In my introductory blog post, I briefly touched upon some of the many career paths that are available to recent law school graduates or newly minted attorneys. Today, I want to give you a primer on how all of that training can help you should you decide to pursue a legislative career.
A quick caveat before I get started: As my career thus far has only taken me to the steps of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, I am not yet qualified to speak on what the situation is like on Capitol Hill in D.C. Instead of trying to draw vague comparisons and contrasts between the two, I will limit this post — and any future posts dealing with legislative topics — to my experiences at the state level. Just know that there will surely be some similar aspects at the federal level but that it could also be quite different.
That being said, shall we begin?
In some ways, the most difficult step in beginning a legislative career in Annapolis is actually getting the job in the first place. The bad news is — assuming that you are even able to find out about the job opening and meet all the qualifications for it — you still have to compete for one position against dozens of other candidates who are likely just as qualified as you, if not more so. And while having existing connections in Annapolis might help you find out about more job openings, it is by no means a guarantee of getting hired.
The good news is that you have a wide variety of options when it comes to what exactly you can do with a law degree in Annapolis. If you are more interested in the political side of things, you could go after a position as a legislative assistant to one of the delegates or senators. Good with numbers and like to write? The Department of Legislative Services always needs hard-working people to prepare fiscal notes for the bills that are drafted each year. The important thing is, even if you don’t immediately find your dream job, simply getting your foot in any door in Annapolis is the best way to work toward that goal.
You should also know that working in Annapolis during each year’s 90-day legislative session is an experience that cannot easily be described to “outsiders.” Because of the compressed timeline, all of the procedural requirements and the sheer amount of bills introduced, legislators and staff do an entire year’s worth of work in just three months. I point this out because, unlike most people, you can draw from a similar experience to help you prepare for it: the bar exam. In fact, one could even say that it is like studying for a new bar exam every year.
(Now, please understand, I am not trying to dissuade you from making this choice; I just want you to be prepared for the reality of the situation.)
“So, Nick,” you’re thinking, “why on Earth would I want to work in Annapolis after reading this post?”
Quite simple: Because of the feeling you will get when you see something that you contributed to become successful. When a piece of legislation that you worked on passes on the last day of the session. When a press release that you wrote gets picked up by the local media. When a long and complex hearing before your committee goes off without a hitch.
And to me, that feeling is worth all the early mornings and late nights that a job in Annapolis requires.