Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

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Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:38 pm

K-JD here, top 25% at T20 after fall 1L grades. I’m primarily interested in biglaw and potentially clerking. Strong ties to a secondary market, also targeting DC and NY.

I know the general rule is that it doesn’t matter what you do 1L summer as long as it’s something involving real legal work and it gives you something to talk about during OCI. However, my resume right now is completely filled with political work. Throughout UG I interned for a member of Congress and political consulting firm, both affiliated with the same party.

My CDO says that working on the Hill this summer could signal to firms (especially non-DC offices) that I’m a flight risk and am only there to jumpstart a policy career. They said this would be even more dramatic if I returned to work for the same member of Congress I’d previously interned for. Is there any truth to this? Or should I be content taking a Hill job, assuming I’d do substantive legal work? My alternative would likely be an RA gig.

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Mullens

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby Mullens » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:46 pm

lol no you’re a k-jd. you have nothing close to too much. Maybe if you were a chief of staff or ran campaigns for 10+ years.

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:50 am

I have 5 years of campaign and government on my resume, including with a very high profile scandal-ridden candidate. Can't say for certain that it didn't affect hiring, as there were a couple places I got callbacks but not offers. Still, walked away from the summer with 7 or 8 offers so it can't be dispositive.

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:26 am

The way that I look at this is that you want to have as many option as possible coming out of law school. But if you go back to the Hill, you are creating a narrative that you don't really want to practice law, and you will have to overcome this narrative via cover letters or explaining a red flag during firm interviews. Why create this red flag when you have other options? It seems silly. Don't default to what you know--do something new to round out your resume.

I worked at Latham and we did have a few very political folks in my office (in CA). When it came time to do layoffs, they were both likely candidates, because their rep around the office was, they're "just putting in a year or two before they head back to the Hill." It absolutely hurt their reputation in terms of getting staffed or being seen as LT employees.

Your CDO is _not_ feeding you bad advice. They're on to something. Listen...you went to law school presumably to practice law. You've already interned with a Congressman (or two, or whatever). Do something new that helps your resume this summer: practice law.

/endrant

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby nealric » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:54 am

To answer thread title: of course.

You are interviewing for a job as an attorney- not as a lobbyist, fundraiser, or political strategist. If you were interviewing someone for an engineering job and their resume was all accounting roles, of course you'd find that a bit weird. All that is separate from the fact that the person interviewing you may have implicit bias against you if they are from the opposite political persuasion.

Far better to have an actual legal role this summer if you are primarily interested in legal employment. It's true that a high-end political job can be a gateway to a career- but some random staffer job won't cut it. If you were chief of staff to someone important, that could get you in the door- but likely in a primarily political role.

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby kyle1978 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:53 am

Im an attorney in BigFed and routinely review the resumes of our applicants. One thing I've noticed more and more the last few years is that resumes are increasingly addressing how pro-gay, pro-abortion, pro-liberal they are along with all the political campaigns they've worked on. We are not permitted to hire anyone based on political leanings. Many people in our office discard the resume if it is too political. Just one perspective here.

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:02 pm

OP: I think that there are two issues presented in your initial post in this thread.

The first issue has been addressed thoroughly by the above posters.

The second issue seems to be a decision about what to do this summer among your three options:
1) Work as a Congressional staffer again
2) Work on the Hill doing substantive legal work
3) Or be an RA

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:07 pm

OP here, I really appreciate all of the responses. It's great to get a bunch of opinions on this.

I just want to clarify a few of the points raised in the following posts:

nealric wrote:Far better to have an actual legal role this summer if you are primarily interested in legal employment.

Anonymous User wrote:Why create this red flag when you have other options? It seems silly. Don't default to what you know--do something new to round out your resume...

You've already interned with a Congressman (or two, or whatever). Do something new that helps your resume this summer: practice law.

/endrant

CanadianWolf wrote:OP: I think that there are two issues presented in your initial post in this thread.

The first issue has been addressed thoroughly by the above posters.

The second issue seems to be a decision about what to do this summer among your three options:
1) Work as a Congressional staffer again
2) Work on the Hill doing substantive legal work
3) Or be an RA


The work I would be doing on the Hill would be substantive legal work - i.e. with the title of "Law Clerk", not "Legislative Intern" or something similar. I'd be writing briefs, getting a real usable writing sample, etc. Apologies for not clarifying this in the OP. Would this change your opinion on the validity of the work, or would an RA position still be generally recommended over legal work on the Hill?

kyle1978 wrote:Im an attorney in BigFed and routinely review the resumes of our applicants. One thing I've noticed more and more the last few years is that resumes are increasingly addressing how pro-gay, pro-abortion, pro-liberal they are along with all the political campaigns they've worked on. We are not permitted to hire anyone based on political leanings. Many people in our office discard the resume if it is too political. Just one perspective here.


Coming off as overly political is my main concern. I'm extremely moderate and voted against my party (GOP) in 2016, but all of the politicians on my resume are Republicans. I don't want employers to have preconceived notions based solely off my resume and the work I've done.

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:58 pm

Legal Clerk doing substantive legal work is an excellent option, in my opinion.

As an RA, would you be entitled to classes tuition free ? If so, another great option.

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:03 pm

I saw someone get rejected for a clerkship because of ties to Ajit Pai listed on a resume. No joke.

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Re: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH political work on a resume?

Postby globetrotter659 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:11 pm

1. Have a good answer for why a firm and not a return to public service.

2. Don’t fall into the “Policy Trap” during interviews. Firms are hiring you for your legal skill and interest not your policy expertise. Too many people who only have work experience in the public sector view law as an extension of policy since that is what they see at work. The end result is that they spend the whole interview talking about policy rather than why their legal ability is a good fit for the firm.



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