Capitol Hill offers many opportunities for law students and lawyers interested in federal legislation and policy work. Positions exist in the individual House and Senate members’ personal offices; the House and Senate committees; the Leadership Offices (Majority and Minority Leaders, Speaker of the House, etc.); various Democrat and Republican Party offices; and the Executive Offices.
Committee work will generally be more focused and more high-level, both in scale and in substance. Committee staff is responsible for planning and holding hearings, drafting legislation, negotiating bill language, and navigating bills through the legislative process. Individual member staff is responsible for overseeing legislative and policy developments within their issue areas, being the member’s primary representative to outside groups in their issue area, briefing and assisting the member at various meetings and hearings, developing legislative and policy proposals, and interacting with stakeholders in the state. As a recent graduate, you will want to know what issue areas you would like to work on, which will help you narrow your focus in terms of members and Committees.
Below are brief descriptions of some of the positions recent law grads could look at on the Hill. LCs on the Senate side can be a good entry-level spot for a recent law graduate. On the House side, LAs may have less experience, and it may be possible for recent graduates to get a job as an LA on the House side. Finally, these are political positions. If you want to work for a Democratic office, it is advisable that you only apply to work for Democrats, and vice-versa for Republicans.
Legislative Correspondent (LC)
Legislative Correspondents, or LCs, are responsible for drafting letters responding to constituents on a variety of issue areas. Each office varies in the level of responsibility given to an LC, but additional responsibilities may include taking meetings with lobbyists and constituents, preparing and assisting the member at hearings, meetings, and other events, drafting memos, and other work to help support the Legislative Assistants.
Some offices have an interim position between Legislative Correspondent and Legislative Assistant. These interim positions are commonly referred to as LCs but are given a different title to indicate that they have additional responsibilities. Some offices refer to this position as Legislative Aide, Associate Legislative Assistant, or Deputy Legislative Assistant.
Legislative Assistant (LA)
LAs are the member’s primary staff person on a given issue area. LAs are responsible for handling the member’s legislative agenda, developing legislation, staffing the member at hearings and meetings, drafting memos, negotiating over legislation, and being the point of contact in an office for their issues.
These are typically very senior LAs. Counsel is a title typically given to a senior LA who has graduated law school, while Policy Advisor is a title typically given to a senior LA who has not graduated law school. However, these rules are not consistent from office to office.
Connecting with alums on the Hill is often the most effective way to find opportunities. Though some positions are posted online (see below), the majority of hiring is done through word-of-mouth and networking. There is no set timetable for hiring, and 3Ls/4Es who wish to begin their careers on the Hill should plan to apply after graduation.
- Senate Employment Bulletin (includes internship postings)
- House listserv (sign up for an email distribution)
- Hillzoo (provides job postings, broken down by political party)
- TheHill - (Capitol Hill newspaper – job postings available at http://thehill.com/resources/classifieds/employer)
- Roll Call jobs (openings both on and off the Hill)
- Leadership Library (provides biographical and contact information for individuals in both the private and public sector, including Hill staffers)
- List of Hill Offices Where Georgetown Law Students Have Recently Interned
- Working on Capitol Hill (Yale Law guide)
- Congress.org (provides nonpartisan news and information)
- House Office of the Legislative Counsel (often accepts 2L)
- Senate Office of the Legislative Counsel (often accepts 2L interns)
- Library of Congress (Law Student Internship Programs and other job opportunities)
- White House (summer and school-year internships available; deadlines typically about 4 months prior to start date)
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (summer and school-year internships available)