Downside to Working for Congress?

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Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:32 pm

Hi all,

I wanted to ask about what the potential downsides are to working for a representative or senator in Congress after law school (if you can get a position of course). Has anyone tried to do this and had it work out? Would it potentially make applying for certain positions afterwards difficult? Assume salary isn't a very high priority and I'm open to living in D.C. So basically it's mostly from a career perspective.

Thanks!

ballouttacontrol

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby ballouttacontrol » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:36 pm

depends on in what capacity. if it's not in a legal capacity ur legal career will sail away on you, but i doubt you'd care about that

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby foregetaboutdre » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:36 pm

It won't pay well. You have a 98% chance of not doing legally substantive work. But, if you want to work on the Hill/govt relations, this is the right move. IME govt relations likes to see JD after your name even if what you're doing really doesn't require one AT ALL.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby 1styearlateral » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:49 pm

Not sure if you weren't considering it, but even if you decide to go that route, still sit for a (any) bar exam. You'll always regret it if you don't, and you might be able to leverage your political connections to go into a gov. agency or private practice down the road.

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trebekismyhero

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby trebekismyhero » Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:08 pm

foregetaboutdre wrote:It won't pay well. You have a 98% chance of not doing legally substantive work. But, if you want to work on the Hill/govt relations, this is the right move. IME govt relations likes to see JD after your name even if what you're doing really doesn't require one AT ALL.


This. Good thing about the hill is even though salary sucks at first, you do move up really quick and usually within 5 years you can go to a firm and do gov't relations at a good salary. Hours on the hill during sessions can suck if you work for an active member/committee, but you make that up with a lot of recess.

And depending what you do on the hill, you can end up still at a firm doing regulatory work.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Barrred » Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:26 pm

Poverty.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:20 pm

Actually have wondered about this also. Is it possible to dip into politics/policy for a few years, whether or not at the beginning of your career (maybe that is an important distinction though) and then go back to regular practice, or is it like once you're out you're out?

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby trebekismyhero » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Actually have wondered about this also. Is it possible to dip into politics/policy for a few years, whether or not at the beginning of your career (maybe that is an important distinction though) and then go back to regular practice, or is it like once you're out you're out?


Depends on what you were practicing before and what you did on the hill/government. If you were in litigation/white collar investigations and then you go work on Oversight, Judiciary, and those types of things then you can easily go back to practice and I know plenty that have done that. If you were on the ag commitee might be a different answer. Also, definitely a difference in whether you start your career that way or you are already established. I know several partners at firms that went into gov't/politics doing non-legal work for a couple years and then went back to their firms no problem. Even some mid-level associates I know did that for a bit and were able to go back. But if you never worked at a firm and weren't doing legal work in politics I would think it would be impossible or close to it to practice law after that

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:08 am

Like others have said and you seem to be aware of, pay is terrible. And DC is not a cheap city. You do get a ton of time off with recesses that you will never see in private practice.

Everyone I know from class of 2013 that went to work on The Hill are still there. They do not do any true legal work and do not have any exit options. Although I will say most of them seemed to not have a burning desire to do so.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby albanach » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:Like others have said and you seem to be aware of, pay is terrible. And DC is not a cheap city. You do get a ton of time off with recesses that you will never see in private practice.

Everyone I know from class of 2013 that went to work on The Hill are still there. They do not do any true legal work and do not have any exit options. Although I will say most of them seemed to not have a burning desire to do so.


Of course they have exit options. The folk they work for can lose the next election.

Politics is fickle, and each side will have ups and downs. You are never more than an election away from losing your job.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:31 pm

OP here, to clarify, I'm very interested in politics and have been for a while. I'm not too worried about salary except that DC living expenses are supposed to be high (though I was in SF last summer, so I have some experience with high living expenses). I don't have much student loans (probably somewhere between 60-75k when I graduate) and I think my school has a decent LRAP, though not sure whether or not I would be covered as it might depend on the position or what kind of work I would do. My grades are probably about median or so at a T14 (13? whatever, not Georgetown).

If I do get a position, I'd probably consider taking the the California Bar, thanks for the advice.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby trebekismyhero » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:49 pm

You would probably qualify for LRAP, especially at a t13. Also, most members and committees offer tuition/loan reimbursements in addition to crappy salary. So something to ask about

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:20 pm

Following up on this, as another poser who is interested in potentially doing Hill work. How difficult it is it to nab one of these legislative assistant/correspondent jobs? From all the posts I've seen on WorkForCongress.com, it seems like there are a bunch of openings all the time, and JDs are heavily preferred.

For context, I went to a T2 state flagship, lots of PI internships, admitted to practice in two states, and am finishing a state trial court clerkship.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby clerk1251 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Following up on this, as another poser who is interested in potentially doing Hill work. How difficult it is it to nab one of these legislative assistant/correspondent jobs? From all the posts I've seen on WorkForCongress.com, it seems like there are a bunch of openings all the time, and JDs are heavily preferred.

For context, I went to a T2 state flagship, lots of PI internships, admitted to practice in two states, and am finishing a state trial court clerkship.


Is WorkForCongress.com a legit site? Looks kind of sketch, and you need to pay for a membership to see the postings? Plus, you're an annon poster - I'm curious if this is some sort of bad advertising tactic.

Alternatively, if you're not, want to share access to the site? PM me.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:57 pm

clerk1251 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Following up on this, as another poser who is interested in potentially doing Hill work. How difficult it is it to nab one of these legislative assistant/correspondent jobs? From all the posts I've seen on WorkForCongress.com, it seems like there are a bunch of openings all the time, and JDs are heavily preferred.

For context, I went to a T2 state flagship, lots of PI internships, admitted to practice in two states, and am finishing a state trial court clerkship.


Is WorkForCongress.com a legit site? Looks kind of sketch, and you need to pay for a membership to see the postings? Plus, you're an annon poster - I'm curious if this is some sort of bad advertising tactic.

Alternatively, if you're not, want to share access to the site? PM me.

OP here, I'm not trying to advertise for it, but I agree, it does look kind of sketchy. Still, I know it's legit because the postings line up with other job postings I've seen. I think whoever runs it just collects all the Hill jobs they see elsewhere and aggregates them there. I got an interview out of it before, so it seems legit.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Following up on this, as another poser who is interested in potentially doing Hill work. How difficult it is it to nab one of these legislative assistant/correspondent jobs? From all the posts I've seen on WorkForCongress.com, it seems like there are a bunch of openings all the time, and JDs are heavily preferred.

For context, I went to a T2 state flagship, lots of PI internships, admitted to practice in two states, and am finishing a state trial court clerkship.


Previous poster from class of 2013, similarly ranked school. Classmates I know did not have a problem getting LA jobs at all. It helps to have PI bend. Bar admission is not even required. Make sure you do not want to practice law.

They are abundant for a reason, though. The pay is extremely low. I do know one person who did move up to a more well-paying Hill position, but believe he/she was much more of anomaly and had a lot of luck & connections.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:19 pm

Currently working on the hill. For the poster asking about how to get a job. It's always about who you know. Moving up on the Hill is not hard, its the initial getting your foot in the door that is challenging. Think about, you have hundred of thousands of newly minted undergraduates a year who want to "change the world" so to speak who would love to chance to work on the Hill. You're competing with ALL of them.

Ways to get in by order of importance IMO
1. Know someone inside who can vouch for you
2. Work on campaigns
3. Intern for free (Congress basically runs on this. Without free interns, Congress would slow down to a snails pace)

I've seen people with graduate degrees and JD's start out as an intern or more commonly, entry level positions. You don't automatically get to have senior positions even if you have the educational credentials. Hill experience is the most important part--you start from the bottom and climb up. But again, getting to senior positions can be as short as 3-5 years. Turnover rate is extremely high on the hill. Barely anyone has institutional knowledge which is why lobbyists run our country. Blame it on the pay.

And if your office has the budget, you can get up to 10k a year towards your student debt. Not sure if there's a cap, but I assume there is. DC is expensive, but you can survive on 36k a year if you change your lifestyle.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 03, 2017 1:50 pm

Does anyone have any idea what the exit option are? I realize that there was a quick back and forth on this above about this but nothing substantive was provided. Obviously there is high turnover, so where do they go? Anecdotes are appreciated.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby trebekismyhero » Wed May 03, 2017 1:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone have any idea what the exit option are? I realize that there was a quick back and forth on this above about this but nothing substantive was provided. Obviously there is high turnover, so where do they go? Anecdotes are appreciated.


It totally depends on how senior you are and who you've been working for when you leave. If you have been on the hill for 3 years as a LA and you work for a no name member in the minority, your exit options suck.

If you are LD or COS for a senior member in the majority or staff director on an important committee you can end up VP of Gov't Affairs at a fortune 500 company. It all depends. I have friends on BOTH SIDES of the coin

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 03, 2017 2:09 pm

trebekismyhero wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone have any idea what the exit option are? I realize that there was a quick back and forth on this above about this but nothing substantive was provided. Obviously there is high turnover, so where do they go? Anecdotes are appreciated.


It totally depends on how senior you are and who you've been working for when you leave. If you have been on the hill for 3 years as a LA and you work for a no name member in the minority, your exit options suck.

If you are LD or COS for a senior member in the majority or staff director on an important committee you can end up VP of Gov't Affairs at a fortune 500 company. It all depends. I have friends on BOTH SIDES of the coin

Mind if I PM you to ask a little more pointed questions?

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trebekismyhero

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby trebekismyhero » Wed May 03, 2017 2:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
trebekismyhero wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone have any idea what the exit option are? I realize that there was a quick back and forth on this above about this but nothing substantive was provided. Obviously there is high turnover, so where do they go? Anecdotes are appreciated.


It totally depends on how senior you are and who you've been working for when you leave. If you have been on the hill for 3 years as a LA and you work for a no name member in the minority, your exit options suck.

If you are LD or COS for a senior member in the majority or staff director on an important committee you can end up VP of Gov't Affairs at a fortune 500 company. It all depends. I have friends on BOTH SIDES of the coin

Mind if I PM you to ask a little more pointed questions?


Sure

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 03, 2017 2:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Following up on this, as another poser who is interested in potentially doing Hill work. How difficult it is it to nab one of these legislative assistant/correspondent jobs? From all the posts I've seen on WorkForCongress.com, it seems like there are a bunch of openings all the time, and JDs are heavily preferred.

For context, I went to a T2 state flagship, lots of PI internships, admitted to practice in two states, and am finishing a state trial court clerkship.


Try BradTraverse.com for additional openings. It's like $5 a month but lists many political positions. It's best to get an insider to recommend you though. If you have any connections try to use them.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby poptart123 » Wed May 03, 2017 2:30 pm

Accidental anon above.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby FSK » Wed May 03, 2017 2:40 pm

I've done a lot of research on this. Starting from the bottom is awful, but it can be done. I know of one Chief of Staff who started from the bottom from a mediocre law school.

The better way is to grind out 5 years in a relevant substantive area, while volunteering on campaigns and doing ACS/FedSoc and the like, and then jump in at the LA/Counsel level.
Last edited by FSK on Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 04, 2017 3:31 pm

FSK wrote:I've done a lot of research on this. Starting from the bottom is awful, but it can be done. I know of one Chief of Staff who started from the bottom from a mediocre law school.

The better way is to grind out 5 years in a relevant substantive area, while volunteering on campaigns and doing ACS/FedSoc and the like, and then jump in at the LA/Counsel level.


Interested in this. I assume "relevant substantive area" would have to be something in litigation (i.e. white-collar crime, etc.)? Does it matter whether you're practicing in NY or DC before you try to make the jump?

Currently a first-year NY corp associate and I hate it. Want to move over to lit ---> fed govt and the path you outlined above seems ideal.



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