Federal & State Agencies
The federal government is one of the largest employers of attorneys in the United States. Because of its national scope, diverse areas of operation and large number of departments and agencies, there are a wide variety of legal fields and geographic locations from which to choose. Many agencies offer summer clerkship programs for second-year law students. No uniform hiring procedures exist among the federal agencies: some hire through a central office while others leave hiring decisions to individual divisions. Changes to federal recruitment and hiring are scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2010. Although a full list of changes are not yet known, some of the changes include: elimination of KSA essays from the initial phase of the application process; allowing applicants to rely on resumes and cover letters, or other straightforward application procedures; an 80-day hiring model from job posting to offer; and federal job announcements that are easily understood.
Many of the deadlines are in mid-September, although some deadlines may occur earlier. The key to your job search with a federal agency is learning and understanding the recruitment process within that agency. Some agencies accept application materials and hire year round while others accept applications only in the fall. Some agencies hire graduates directly out of law school only if they have clerked for the agency as a second-year student. Other agencies are looking for attorneys with at least one to two years of experience. For more information about these different internship/honors programs and deadlines, visit the Government Honors & Internship Handbook. Please contact the Placement Office at 850.644.4495 for login information.
Florida state government offers opportunities for attorneys in virtually all of its agencies. Although most positions are located in Tallahassee, some agencies have openings in other parts of the state as well. Each agency is responsible for its own hiring. To identify job opportunities in the executive and judicial branches of government, students may contact either the general counsel’s office or the personnel office of the agency in which they are interested. The legislative branch maintains its own system for listing jobs and the Joint Legislative Management Committee personnel office handles all hiring for the legislative branch.
Finding a state agency position is a two-step process. The first step involves researching agencies and employment opportunities well in advance of your expected graduation. The Career Placement Office can assist you with this. The second step involves searching for a specific job in an agency. State agencies typically offer positions during a student's last semester of law school as most state agencies hire as the need arises and are not able to recruit and hire well in advance of graduation.
Some state agencies also hire law clerks during the school year or summer. Visit My Florida.com for information about the various Florida state agencies. Many agencies post jobs on the web at People First. You can join a listserve to obtain e-mail notifications when a job opening that meets your criteria becomes available.
States outside of Florida vary in how the state handles legal issues for each agency. Some states, like Georgia, handle all of their legal issues in the State Attorney General's Office, instead of having attorneys for each agency. Please come talk with the Career Placement staff to learn about researching state agency practices in different states.