Law School Discussion

Does anyone have advice for those seeking entry level government positions?

What degree of difficulty would you all say is involved in getting a position with the government at the entry level? I do not wish to work for a law firm, especially not a large law firm, and I am planning my law school career around this rather broad personal belief. I could see myself being very happy working for some federal agency or perhaps for a local DAs office or maybe some interesting state government post.

I understand that many gov positions do not hire in advance the way that large firms do. I understand also that the pay is frequently very bad, but I am not expecting to come out with much/any debt, so that should help. What I am most interested in is the level of competition for these positions, particularly competition from fairly well credentialed people. For those of you who are applying, or have watched friends ahead of you apply, or perhaps are already working in one of these positions, what advice would you offer?

Is it particularly advantageous to be a lateral hire from some law firm? I get the impression that many law firm lawyers are rather unhappy and would like to go into something more personally meaningful with lower hours. How much does this clog the process down and/or undercut the efforts of younger, less experienced attorneys? I have heard that this is a much larger problem in the largest cities and with the most prestigious posts like the DOJ, but what about elsewhere? What if I want to be a city solicitor in portland, oregon or perhaps work in utilities regulation in las vegas? Are these types of jobs available to very young lawyers? How about very young lawyers who didn't quite graduate from the top14?

Any advice or personal experiences would be most appreciated.