Virtually unknown outside Washington, Capitol Hill legislative aides and staffers often put in long hours for low pay. So why do many aspiring law students (and even JDs) flock to these positions?
They're at the White House Rose Garden when the president ceremonially signs a bill into law. They're at congressional press conferences and Senate committee hearings on judicial nominees. But they're not the ones being photographed or interviewed; if a news camera pans over them, it's usually by accident.
, legislative assistants, legislative counsel, and chiefs of staff-the staffers who work on Capitol Hill-play a key role in creating the law, putting together press conferences, and orchestrating committee hearings. But they rarely get to be in the spotlight.
Congressional staffers aren't drawn to these positions for the money, either. In 1999, legislative assistants in the House received, on average, between $33,000 and $44,000, while legislative assistants in the Senate received $48,276. Legislative counsel in the Senate received an average salary of $60,610, while their counterparts in the House received a bit less. Those who stayed on the Hill and worked their way up the hierarchy could become legislative directors, pulling down an average of $61,075 in the House and $91,438 in the Senate-but only after about a decade of service.
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