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What Does a Government Lawyer Really Do?

A government attorney is an attorney that works in the different branches of the government. Depending on where they work, government attorneys handle a range of legal issues that affect the city, the state, or the federal government.

What Does a Government Lawyer Do?

The specific tasks of a government lawyer will vary depending on where they work. A local attorney, for instance, may work on advising local authorities and prosecuting criminal activities. A federal attorney, on the other hand, may focus more on policy issues, drafting regulations, and writing legal reviews.

What Type of Work Does a Government Lawyer Do?

As stated above, the type of work a government lawyer does depends on which governmental office they work in. But generally speaking, some of the work a government lawyer does may include:

  • Representing the government in court
  • Providing legal services that are in the interest of the public
  • Enforcing local and city ordinances
  • Providing assistance to other governmental agencies
  • Preparing legal opinions for matters pending before the court

How Do You Become a Government Lawyer?

All attorneys, either private or governmental, go through the same process depending on the state where they wish to be licensed. Usually, if you want to be a government lawyer, you must go through the following educational steps:

  • Get a college degree
  • Take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Law schools in most cases will take into account your LSAT scores before they admit you into law school.
  • Complete a JD (Juris Doctor) program
  • Pass the bar exam in the state you want to practice in

How to Get a Job as a Government Attorney

If you want to work as a government attorney, you have to first fulfill the educational requirements and pass the bar exam.

Then, check the government's website to see if there are any job openings available. You can also use websites that are designed to search for job openings in your location.

It is also important to note government employers look for some specific qualities in their employees. These include:

  • Commitment to public service
  • Previous experience in government, either through internships or clerkships
  • Writing skills

Most government agencies hire their law clerks, so it would be beneficial for you to try to find a job there as a law clerk while you are in law school.

What Is the Average Salary for a Government Attorney?

Your salary as a government employee will vary depending on your experience and the institution you work in. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS") shows the median salary for an attorney, as of 2019, is $120,090. This is closer to what a lawyer working for the federal government might make. Prosecutors tend to make far less, averaging around $65,000.

Difference Between a Government Lawyer and a Private Lawyer

Although both government and private lawyers must pass through the same education, there are some major differences between them.

Government lawyers mainly work to uphold the interest of citizens or the government institution they work at. Private lawyers, on the other hand, represent and work for corporations and individuals.

How Can a Government Lawyer Help Me?

A good government lawyer can help you with a range of legal issues. If you are involved in a criminal matter and can't afford to hire a private attorney, the state will hire a public defender for you. The public defender will work to ensure you get a fair trial and that all your rights are protected.

A government attorney may also help you in civil matters, including civil rights and discrimination issues.

Additional Resources

A Government Attorney May Help You With Your Legal Needs

Are you entitled to services and benefits from the state or federal government? Speaking to a government attorney may be the best option for you to address your legal concerns.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney to make sure your rights and interests get protected.

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