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Benefits of Working for the Government as an Attorney

Q. ''Dear Legal Eagle, what are the benefits of working in the government as opposed to a law firm as an attorney?''

A. Here at Legal Authority we do not believe many attorneys could find a better job than working for the Federal or State government as an attorney. One of our Employment Advocates used to work for the United States Department of Justice and, the way he tells it, after 5:00 p.m. each evening you could fire a cannon down the hall. In all seriousness, though, there are some major advantages to choosing a career with the Government.

First, there can be a great deal of security in a position with the government. Many government attorneys practice their entire careers with the government and face little prospect of a layoff due to economic winds or something of the sort. Government jobs—for the most part—are there to stay.

Second, working for the government has a very laizze faire attitude to it which likely derives from the fact attorneys working for the government do not need to justify their hours and so forth. Attorneys working for the government are often quite collegial with one other and there is a fraternity of sorts among many government attorneys.

Third, the work in government attorney jobs can be immensely interesting. For example, you may be working on the type of high-profile litigation you might see only once or twice in a law firm career. The work can also be quite ''hands on” and many government attorneys spend at least one day a week in court. For other types of government attorneys, they may be involved in important policy work that has a significant impact on what is going on in the world around them.

Fourth, the benefits are also extremely good in government positions. The health care and retirement benefits often far eclipse what one could earn in private practice.

At the end of the day, many attorneys do not choose to go to work for the government. One of the largest reasons they do not choose to do so is due to financial concerns. Nevertheless, many government attorneys do make over $100,000 a year and live lives that are quite comfortable in all respects. Sure, there are not brand new Porsche in most of their futures; however, money is not the be all and end all of life for most government attorneys. Many government attorneys simply enjoy the work that they do and enjoy practicing law with like minded individuals.

Another thing that is important to keep in mind about government work is the tremendous types of lives that government attorneys can often have in comparison to their law firm brethren. Most government attorneys are consistently home at normal hours to spend time with their families. Most government attorneys know that their job is not going to go anywhere if the economy takes a nasty turn. Most government attorneys also have time to enjoy leisure activities outside of work. At work, many government attorneys are working on extremely interesting work.

Surprisingly, government opportunities are not something our clients at Legal Authority request that we track down for them very often. This, of course, is interesting when you consider the super lives many government attorneys lead and how interesting the work is. While the searches we generally conduct for government attorneys are often much smaller than the searches attorneys conduct for law firm or in-house positions, they are often our most satisfying searches because we know we are unlikely to ever see the government attorney again. This means the attorney is carrying on a happy life and career, which is really all it is about in the end.

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