Government lawyers, as their name suggests, perform legal practice and assistance for the government. They are attorneys, barristers, or solicitors who represent and provide legal counsel to administrative ministers, staff, and departments.
One can find government lawyers at different levels of government. They resolve legal issues that affect the government’s offices, services, and agencies. Because of this, they look for competent law graduates. These bodies also provide graduate programs to attorneys who want to work for the government.
In Australia, for example, government lawyers work for the prime minister, the cabinet, the diplomats, and the state officials. They also serve the state’s public prosecutions directors and solicitors.
In this article, you will learn what government lawyers do.
Government lawyers work based on where they practice. For example, a local government lawyer assists politicians and handles criminal cases. Meanwhile, a state attorney drafts policies, legislation, and reviews.
The careers of government lawyers can have far-reaching consequences in society. They can fight for public causes, argue about the constitutionality of a law, or expose corruption in their agencies. The counsel of government lawyers can eventually impact the livelihood and future of many people.
Because of this, government lawyers strive to remain intelligent. They continuously study the nation’s constitution and the agencies’ policies. Aside from these, attorneys in this career also review laws on administration, citizens’ rights, and other relevant legislation.
This expansive knowledge allows them to work in different departments. These include regulatory bodies for the police, immigration, aged care, or health practitioners. Because of this, government lawyers have a vast network of colleagues, authorities, and clients.
In general, government lawyers do the following:
- They provide legal advice and voice opinions to government officials. The topics include environmental policies, tax regulations, discrimination laws, legal business issues, and criminal justice.
- They help legislators prepare for debates and hearings. Government lawyers also assist them in creating bills.
- They draft and outline legal recommendations.
- Government lawyers, like other attorneys, handle lawsuits and litigations. They also defend and prosecute. But these lawyers focus on cases related to the government and its officials.
- They represent Australia in legal courts. Those who are in the upper levels of government represent the country in international conferences and meetings.
- Government lawyers can also provide pro bono work and legal charity to those in need.
- They also assist agencies and departments in formulating policies and ordinances.
- They read the law, review legislative changes, and publish articles about legal issues. They also practice their communication and persuasive skills.
- Many government lawyers pursue other specialties to maximize their careers. Hence, they enter law schools and institutions after they graduate.
- Government lawyers collaborate among themselves, especially if they share similar causes and advocacies. These lawyers exchange policy ideas, resources, and drafts. So they are not as competitive compared to private firms and other areas of legal practice.
- Government lawyers can also help civilians outside the government. They can refer public defenders to those who cannot afford private lawyers. This way, they can receive a fair trial and legal representation.
Since they work for politicians, bureaucrats, and legislators, government lawyers might become controversial. Their counsel can trigger or incite people. The media and the online community might even attack them personally.
However, government lawyers cannot respond to those charges nor speak against the authorities. They must respect their job’s confidentiality and remain loyal to those they serve. Nonetheless, they can answer public criticism if they have the permission of the government.
While aspiring lawyers are still in law school, they can apply for internships. The Australian Law Reform Commission, for example, provides internship programs for those who want to work for the government.
New graduates and certified lawyers can take the government agencies’ admission programs. If you are one of them, you should be alert. These only open at fixed times annually. So regularly visit the official websites of the Australian government and the Australian Public Service.
Because many attorneys want to apply, admission can be competitive. Applicants must prepare a letter and a psychological test. They will also go through a series of examinations and interviews.
Becoming a government lawyer is intensely challenging. To finish law school and get accepted by the government, you must have the following traits:
- Intelligence and mental discipline;
- Readiness to train and study for more years;
- Dedication to serve your fellowmen and help the government;
- The capacity to quickly comprehend and analyze information;
- The willpower to work for many hours with tight deadlines;
- The flexibility to practice in different fields and offices as needed;
- The ability to bear great responsibility while facing pressure;
- Excellent writing and oratory skills.
If you want to someday work as a government lawyer, you can prepare now:
- Start practicing your skills in persuasive speaking and writing.
- Strive for high grades and excellent academic standing.
- Participate in debates and speech competitions.
- Read and stay updated on laws and the legal industry.
- Try working for lawyers or government agencies. Ask for tips related to their careers.
The primary advantage of becoming a government lawyer is a lenient work schedule. You do not have to sacrifice much of your time for the government. Government lawyers can also choose which project or case to work on during the day.
Furthermore, working for the government can bring in high-level contracts and responsibilities even for new entries. The longer a government lawyer stays in his career, they can save for a satisfying retirement, among other benefits.
These advantages government lawyers enjoy come at a price—they earn less than their colleagues in other sectors. On average, government lawyers receive $106,445 annually.
However, these attorneys have a suitable working area and stable job security. The government also provides opportunities and provisions for the lawyers working for them.
Those who want to earn higher can consider entering firms and private practice.