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State & Local Government Opportunties

State Government Opportunities

State government employment is characterized by early assignment of responsibility and interesting work. The hours required by the job are generally less than in the private sector, and the work is as varied as the opportunities within the private sector. Employment is generally secure unless an attorney is a political appointee (usually department supervisor or higher) and the benefit packages are generally comprehensive.

Numerous state agencies provide legal opportunities for law students and graduates. Agencies such as the Office of the Illinois Attorney GeneralIllinois Department of LaborIllinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission offer school-year and summer opportunities for law students, as do a host of additional state agencies. For school-year positions, it is wise to apply several months in advance of the upcoming semester. For summer positions, each agency will have its own application deadlines — it is always wise to apply sooner rather than later, and at the latest, by February or March. School-year and summer clerks are sometimes hired as permanent attorneys upon graduation.

Most State of Illinois jobs are posted on the Internet at There you can find out which positions are available, read position descriptions, and apply for openings. Vacancies are updated weekly. You may also want to visit the website of each agency in which you are interested, as agencies sometimes post positions directly on their websites. The Career Services Office also posts government volunteer and attorney positions throughout the year.

Local Government Opportunities Heading link

If you are interested in a career as a litigator, this may be the fast track. As a public defender or prosecutor, you will be given a high volume caseload immediately, and the opportunity to appear in court almost daily. Obviously, the potential to become a specialist in criminal law is high. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office hires a large number of John Marshall students as volunteers during the school-year and over the summer, as do collar county State’s Attorney’s offices. Similarly, many volunteer opportunities can be found with the Public Defender, either in Cook County or in surrounding counties. Be it on the prosecution or defense side, as a volunteer you will be afforded great responsibility. After your second year of law school, you can even obtain a 711 License and appear in court.

If you prefer civil law, there are a variety of opportunities available to you. Just to name a few, the City of Chicago Department of Law and the Chicago Transit Authority have a wide range of civil practice opportunities, as do the various area State’s Attorney’s offices. Working for any of these offices, you may draft contracts and legislation, serve as an in-house counsel for various city or county departments and defend the city or county in actions ranging from tort claims to charges of discrimination. Responsibilities increase quickly and you will be expected to litigate your own cases. Job security is high and benefits are excellent.

Entry-level salaries vary in local government. Generally, the larger the governmental agency or city, the higher the salary. Cities frequently have a residency requirement. Most local government agencies hire permanent attorneys from their pool of law clerks once bar passage is secured. Although grades are important to local government employers, performance as a law clerk and success in clinical and/or moot court programs may carry equal weight in the hiring decision.