The Difficulties of Acquiring a Legal Job with the CIA

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Dear Lawcrossing,

Everybody, including you, always talks about net-working this, networking that. I have always wanted to work for the CIA. Now that I am in law school, it's time for me to seriously start my campaign. But how do I network my way in when I can't even find out who works there? Stumped,

EJ, Missouri


At the outset LawCrossing would like to compliment you on your outstanding career choice, EJ. Lawyers love working at the CIA. There's huge variety and LawCrossing understands that if you want to get into-ahem-non-lawyer work at the CIA,
you periodically have that opportunity. And incidentally, the CIA has a very interesting web page, at www.odci.gov/cia/. There's even a kiddie page. It's well worth a visit even if you have no intention of CIA-ing it after school.

So! Your question, EJ. I'm hunching that you think you've flummoxed LawCrossing, and for people who aren't familiar with breaking into the CIA-LawCrossing is speaking metaphorically, of course-here, in a nutshell, is EJ's problem. The CIA does not make public who its employees are. And so your traditional sources of making contact-namely, going to your alumni services director at school and asking, "Do we have any graduates at the CIA?" won't work. All right, all right, LawCrossing acknowledges that this is a problem. But it doesn't mean that you can't find people at the CIA via any means. What you want to do is hack your way into ... Just kidding.

LawCrossing spoke with lawyers at the CIA, and posed them your question. They had this advice for you, EJ:

"For informal contact with the CIA, there are several methods you might try. The most obvious is to ask everybody you know whether they know anybody who works for the CIA. All of us are frequently contacted by children of friends of friends who want to know about working for the CIA, and we always talk with them. You'd be surprised how many people get to us that way. Another possibility is to keep an eye on speakers who come to your school. The CIA regularly sends out people to talk on law school campuses, and at job fairs." One option would be to contact the CIA's public affairs department to find out where, and when, they will have attorneys visiting law schools. If they will be anywhere in your vicinity, EJ, it would be worth making a phone call to the career services director at the host school and asking whether you can attend. LawCrossing assures you that career services directors respond very well to enthusiasm, and so you will undoubtedly be invited to attend. And when you go, LawCrossing need scarcely mention that you should be sure to hang around afterwards and chat with the speaker in person. LawCrossing can attest from her own vast experi-ence visiting law schools that the one element that makes such visits most worthwhile is talking with law students afterwards. And incidentally, as is true with every job in the uni-verse, it is very worthwhile having somebody on the inside pulling for you, even if it is simply a matter of your new-found contact walking over to the person who hires summer clerks or new attorneys and saying, "I met this guy when I spoke at his school, and I think we ought to bring him in for an interview." That's a real boost- and would vault you out of the stack of applications in the in-box.

So while "networking"-ugh, LawCrossing hates that word-through alums or published directories isn't a possibility, there are a number of ways to make the contacts you desire, EJ. LawCrossing is confident that you will be outfitted with a shoe phone and magic decoder ring before you know it.

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