Jump to content
Mihael

Anyone here with a law degree that works for the government?

Recommended Posts

I'm interested in working for the government, generally speaking, after getting my law degree. Are there any law school graduates here that work or worked for the government? What was your position/job and what was the salary like? Do you recommend it?

Edited by Mihael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Might I suggest a more focused question - in what capacity are you interested in working for whom? Just that as this stands, your question covers a huge range - are you interested in eg just Federal government? Provincial? Other bodies, such as agencies, administrative decision-makers, municipalities? By use of 'with a law degree' were you explicitly setting that aside from 'lawyers'? (ie, are you thinking of being a prosecutor? a land use lawyer? Someone who never articles, but uses skills from law school at work?) 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@lookingaround I am purposely being as broad as possible. I want people to discuss the long range of options with regards to government jobs and in all kinds of positions.

To narrow it down for me personally though, I am thinking of within BC and not even necessarily a lawyer (i.e. can be legal counsel for example, or other jobs that aren't necessarily legal related but can be hired for with a JD). Still broad I know. 

Edited by Mihael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am working in tax policy for the BC government. Salary is a lot lower than I would get at a firm, but work-life balance is a lot better. It seems to me for most government positions you are better off doing something other than a law degree to get in, law is an expensive path to get into government unless the position requires it. 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know a substantial number of municipal lawyers who now work in public sector management in non-law roles, i.e., CAO, general manager(s), clerks, and etc. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are tons of lawyer jobs in government, it depends on what you are looking for. There are lawyers who provide legal advice to client ministries (which is what I do), lawyers who do civil litigation, lawyers to do law/policy work, and lots of other branches I can't remember. The opportunities are endless. I also know of several lawyers, or JDs who didn't article who work in policy capacity (e.g. not as a lawyer, but as a Policy Analyst, for example). The salary is higher if you are classified as Legal Counsel. I'm in BC, and you can see the salaries here: 

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/careers-myhr/all-employees/pay-benefits/salaries/salarylookuptool

I've only ever worked for government as a lawyer so I'm biased, but I love it. The hours aren't too bad, my clients are awesome, good salary and benefits (and pension!). There's lots of opportunities to move around within government (e.g. going on Temporary Assignment). It can be a bureaucratic nightmare sometimes and we definitely don't get all the fancier perks as private sector lawyers (e.g. we had to pay for our own holiday party). 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, azure said:

I'm in BC, and you can see the salaries here

Not to derail the thread, but @azure, would you mind saying how BC's government lawyers are distributed? Mainly Victoria as the capital, mainly Vancouver as it's, well, Vancouver, or is it quite distributed?

I ask because I'm interested in government jobs and considering UVic, and would be hoping (for family reasons) to stay in the YYJ area after school. Thanks!

-GM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, GrumpyMountie said:

Not to derail the thread, but @azure, would you mind saying how BC's government lawyers are distributed? Mainly Victoria as the capital, mainly Vancouver as it's, well, Vancouver, or is it quite distributed?

I ask because I'm interested in government jobs and considering UVic, and would be hoping (for family reasons) to stay in the YYJ area after school. Thanks!

-GM

Mostly victoria because most of your client ministries are headquartered in victoria.

 

Crown counsel is going to be a different story.

Edited by kurrika
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a law degree, I work in government, I don't do legal work, I do policy work.    I like my job. 

 

I sometime look enviously at the salaries earned by LSB solicitors but then I take note of their jaundiced complexions and shaky hands.  And fire off a request for a legal opinion at 5 pm on my way out the door - if it could be ready by 10 am tomorrow that would be great, we are in a real hurry.

 

 

:P

Edited by kurrika
  • Like 5
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/14/2020 at 6:30 AM, kurrika said:

Mostly victoria because most of your client ministries are headquartered in victoria.

 

Crown counsel is going to be a different story.

Yes, this is accurate. 

Legal Services Branch is headquartered in Victoria (including the civil litigation group). We do have a Vancouver office and a few lawyers work out of there but most are in Victoria. The articling students work out of Victoria. If you are looking for policy jobs too, the vast majority are in Victoria. 

Crown Counsel (criminal law) have offices around the Province, and Victoria is one of the hardest offices to get into (due to desirability of location). 

 

On 2/14/2020 at 6:34 AM, kurrika said:

I have a law degree, I work in government, I don't do legal work, I do policy work.    I like my job. 

 

I sometime look enviously at the salaries earned by LSB solicitors but then I take note of their jaundiced complexions and shaky hands.  And fire off a request for a legal opinion at 5 pm on my way out the door - if it could be ready by 10 am tomorrow that would be great, we are in a real hurry.

 

 

:P

The most challenging thing about government clients is that they don't always understand why they need a legal opinion or see the value in legal advice (not saying this about you in particular!). Most of the time are told to get a legal opinion which really means they want someone to tell them what they are proposing is ok. But obviously things are more complicated than that. Like telling someone they have questionable legislative authority to make a specific decision when all they wanted to hear is that they could make that decision and have no legal risk. I do love my clients but sadly sometimes I feel like I'm just providing a check in the "obtain legal advice" box rather than providing a service that is actually valued. Not all the time, but sometimes. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, azure said:

Most of the time are told to get a legal opinion which really means they want someone to tell them what they are proposing is ok.

 

This is a problem I run into frequently - people show up and say they have legal opinion that says their wacky proposal is okay.  Then you ask to see the question that was posed to LSB and ask to the see the written opinion provided.

Frequently the question provided to the solicitor is poorly framed, omits important facts etc....  And then the opinion provided is being misunderstood by the person with the opinion and they are using it to support something they never asked about.

 

 

Edited by kurrika
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/7/2020 at 3:04 AM, Mal said:

I am working in tax policy for the BC government. Salary is a lot lower than I would get at a firm, but work-life balance is a lot better. It seems to me for most government positions you are better off doing something other than a law degree to get in, law is an expensive path to get into government unless the position requires it. 

 

This is very important. 
 

Being a Crown/Government lawyer is great. 
 

Working in a non-lawyer role may be the perfect fit, for some, but for law students reading this, going to law school with the intention of working in a non-lawyer capacity seems hard to justify. 
 

Given the cost of most law schools in Canada in 2020, I cannot imagine taking on law school-sized debt and then working for the scale most non-counsel government positions pay. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

This is very important. 
 

Being a Crown/Government lawyer is great. 
 

Working in a non-lawyer role may be the perfect fit, for some, but for law students reading this, going to law school with the intention of working in a non-lawyer capacity seems hard to justify. 
 

Given the cost of most law schools in Canada in 2020, I cannot imagine taking on law school-sized debt and then working for the scale most non-counsel government positions pay. 

The DND inexplicably posted a JD-advantage Policy Officer job to my law school's job portal and it got me quite excited until I saw that it paid in the mid-$50ks and didn't lead to much higher earning potential any time soon. Literally impossible to make work with law school debt for people didn't get crazy scholarships and bursaries. And I'm someone who has chosen to pursue relatively low paid legal work (and chose to go to a relatively inexpensive law school) since I care more about interest in what I'll be doing that what I'm paid, but there is still a line here dictated by financial realities.

Edited by CleanHands

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BC government positions will pay off the BC portion of your student loan (approx 1/3 typically) over 3 years, which can help.

 

Analysts in my area generally make between 80-90k.  It is a relatively high pressure / high demand job though and you would likely be paid more in the private sector for the type of work you are doing.

Edited by kurrika

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, kurrika said:

 

This is a problem I run into frequently - people show up and say they have legal opinion that says their wacky proposal is okay.  Then you ask to see the question that was posed to LSB and ask to the see the written opinion provided.

Frequently the question provided to the solicitor is poorly framed, omits important facts etc....  And then the opinion provided is being misunderstood by the person with the opinion and they are using it to support something they never asked about.

I feel like I get the opposite problem.  As a Crown I feel like when I'm asked for an opinion it's because the investigating agency is looking for a reason NOT to charge someone.  And that's usually born out by my opinions.  But when I say "no, go ahead and charge"...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...