering doing an LLM, but it seems like its long-term existence implies the existence of a LEGAL field in this area.

My question is ... how is the legal field in procurement different than the Quartermaster series in the military, 1102 in the civilian fed side, and whatever the equivalent is in federal contractors? Basically, how would someone manage this career as a lawyer practicing law, or is it the norm to start out as an 1102?

I'm pretty disappointed by my school's lack of resources and networking opportunities for anything other than local issues, and I am wondering how to break into this field since I do have (under 1 year) of experience in it. Are 1102 Contract Specialist positions in the competitive service the way to go, or is there a more law-oriented side I should be looking at? There are a lot of these on USAJobs, and I'm wondering if the GW LLM is geared towards these - which do make use of law - or something else.

GW also has an MS in Government Contracts. But it's debatable whether its useful for someone as close to entry level as me, and the cost is somewhat prohibitive considering that the entry-level 1102 series jobs seem satisfied with just a JD, though my lack of 1+ years of "specialized experience" is an issue despite vet pref.

Anonymous User
Posts: 271058
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How to break into procurement law?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:42 pm

I realize this thread is a little old, but since no one responded, I'll give it a shot.

1) Don't do the GW LLM or the other GW degree, at least not right now.

2) The FedGov Contract Specialist/Officer jobs are extremely competitive. They are not legal positions, but many people that apply and do these jobs do have JDs. Just having a JD alone won't make you a shoe-in.

3) I have no idea about the military correlation or what is equivalent. I will tell you that in government contracts (civilian) you will be primarily working with the Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) a very complex piece of law. FAR isn't really taught in law schools or anything other school per se (though this may be slowly changing), it's something you learn on the job. For the Contract Specialist jobs, you will need to demonstrate knowledge and experience with the FAR even if it says in the description they will train you or that it is an entry level position. This is because many of the people you will be competing against are well-versed in the FAR.

To give you an idea, there is exactly one classmate I know of that landed a Contract Specialist/Officer job right out of law school. This guy had 10 years of pre-law work experience with a big gov. IT contractor and came from one of the lower T14.

Also, look at the Federal Soup forums and you'll see a lot more detail on what it takes to land a Fed job in today's market. It's pretty eye-opening and humbling.

4) It is possible to transition from a non-attorney position at Federal agencies to an attorney position but I don't think it's something you can do after 6 months on the'll have to put your time in.

5) For jobs related to government contracts, try to think beyond just federal government jobs. A lot of the big government contractors (and smaller ones) have people on staff that do this type of work also. The hard part is getting a foot in the door...good luck

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