McGeorge School of Law

Pathways | Capital Lawyering (Law & Policy)

Capitol building

Once considered an "alternative career," capital lawyering has developed into a rich practice area, which includes lobbying, legislative lawyering, and political practice. More and more often, lawyers are hired for positions in the Capital, both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., because their legal education gives them the ability to understand and interpret the laws being considered by legislative chambers, city councils, or various administrative agencies.

Capital lawyers may work in the offices of local, state or federal representatives, senators, and legislative committees, as well as for governors, mayors, city council members and more. Attorneys who work directly with lawmakers draft and initiate legislation, participate in committee hearings, and assist in the passage, or defeat, of particular bills. The issues they work on range from labor relations, environmental issues, healthcare regulation to tax laws. Capital lawyers may also represent corporations, trade associations or professional associations. They track legislation that may affect their clients' industry and advise leaders of the corporations and associations of the effects of the legislation. Many of them also work for special interest groups, such as the American Association of Retired Persons or the Sierra Club.

Regardless of where they work, it is rare for a capital lawyer to spend a great deal of time in their own office. Their days are generally spent in various meetings with stakeholders, business lunches with legislators and legislative staffers, or in committee hearings. When they do get time in their office, much of it is spent on the phone with their clients, advising them of the latest legislation and how it will affect their interests. Many capital lawyers find great satisfaction in the strong relationships they build with their clients and the other people they come across in their practice. Because the issues they work on vary so much, it is rare for a capital lawyer to have a "typical day," and many find the variety in their work to be incredibly satisfying. There is also a sense of public service and duty that comes with being a capital lawyer. Many who practice in the capital are able to witness the direct effects of their work. Whether they were successful in passing or defeating a bill, or in getting a certain individual elected, the role that capital lawyers play generally effects a greater population, which is never too far from their minds.

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