Positions for lawyers are available in both the private, nonprofit, and public sectors. Once you decide to work in the public sector, for state or local government, you will need a resume that meets more stringent requirements than for private or nonprofit jobs, including firm deadlines for applying and details that might not be required for private sector positions.
Harvard Law School has written Careers in State and Local Government to help new lawyers narrow their choices. They advise, “If you are interested in immediate, hands-on responsibility, you should consider working in state and local government.” They also suggest applying for summer internships at the Attorney General’s office at the state level. On the local level, entry requirements can take three forms: entry-level positions are available in big city offices; smaller cities require prior legal experience, as well as local state bar admission; and some cities contract out their legal work to private law firms specializing in public sector law.
For state and local government resumes:
- Highlight any connection you have with the locality—for example, growing up there.
- Stress your interest in and commitment to public service, perhaps through volunteer positions.
- List participation in moot court competitions; summer internships in state or local governments; and similar experiences.
- List courses related to state and local government; for example, courses on urban planning or environmental issues.
- Demonstrate a strong academic career (a high GPA and relevant coursework), with stellar verbal and written communication skills, especially research skills.
- Indicate where you would like to serve; for larger states, you may need to indicate a preference for criminal, trial, child, civil enforcement, general counsel, or policy law.
- Prepare a cover letter that emphasizes your qualifications in the relevant areas above.
As a new lawyer, you need to gather as much information as possible about the specific application requirements for the state or local governments where you are applying. In smaller cities, this research may require a personal phone call or visit. In any case, your government resumes must be honed to the exact—and exacting—requirements of each government office.
I bring years of experience in government resume writing, including resumes for folks seeking federal jobs. Please contact me today.