Options for federal government employment include executive branch agencies, Capitol Hill offices, and federal judges’ chambers. For further information about federal clerkships, please visit our judicial clerkships page and contact OCPD at (202) 319-5132 or email@example.com.
Executive Branch Agencies
Executive branch agencies usually hire entry-level attorneys through government honors programs. To obtain a list of these positions, please visit The Government Honors & Internship Handbook (contact OCPD for username and password) or PSJD, which also produces a Federal Legal Employment Guide. Additional attorney positions are listed at the federal government's main hiring website, USAJOBS. Students interested in federal agency employment are also encouraged to sign up for email alerts on my.usajobs.gov to receive the latest job postings.
Most, if not all, federal government agencies employ attorneys either to provide legal counsel or to work in an alternative capacity. Some government agencies employ a large number of attorneys, such as Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The function of the attorney varies by agency. In many agencies, the general counsel’s office provides support to the other offices in the legislative and regulatory arena. Other common duties of federal government attorneys include providing legal advice on issues, drafting legislation or regulations, writing administrative opinions, representing the agency in administrative hearings, researching and developing positions on issues, and reviewing compliance with laws and regulations.
If you are interested in non-litigation programs in the federal government, also consider applying for the Presidential Management Fellowship Program. This program is highly competitive. If you are interested in applying, please visit the PMF website.
Capitol Hill Offices
Law school graduates typically obtain employment in two types of positions on Capitol Hill. First, attorneys are employed on congressional personal staffs as Legislative Assistants (LAs). Legislative Assistants monitor legislative developments, communicate with constituents, attend hearings, brief the Member or senior staff, etc. Second, attorneys are employed as staff members of congressional committees and subcommittees. While it is not a traditional practice of law, having a law degree is a valuable tool in understanding the workings of the legislative process.
Capitol Hill jobs are extremely competitive. Most offices strongly prefer to hire those with congressional and legislative experience. If you are seriously interested in pursing this field after graduation, use your time as a student to intern on the Hill. To secure an internship, you will usually need to approach the member’s office or committee or subcommittee to express your desire to be an intern. Because Capitol Hill offices are often approached by internship-seekers, they very rarely need to advertise or take proactive steps to find interns. Use connections and select committees/subcommittees which handle issues of interest to you.
There are two places to begin looking for a job on Capitol Hill. First, contact the office of your Representative and Senators. This approach applies to internships as well. Second, check the online and telephone resources available at the U.S. House of Representatives Employment Opportunities page, the U.S. Senate Placement Office, RCJobs, and HillZoo. Additionally, please reach out to OCPD for our handout on Capitol Hill job searches which provides guidance on preparing for a legislative career, as well as a list of alumni working on Capitol Hill who are available to speak with students.
If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact OCPD at (202) 319-5132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.