Municipal/Public Law - Private Practice - General ?s

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Municipal/Public Law - Private Practice - General ?s

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:28 pm

I realize this is pretty much looking for a needle in a haystack, but does anyone work for or used to work for a firm that represents many municipalities (e.g. counties, cities) and public entities (e.g. school districts, utilities etc...) as a type of general counsel. Trying to stay anonymous, but think of a private firm that has ~30-100 attorneys and they have a large municipal group. AFAIK they are not paid by insurance carriers.

My main questions are:

1. It seems these attorneys do a wide variety of stuff (from litigation to counseling) - is losing "specialization" skills bad?

2. What type of exit options are there (I can honestly only think of moving as an in-house municipal lawyer or switching firms).

Any perspectives would be appreciated. Pay is pretty good (obviously not Cravath, but better than comparable government jobs).

miabemiyuki

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Re: Municipal/Public Law - Private Practice - General ?s

Postby miabemiyuki » Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:38 pm

I work for a public law firm (50~100 attorneys) that specializes in public entity representation. My group focuses on municipal law and we represent several cities and special districts. I enjoy it very much.

1. It seems these attorneys do a wide variety of stuff (from litigation to counseling) - is losing "specialization" skills bad?


If what you mean by "losing specialization skills" is that public law attorneys only provide general advice across a variety of fields and never really focus on any particular one, I would say that's not true and you won't be "losing" any specialization skills. There are many areas in local government practice, such as planning and land use, in which municipal law attorneys can become experts. My firm also provides larger scale representation for public entities such as environmental review/litigation, regulatory compliance, construction litigation, and employment law services. So the depth of your knowledge in a particular field depends on your practice group, but you become generally knowledgeable in a lot of things while people will come to you asking for advice on things that are your specialty. I like to think that municipal law practice provides you the ability to develop a special set of skills while being able to give general advice on issues that public entities encounter. The skills you learn at these firms are always transferable and you're not stuck in a niche area like juvenile dependency or something where it's difficult to get out.

2. What type of exit options are there (I can honestly only think of moving as an in-house municipal lawyer or switching firms).

Becoming in-house city attorneys, county attorneys, general counsels or lateraling are definitely the biggest exit options. It's very common for people to switch back and forth between government and private practice. A lot of people start in private practice, jump ship to government, retire, and then go back to private practice or hang their own shingles for contract city attorney work which tends to be lucrative. I hear some people switch gears to become DAs. I also know a few municipal lawyers who became city managers. There are also some people who go work for the state legislature or a regulatory committee.

*Depending on where you work, some in-house gov attorney jobs actually pay better than these private firms. With benefits, too.

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Posts: 313112
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Re: Municipal/Public Law - Private Practice - General ?s

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:28 pm

miabemiyuki wrote:I work for a public law firm (50~100 attorneys) that specializes in public entity representation. My group focuses on municipal law and we represent several cities and special districts. I enjoy it very much.

1. It seems these attorneys do a wide variety of stuff (from litigation to counseling) - is losing "specialization" skills bad?


If what you mean by "losing specialization skills" is that public law attorneys only provide general advice across a variety of fields and never really focus on any particular one, I would say that's not true and you won't be "losing" any specialization skills. There are many areas in local government practice, such as planning and land use, in which municipal law attorneys can become experts. My firm also provides larger scale representation for public entities such as environmental review/litigation, regulatory compliance, construction litigation, and employment law services. So the depth of your knowledge in a particular field depends on your practice group, but you become generally knowledgeable in a lot of things while people will come to you asking for advice on things that are your specialty. I like to think that municipal law practice provides you the ability to develop a special set of skills while being able to give general advice on issues that public entities encounter. The skills you learn at these firms are always transferable and you're not stuck in a niche area like juvenile dependency or something where it's difficult to get out.

2. What type of exit options are there (I can honestly only think of moving as an in-house municipal lawyer or switching firms).

Becoming in-house city attorneys, county attorneys, general counsels or lateraling are definitely the biggest exit options. It's very common for people to switch back and forth between government and private practice. A lot of people start in private practice, jump ship to government, retire, and then go back to private practice or hang their own shingles for contract city attorney work which tends to be lucrative. I hear some people switch gears to become DAs. I also know a few municipal lawyers who became city managers. There are also some people who go work for the state legislature or a regulatory committee.

*Depending on where you work, some in-house gov attorney jobs actually pay better than these private firms. With benefits, too.


Thanks this was totally awesome!



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