Law School Discussion

Con law prospects

Con law prospects
« on: January 15, 2008, 07:43:09 AM »
I am a 0L looking for some advice.  I'm extremely interested in many aspects of constitutional law: federalism, separation of powers, bill of rights, etc.

Are there any top firms that actually have work available in those types of fields, or am I destined to work in government?  If I must work in government, what types of steps should I take to get to a career that involves those fields?


Re: Con law prospects
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2008, 03:12:17 PM »
Any takers? 

Re: Con law prospects
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2008, 03:21:24 PM »
Become an ACLU lawyer, most "regular" lawyers don't deal with Constitutional issues.

Re: Con law prospects
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2008, 05:14:30 PM »
From my understanding, bill of rights work is pretty different from federalism/separation of powers work.  For the former, the ACLU or a comparable organization, or even a public defender's office (rights 4-8 involve primarily criminal defendant rights) is probably the way to go.  You could also look at firms that really emphasize pro bono (see this list:; you might need free registration to access it, but it's a great site so you should take the time); many of them get the more interesting criminal cases for you to work on in moments scattered amidst document review.  Also, some firms specializing in media law may get some first amendment-related work.

For the latter, however, you might look towards representing heavily regulated industry--federalism and separation of powers issues, in the cases I've read for administrative and constitutional law, often come from conflict between state & federal law, and conflicts between executive and legislative power.  Of course, con law will probably be only a smattering of your work.

I think the ultimate con law experience would be working with the solicitor general's office handling the U.S. position in Supreme Court cases.  But these jobs are, shall we say, fairly competitive, and of course don't pay like private practice.

I'm by no means an expert on this subject, just a 2L, but I've thought about it a fair amount myself, and would love to hear from somebody with more real-world experience.

EDIT: Included link

Re: Con law prospects
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2008, 11:07:23 AM »
Keep in mind, that unless you become a public defender (which is rather depressing since you spend most of your time defending guilty people and losing or pleading out), the sort of practice you describe is very glamorous.  There are hordes of idealistic incoming law school students who want to do the same kind of work as you, and most of them won't get the chance.  Wait until you've actually taken Con Law to see if you actually like it before making up your mind about this - you'll be surprised at how many issues that don't get a lot of attention in legal dramas dominate the subject.  I'm not saying you can't do it, but I think you need to be prepared for the fact that the competition for this sort of work is going to be harder than you expect.

I agree with everything Alamo79.  If you're willing to settle for this sort of thing being an occasional part of your practice, look at firms famous that do a lot of pro bono projects.  If you work for such a firm, you'll have opportunities to do idealistic constitutional law work from time to time, but it almost certainly won't be the main part of your practice.


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Re: Con law prospects
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2008, 12:34:44 PM »
The above two are correct.  There are two ways to do con law stuff.  The first is to crush it in law school, get a great clerkship, and then go into either DOJ/SG office or go to one of the big DC firms that have devoted appellate shops.  The other is to work either public defender or nonprofit - and even then, there are enough idealistic do-gooders out there that do great in law school but are still willing to work for peanuts just to fight the good fight that you'll still have to kill it to do this kind of work.