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Maximizing Your Marketability: How Government Attorneys Can Transition to Private Firms

published March 15, 2004

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 253 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
BCG Attorney Search is the nation's largest and most geographically diverse recruiting firm specializing exclusively in permanent attorney placements. They currently have more attorney openings, in more practice areas and locations, than any other legal recruiting firm.

Government attorneys possess valuable experience and knowledge that provide legal services in high demand in the private sector. Private law firms are increasingly interested in hiring these attorneys due to their expertise in handling public sector cases. Government attorneys have the necessary skills and credentials to thrive in the private sector.

Government attorneys bring invaluable experience to private firms as they are familiar with government regulations and laws. These experienced professionals have extensive training in navigating their way through bureaucratic red tape, navigating the inner workings of the government, and handling the most complex legal matters. Additionally, private firms recognize the value of the unique knowledge and experience of government attorneys in the legal industry. Government attorneys bring an understanding of complex cases, an understanding of the legislative process, and a deep understanding of the applicable legal issues.

Government attorneys also have a leg up when it comes to the private sector due to their public sector experience. These attorneys have already gained expertise in government contracts, regulatory compliance, and understanding and responding to government requests. Government attorneys are also knowledgeable about the inner workings of government agencies, for example, how to influence policy and regulatory decisions.

Government attorneys are attractive candidates for private firms as they are well versed in the legal aspects of the public sector, have built trust with regulatory bodies, and have a knowledge base that is invaluable in the private sector. Private firms often look for attorneys who have institutional knowledge, a track record of handling complex cases, and a unique understanding of the government and its organization.

Furthermore, government attorneys often have the credibility and influence to effectively represent the interests of their clients, which makes them attractive to private firms. With their knowledge of public sector issues, public affairs, and public law, government attorneys are well suited to represent the interests of individuals and organizations in the private sector.

Overall, government attorneys offer an invaluable resource to private firms. Not only are they familiar with the legal and regulatory issues in the public sector, but they also have deep knowledge of public affairs and public policy. Their understanding of law and the government make government attorneys uniquely suited to provide the legal services in demand in the private sector.

The Private Law Firm Market

Private law firms are always looking for talented attorneys to add value to their client base. Today, government attorneys are considered highly marketable in the private law firm market. This is due to a number of factors, including their strong legal backgrounds and their ability to bring a fresh set of skills to the private sector.

Strengths of Government Attorneys

Government attorneys possess a range of skills and qualifications that can contribute to the success of a private law firm. This includes a strong legal background, which gives them an edge in the private law firm market due to the fact that they have experience in handling cases from the inside and are able to provide a unique perspective on complex legal matters. Government attorneys also have the advantage of being able to apply their legal knowledge and experience in a wide range of areas, both in the public and private sectors.

Experience and Expertise

In addition to having a strong legal background, government attorneys possess a wealth of experience and expertise in their chosen field. This experience and expertise allows them to provide solutions to legal issues that a private law firm may not have considered. Government attorneys also have the ability to spot issues before they become a problem and can offer creative solutions to existing problems.

Legal Knowledge and Creativity

Government attorneys are also renowned for their legal knowledge and creativity. They are able to draw on their extensive training and experience to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to a variety of legal issues. This helps private law firms to remain competitive and to create new opportunities for their clients.

I am a fourth year criminal prosecutor. How difficult is it right now to transition from a government position to private practice?

The path from public service to private practice actually occurs quite frequently. In fact, many senior partners at law firms have had some experience as a government attorney. Some of the issues that private firms will consider are the transferability of your skills and the current public position that you hold. Many times the skills that a government attorney has acquired from experience on important cases will be the determining factor for firms to consider him or her. For example, an experienced federal prosecutor will have an easier time finding a job in a large law firm than a first-year public defender. That is not to say that only those attorneys in the loftiest government positions can transfer to the private sector, but they will certainly have an advantage in getting into the prestigious private firms.

You must consider the transferability of the skills of your current position and determine if they can be reasonably applied to a private sector job. If your current position is as a district attorney or a federal prosecutor, then the switch to a civil litigation attorney would be a sensible one. The more applicable your current job skills are to your position of consideration, obviously the more favorable your chances are of making a switch. A move such as a trial attorney in the Department of Justice, environment and natural resources division to a position in the environmental defense practice of a firm would be more likely to occur than a move from public defender in the juvenile services program to corporate law.

Aside from your legal skills, job availability in different areas of private sector law should be considered. In the last few years, positions in litigation have risen, while corporate law jobs have diminished. Litigation positions in large firms also often depend on factors such as a top-notch law school, law review involvement, and the prestige of your current job. Additionally, job availability varies based on different locations in the country. Large cities on the coasts will have more jobs available than smaller cities and may be a safer bet if you are looking to make a switch. Thus, both the area of private practice law as well as the location of your potential move should be taken into account.

Finally, before making the decision to jump, general differences between public and private sectors should be regarded. In general, a private law firm will expect more hours out of their lawyers and require more intense job evaluations. Private sector positions also do not carry the almost guaranteed job security of government jobs. Government jobs also provide many lawyers with the additional emotional satisfaction of working on important and exciting cases. Your position as a government attorney also places you with a higher chance of moving up to a higher government post, such as a judicial position or a position in a federal or state cabinet. Of course what large private firms do offer in exchange for all these benefits is a higher salary and a chance to finally own that German roadster you've been eyeing.

If you are ready to make your move, a recruiting firm will most likely be unable to help you since law firms generally require law firm experience in dealing with candidates from recruiters. However, there are many options available to you, including job boards and targeted mailing services, that could help you find your next position.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit

published March 15, 2004

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 253 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.