Career Advice

What Is the Role of a Government Lawyer? (And How to Develop Into One)

A lawyer has the option of choosing between working for a private company or a government agency after graduating from law school. Government lawyers can do a wide range of activities based on their location, rank within the government, and specialty. Finding a job that matches your skills and career objectives may be easier if you know what kinds of jobs a government lawyer can do and where to look for openings.

In this post, we go over the various tasks that the government might undertake as well as the actions you might take to apply for a job with one of its agencies.

What is the role of a government lawyer?

Any attorney who represents the government rather than a for-profit corporation is referred to as a government lawyer. The precise responsibilities of a government legal firm, therefore, rely on the department and function you select. The following are some tasks that a government lawyer might carry out:


While a lot of jobs in the legal profession require you to do some research, there are a few government jobs where the majority of the work is done by looking up legislation and prior court rulings. These government lawyers have access to past court documents and legal precedents, which they can utilize to inform their arguments in ongoing court cases. In addition, researchers may offer counsel on proposed new laws or modifications to legislators, other attorneys, and public officials.

Unjustified death

The victim’s family may file a wrongful death lawsuit against a government department when a person in a specific jurisdiction passes away in an incident that may have involved government action. This can include mishaps on public transportation, unintentional deaths from products that have received official approval, or mishaps brought on by a department failing to follow adequate health and safety laws. In these circumstances, the department may be represented by a government lawyer who will gather evidence or bargain with the prosecution.

Eminent domain

By claiming that the land serves a public purpose, the local government can acquire the property through a procedure known as eminent domain. For instance, a city may use an eminent domain declaration to seize land if it needs it to construct a new public transit train network. When this occurs, government lawyers can create the declaration, get in touch with the landowners, and arrange the ownership transfer.


Some government lawyers can contribute to the creation of new laws about the territory under their supervision, like a town, state, or nation. To assist policymakers in understanding how to develop laws, they frequently serve as counselors to them. Existing regulations may also be revised or changed by government lawyers to see if any amendments are necessary.

Public defense

Public defenders are government lawyers who work for the government and represent those who cannot afford or do not want to hire a private attorney. They can serve as government lawyers for a variety of defenses, including those in criminal cases. When the government is named as a defendant in a lawsuit, such as in a civil complaint or class action lawsuit, some public defenders could also represent the federal government.

Enforcing local laws

City-level government lawyers are frequently in charge of upholding local laws. They can determine whether violating an ordinance will result in community service or a fine. If the ordinance violation is serious enough to call for a court proceeding, these government lawyers may occasionally act as prosecutors.

How to Get a Job as a Government Lawyer

You can take the following actions to aid in your search for employment as a government lawyer:

1. Complete a Bachelor’s program.

Government lawyers are required to meet the same qualifications as private attorneys, which includes having a law degree. You must finish your Bachelor of Science degree before applying to many law schools. Psychology, political science, philosophy, criminology, and economics are a few popular disciplines for those aspiring to the legal profession.

2. Complete the LSAT

You might need to pass the Law School Admissions Test before applying to a law school (LSAT). The test is divided into six components that evaluate your verbal skills, writing, and reading comprehension abilities. The results of this exam are used by several law schools to aid in their admissions decisions.

3. Decide on a niche.

Lawyers frequently choose a specialty that enables them to concentrate on a certain area of law. Your area of expertise may influence the positions you can hold or which government agencies may wish to hire you if you want to work as a government lawyer.

4. Finish law school

You can finish a legal degree course if you’ve taken the LSAT and applied to law schools. The typical length of time to earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree is three years of full-time study, while certain institutions may also offer a 4-5 year part-time option. You might explicitly look for classes in law school that could teach you about a government job or your area of expertise.

5. Look for an internship

You can take part in an internship in a public department’s legal office while obtaining a bachelor’s or law degree. You can learn about the typical responsibilities of a government lawyer at a certain level through this internship. Additionally, you might make contacts that will be useful to you in the future if you’re looking for job openings.

6. Become bar-certified.

Try to sign up for the following bar exam when you complete your legal education. A bar exam is a test that you must pass to legally practice law in your state. It is given by the local bar organization. The bar exam varies from state to state, but they typically span two days and are offered twice annually, in February and in July.

7. Examine government agencies

When you pass the bar exam and receive your full legal license, you can start looking into prospective government agencies that need lawyers in your area of expertise. Typically, hiring choices are made by each department independently of the federal government. Finding out more information about their department could assist you in better comprehending how to make a strong application because they can have particular demands or specifications that they need candidates to meet.

8. Apply for a post as a government lawyer

You can apply once you’ve decided which departments you wish to apply to. On a government employment website, you might locate a lot of open vacancies. You could also want to look for position descriptions and applications on a small government department’s website if you’re seeking employment there.

22 other Legal Topics to Examine (Including obligations and descriptions)

If you want to become a government lawyer or another legal professional, you have numerous possibilities depending on the kinds of cases and clients you want to work with. For legal practitioners to excel in any of these fields, they each require certain knowledge and skill sets. You can choose a specialty for your legal profession by being knowledgeable about the many fields you can work in.

22 common legal careers

If you desire to work in the legal industry, these specialist fields of law are worth your consideration:

1. The bankruptcy law

Attorneys that specialize in bankruptcy law act as advocates for debtors who have accrued debt or creditors, or those to whom debtors owe money. If a person is unable to pay their obligation, they may apply for bankruptcy. Outside of the courtroom, bankruptcy attorneys frequently devote significant amounts of time to writing motions and scrutinizing financial records. You can succeed in this sector if you have a solid understanding of stocks, tax laws, contracts, and consumer lending.

2. Corporate law

Corporate law is a vast field that focuses on legal matters that have an impact on corporations. This area of expertise focuses mostly on structuring, managing, and terminating corporate transactions, including acquisitions, mergers, and various company models. Corporate attorneys frequently work directly for businesses or bigger law firms. Individuals interested in this field of law may be better qualified for positions if they are familiar with employment, contracts, bankruptcy, and taxation policies.

3. Labor and employment laws

The legal challenges that affect employees and employers are the primary emphasis of this sector of the law. One or more of the groups that people in this field may represent includes candidates for employment, businesses, unions, government agencies, and government employees. They frequently address several issues, such as:

  • Discrimination based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or handicap
  • Sexual assault
  • Occupational safety
  • Unionization rights
  • Governing child labor
  • Unlawful dismissals
  • Wage disagreements

Let’s say you want to work in this industry. If so, you can get ready for your profession by enrolling in courses on labor law, such as those on social justice, company law, public law, and employment laws.

4. Family law and juvenile justice

Marriage contracts, divorce, domestic violence, child support, adoption, and child welfare processes all fall under the umbrella of family law, which focuses on the interactions between individuals and their families. Drafting custodial contracts and protective orders for social services organizations, calculating and setting up court-ordered child maintenance, and setting up the immigration procedure for international adoptions are all possible tasks in this line of work. Several family lawyers operate their businesses or are employed by smaller law firms. You could find it useful to know about child custody, divorce, mediation, and conflict resolution for a job in this profession.

5. Immigration legislation

This field of law often has to do with people moving across borders and getting citizenship. Immigration attorneys frequently work for government institutions, nonprofits, or private law companies that focus on immigration. Because it enables them to connect with clients, compile deportation papers, coordinate required citizenship or immigration documents, and do research and get foreign documentation, bilingualism is frequently useful in this sector.

6. The law of intellectual property

Legal ownership of innovations or other creative content is safeguarded by intellectual property law for both individuals and businesses. Several subcategories fall under this legal category:

  • Patent law: This oversees the discovery and invention of new things.
  • Trademark law: Trademark law concerns trademark names and logos.
  • Copyright law: This discipline regulates literary, musical, and visual works.

Many patent attorneys have technical or scientific backgrounds due to the requirement for technical expertise. People in this sector frequently offer advice to clients who feel that their intellectual property has been exploited without the required copyrights, or clients may engage them to assist them in using intellectual property or trademarks that belong to a business.

7. The law of personal harm

Personal injury law concentrates on legal matters where people assert they suffered psychological or physical harm as a result of the deliberate actions or negligence of a subject matter or another individual. Cases involving industrial injuries, wrongful deaths, product liability, auto accidents, or medical malpractice are frequent assignments for those in this sector. Legal advice, preparation, and filing of legal complaints, as well as client representation, are all services offered by personal injury attorneys. Before you start a career in this field, think about learning about tort law, which concentrates on behaviors that, while unpleasant, aren’t necessarily criminal.

8. Animal law

The defense of animals or those in charge of them falls under this category of lay. You can operate as an animal rights attorney for a law office or an animal rights group within this area of the law. This activity frequently entails defending activists or combating those who abuse or take advantage of animals. This frequently involves defending endangered species and drawing attention to cruel animal activities. In addition to legal studies, biology, and zoology courses can give you the fundamental information you need to be successful in this position.

9. Banking and financial regulation

Banks, lending organizations, and other financial service providers are the main subjects of banking and finance law. If you decide to work in this industry, you can become an in-house lawyer for a bank, credit union, or law firm that specializes in banking and finance. Typical job responsibilities can include giving clients advice on payment services, data protection, and regulatory or lending compliance. Lawyers may represent banks and other financial institutions in disputes involving contracts, customer compliance, and other financial services.

10. Civil rights law

The balance between governmental authority and individual liberties is at the center of civil rights law. Some attorneys only practice in this area, whereas others practice in other areas and occasionally take on civil rights issues for free as a means of giving back. Full-time civil rights attorneys frequently work for large legal firms, public interest legal firms, or nonprofit groups. Cases could involve voting rights, police brutality, housing discrimination, or violations of one’s first amendment or religious freedom.

11. Constitutional law

Cases involving the interpretation, application, or amendment of the US Constitution are the main focus of constitutional law. The highest accomplishment for many persons in this profession is to present a the Supreme Court with a case. Lawyers can work for law firms or in private practice. Meeting with the individuals they represent and arguing rights-related cases in court are among these attorneys’ most frequent responsibilities.

12. Criminal law

Criminal law has to do with core legal principles and individual personal liberty. Both prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys work in this area. Those suspected of having committed a crime are represented by criminal defense lawyers, whereas the state or the federal government is represented by prosecutors and district attorneys. Regardless of their position, those working in this field of law deal with issues involving fundamental freedoms and rights, including any actions that might be considered crimes under state or local law.

13. Education law

Education law is generally concerned with legislation governing educational institutions and school systems. Many education attorneys defend parents of kids who are suing a school district or an institution. This specialty’s common focus areas include special education legislation, student conduct, educational policy, tuition theft, personnel concerns, and student residency. They might protect pupils with special needs who are being treated unfairly by a school, or they might assist regional organizations in formulating educational regulations.

14. The elder law

Elder law is concerned with safeguarding the rights of frail older individuals throughout the design or execution of their estate plans or guardianship transitions. These attorneys frequently deal with Medicare, Medicaid, job discrimination, and healthcare issues.

These attorneys might also represent senior citizens who are struggling with impairments or other issues for nonprofit organizations. They frequently make an effort to prevent rights abuses or victimization of their clients depending on their age or psychological condition.

15. Entertainment laws

The area of entertainment law is primarily concerned with the royalties and copyrights granted in sports, films, music, television, and other kinds of art. Due to the wide variations across various sectors, lawyers in this field frequently differentiate themselves as authorities in one particular area.

To better grasp problems with social media or other internet forums, entertainment lawyers frequently stay up to date on the most recent technological developments. In addition, they might assist in cases of unfair dismissal or contract issues.

16. Natural resource and environmental law

Environmental law focuses on international, federal, state, and local statutes, agreements, rules, and regulations that deal with protecting and regulating the environment. People who practice this type of law frequently work for private persons, advocacy groups, or governmental entities. A lawyer who specializes in environmental law may take on disputes involving mining, deforestation, pollution, and the condition of the air and water.

17. Health laws

Legislation about health care is the main topic of the health law. Health law frequently changes at a similar rate to how swiftly the healthcare business does. In their practice areas, lawyers in the healthcare industry may represent patients, academic institutions, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and insurance firms as well as healthcare providers. The federal government also employs health attorneys to oversee the creation, application, and implementation of healthcare laws.

18. International law

There are both governmental and commercial sectors involved in the vast field of international law. International attorneys who practice in the public sector frequently handle matters involving different countries, foreign public interest groups, or other international bodies. International lawyers in the private sector frequently collaborate with banks, telecommunications companies, or other law firms since they work in the trade and finance departments of huge enterprises. Working in international law frequently requires the use of numerous languages.

19. Military law

Military law, sometimes referred to as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, is a branch of the law that concentrates on the rules and regulations that apply to the armed forces. They frequently collaborate on civil and criminal matters with members of any branch of the US military. Otherwise, their fundamental tasks and roles are very similar to those of civil lawyers. Most individuals in this profession are Judge Advocate General’s Corps personnel in the Army.

20. Municipal law

Cities, counties, and other local governments are only subject to municipal legislation. Municipal governments control police authority, zoning, education programs, and property taxes. In cases involving zoning, education, law enforcement, and property taxes, municipalities frequently employ these lawyers to represent the governing body. They also handle legal matters involving small businesses, real estate, and land use. To be successful in this line of work, you must have a thorough awareness of the laws and ordinances that apply in the city where you operate.

21. Real estate law

The main areas of real estate law are land or building ownership, development, litigation, tenant rights, and landlord disputes. Real estate attorneys may examine contracts, work in development and other government facilities, or handle commercial or residential transactions. Lawyers in this area frequently have a variety of specializations, with some focusing largely on litigation while others handling real estate-related contractual issues. Land ownership, real estate development, property sales, and adherence to government rules are a few topics that come up frequently in this area.

22. Tax law

Lawyers in this field typically assist clients in lowering their tax obligations. Others make sure that people abide by national, regional, state, and municipal laws. You might represent individuals, corporations, or businesses as a lawyer in this area. This task may involve assisting your customer in comprehending tax laws or offering advice if they filed their taxes in a way that was against the law. To succeed in this industry, keeping an eye on developments in fiscal policy and governmental legislation is frequently crucial to helping customers receive the right advice.


You have the choice to apply for several legal positions outside of the government if you have a J.D. and a state license. For instance, you might decide to work as an attorney for businesses that want advice on legal issues about contracts, taxes, and patents. You can also think about using your legal knowledge in a niche business or profession that interests you. These specialized legal fields include, among others, family law, tax law, and intellectual property law. Your training and skills may also be able to help you land a job as a professor at a law school or a legal recruiter.

Frequently Asked Questions on government lawyers

  • What is the function of a government lawyer for the local government?

Lawyers licensed to practice in local government representation and counsel council staff on legal matters. More than 3,000 certified lawyers work with local government. Local government lawyers are in charge of guiding council personnel in the legal drafting of policies and long-term planning.

  • Who is the leading federal prosecutor?

On March 11, 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland took the oath of office to become the 86th Attorney General of the United States. Attorney General Garland oversees the 115,000 personnel of the Justice Department who work throughout the U. S. and in over 50 other nations as the country’s top law enforcement official.

  • What are the responsibilities and duties of a lawyer?

Lawyers adapt the law to particular situations. They consult with their clients, study papers, and conduct research into the evidence and the facts before drafting and submitting pleadings in court. They present evidence, question witnesses, and engage in legal and factual debate during the trial.

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