Jobs in state and local government can be fulfilling legal careers that provide both a competitive salary and a great work-life balance, speakers told students at a recent talk at Notre Dame Law School as part of Public Interest Month. They encouraged students to not overlook these opportunities even if they have not thought of them as options, or know much about them.
“Don’t shut the door on an opportunity just because it might not be exactly what you want to do,” said Anne McKeon, ’15 J.D., legal and policy advisor to Commissioner Sherina Maye Edwards at the Illinois Commerce Commission.
McKeon interned at the ICC during her 2L summer and said she really liked the energy and utility sector work and wanted to pursue a government job in that area. She kept in close contact with the commissioner and did additional networking to make job contacts. McKeon found out about her current position because of those connections.
Her main responsibilities at the ICC are advising her commissioner on the legal implications regarding the cases she is voting on, speech writing, and researching and understanding energy trends, she said.
Melissa Green, interim director for human resources at the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, also stressed the importance of summer internships and clerkships to help land a job in state and local government.
The Indiana AG Office has 50 to 75 law clerks throughout the year in nine different legal divisions handling every appeal for the state of Indiana. Clerks get real court experience and exposure and many are then hired on as attorneys at the office after law school, Green said.
“Internships are important to learn what you want to do and what you don’t want to do,” Green said.
Alexandra Iorio, 3L, spoke about her experience interning at two different public school systems — in Chicago and the District of Columbia. Iorio gained trial experience and worked on labor-relations cases during her 1L summer at Chicago Public Schools in the Office of Labor Relations.
She experienced other areas of the law, including special education, labor and employment, and contract law, during her 2L summer at the District of Columbia Public Schools, she said.
“Working for a school district was very valuable. I was able to meet many different lawyers and be part of very impactful work,” Iorio said.