Your experience in federal government will be highly dependent on exactly which agency you're in. I spent a few years in a backwater agency that had horrible office politics and was extraordinarily rigid in its hierarchy. Things were also set up to make it extremely difficult to leave. Attorneys had little to no contact with the outside world, so it was virtually impossible to build much of a network, which can be pretty vital for finding a new job, especially in a niche practice area. Because the office lagged behind other agencies in advancing attorneys along the GS scale (in most places, it's one grade per year, in this agency it averaged one grade every 2-3 years), I wasn't eligible for similar positions in other agencies, since even though I had the required number of years of experience, those years weren't at the required GS level. It was also extraordinarily difficult to get challenging, substantive assignments, as everyone was constantly fighting over the crumbs. And before you jump to the conclusion that I was just a poor performer, keep in mind that after leaving the agency and volunteering for 6 months, I was able to land a very high-responsibility job elsewhere. I wouldn't ever go back to that agency.