Getting involved in politics????

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)
User avatar
jtemp320
Posts: 481
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:27 pm

Re: Getting involved in politics????

Postby jtemp320 » Sun May 15, 2011 4:33 pm

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?

HWS08
Posts: 179
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:32 am

Re: Getting involved in politics????

Postby HWS08 » Sun May 15, 2011 4:34 pm

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've worked on campaigns/currently work in a field related to politics and government. I actually don't think it matters where you went to school if you are going after an elected position, voters probably won't care all that much. If you are after an appointed position it may matter, but I'm not even sure about that. Some of my observations:

1. Name recognition is very important, especially for your first campaign. The type of job you have is not really what matters, what matters is your level of activism in the community. Some fields lend themselves to that type of exposure more naturally, but you can also build that up by being involved in charities and volunteer organizations at the grassroots level, getting a leadership position in neighborhood organizations, getting yourself appointed to boards at non-profits, etc. Try to do things that will build up publicity for yourself (maybe your local newspaper runs articles on community members that are doing cool things, or you could write some op-eds).

2. Having connections to other elected officials and the decision-makers in your state political party can be helpful in securing a nomination as well as during a campaign when you need funding. Working for an elected official can accomplish this, as can working on campaigns, attending the meetings of your local Dem/Republican committee, or just being a community member who attends campaign fundraisers.

3. If you want to get an appointed position, connections to the people making the appointments is what matters. In this case, it's probably best to go to whatever school has a lot of well-connected alums in the state whose political system you hope to get involved in.

Overall, I still think it's better to pick your school based on what will give you the best career options outside of elected/appointed office. Politics can be a very unstable field and it's a good idea to have a solid resume and career you can go back to you in case you lose your campaign (or decide later that you actually don't want to run for office).




Return to “Law School FAQ”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests