mrtoren wrote:jtemp320 wrote:Having worked in around local and state politics in a major city and obsessively followed national politics this seems to be TCR to me.
If you want to get involved in politics - work in politics don't go to law school.
If you have serious talent and ambition and want to be a candidate yourself one day then focus on building a successful career first and remain active in politics (as a donor, activist etc.) until you have "made it". Think about building a serious network that will help you whether you ever go into politics or not. As for choosing a law school - you can pretty much follow the TLS conventional wisdom - go to a T14 if you can, if not go to school in the market you want to be in (and run in) and don't go at sticker . This will help you because the goal is to have a successful career as a lawyer.
If politics interests you - remain involved. Once you are a successful in private practice and have serious people who would back you, or have achieved something solid in government (as a high level staffer, interest group lawyer, prosecutor etc.) then you can squeeze anyone you've ever met for $ and support and run for something small, if you win then you start trying to move up the chain.
Where do you recommend working if one is attempting to establish a name in politics? I bypassed several offers from U.S. Representative's offices at my school and up near my home because I felt they would get me no where. The intern work appeared to be limited to filing papers and answering phones..both of which seem meaningless and unappealing to me. Instead, I decided to work with a state-level political organization that offered more hands-on work. The organization coordinates all of the Democratic State Senator's election campaigns...everything from finances to opposition research, social media management to press releases and district research. They even choose the candidates. Its a small of office of roughly a half dozen people and they're hiring on a dozen interns to help them prepare for the 2012 elections.
I'm really excited about this internship and plan to spend most of my free time at the office. However, I worry about being limited to state politics if I don't play my cards right. Not that that would be terrible, I would just like to have a choice if the time ever came. Should I be looking to make the jump to a U.S. Representative's office next summer if the opportunity arises? Or should I try to rise through the state ranks first?
I would agree climbing the chain on Capitol Hill is a grind - sometimes worth it as a career path but sometimes not. At the entry level the pay will be next to nothing and the work really menial. Interning on the Hill is not a bad deal though - you make good contacts and get to learn that world better. I've found that campaigns are a good way to get your foot in the door - same thing re: the pay and work (will often feel menial and the hours are insane) but their short term nature allows you to make realtionships and then have the chance to move up fairly often - however its very unstable work (lots of periods of insane work with unemployment in between). From there my friends have gone to work for state parties, in policy if their candidates win and they have good enough credentials, for consulting firms etc.
I think its important to distinguish what your end goal is...do you want to be a candidate one day (remember this is like picking movie star as a career ambition...if you choose that path you need to know your backup is) or do you want to be a policy staffer or run campaigns?