Legal jobs may be scarce in the private sector, but the federal government, it seems, still has a constant need for new lawyers.
It helps of course if you have experience in government contracts or a security clearance - or if you’re willing to work for $40,093 for the Army in Germany. As a new monthly feature, the BLT will highlight some of the current federal job listings, looking at which agencies are hiring and why, as well as some of the quirkier legal jobs in the corners of agencies you’ve never even heard of.
Given the state of the nation's banks, it's not too surprising that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has job openings for at least four lawyers in various offices around the country. In 2009, the agency said it planned to increase head count in its legal division from 453 to 648. As a bonus, the pay for the current positions tops out at just over $200,000 a year. Select financial regulatory agencies have their own pay scale, which is higher than the standard General Schedule. In Washington, the GS scale maxes out at $153,200.
For the really big government bucks, check out the Office of Thrift Supervision, which currently has a legal job that pays up to $217,040. Hey - that’s almost as much as a fifth year big firm associate - and $360 less than John Roberts makes as chief justice of the Supreme Court.
As for those with a hankering to work at the high court but just can’t keep waiting for another justice to retire, there’s the ultimate legal secretary job. An unnamed justice is looking for a new legal assistant/ secretary, and experience as a paralegal or lawyer is “highly preferred.” The catch – you need to know shorthand.
The Securities & Exchange Commission has several vacancies for lawyers. Historically, the agency has had unusually high turnover, and the Bernard Madoff cloud has hardly helped boost employee morale. In addition to several staff lawyer positions, the SEC offers hope to third year law school students who have seen their employment offers yanked. The agency is hiring six almost-lawyers to begin work as clerks after graduation and before they pass the bar. After they pass the exam, they’ll be promoted to attorney-advisors.
For those who believe the worst day fishing is better than the best day at work, check out two openings for attorneys at the Office of the General Counsel for Fisheries (yes, that’s the real name) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is part of Commerce. NOAA employs about 95 lawyers, who work on issues such as conservation and management of U.S. and international fisheries, protection of endangered or threatened marine species, and preservation of coastal areas.
Should you have a yen to visit Guantanamo, there’s an opening at the Defense Legal Services Agency, Office of Military Commissions. You need a top secret/ sensitive compartmented information clearance (which can take a year to receive) for a job that will last no more than 18 months. One qualification – the ability to “research historical matters concerning military commissions and international criminal courts contained in the U.S. National Archives, The Hague, and other locations which archive similar international law or law of war materials.” Hmmm….
The Internal Revenue Service is hiring in its Office of Chief Counsel. The agency boasts an in-house legal staff of 1,500, rivaling D.C.’s biggest law firms. One job focuses on large and mid-sized businesses, another involves tax-exempt and government entities.
And here’s the perfect job for that suburban mom who wants to catch drug dealers and still pick the kids up from school – a part-time lawyer at the Drug Enforcement Administration. It’s a 20 to 32 hour a week position in the technology law unit. Lawyers there advise on technology-related areas, including electronic surveillance, telecommunications law, and Internet investigations.
The Department of Homeland Security, which in the past has also been plagued by high turnover rates, has several openings in Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And the Homeland Security GC’s office is hiring three lawyers in to do acquisition and procurement.
Finally, the award for best job posting of the week goes to the Environmental and Natural Resources Division at the Justice Department. In an ad for a supervisory paralegal, which pays up to $95,026 a year, the “Job Summary” begins: “Our Office is conveniently located near the Navy Memorial/Archives Metro. A wide variety of shopping venues, the Verizon Center, museums, the national mall, restaurants and coffee shops are all within walking distance. We also offer access to an onsite fitness center. The Environment and Natural Resources Division ranked number 1 out 279 Federal organizations in the 2008 Best Places to Work survey. ENRD is a great place to work.”
Little wonder, if working consists of shopping, eating out, and going to the gym.
All job listings found here.