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Need a Job? 5 Reasons to Head to D.C.

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on April 12, 2013 9:54 AM

Do you have any idea how many lawyers are hanging around D.C., not practicing at law firms? It's a lot.

In 2011, the ABA reported that 1 in 12 D.C. residents are lawyers. The national average is 1 in 260, according to the Huffington Post.

What makes D.C. a legal mecca? Is an employment pilgrimage in your future? Here are five reasons to head to D.C.

  1. Land of Opportunity. Virginia may be for lovers, but D.C. is for lawyers. Think about it. There are opportunities at think tanks, in trade groups, and as legislative aides. There are the lobbyists and the legions of government lawyers. It’s no wonder that the District has the highest concentration of lawyers in the nation. There are tons of jobs in which a law degree would arguably be useful.
  2. Hollywood for Ugly People. Former Clinton-Gore strategist Paul Begala, whom The Washington Post’s Reliable Source credits with coining the clever quip, explains that D.C. and Hollywood “both take a lot of talent and drive and discipline, but there’s also the element of lightning striking.” Feeling lucky? Ready to shake a bunch of … hands to get a job? Then the District is the place for you.
  3. The Five Year Rule. There’s a contract that you have to sign — in blood, no less — when you move to D.C. After five years, you either buy a house and commit to the city for life, or you move back home. Most people move back home, which means that there’s a constant cycle of job vacancies.
  4. Freebies. If you plan ahead, you might never have to buy groceries again. There’s always a reception to attend in D.C.; eat and drink for free, and save your salary for rent and student loans.
  5. Networking. In addition to the numerous college alumni groups, D.C. also boasts state societies which host events for displaced sons and daughters. These are your kindred spirits. Woo them, and convince them to give you a job. And when you land your dream gig, return the favor.

Of course, D.C. isn’t cheap, and those nontraditional legal jobs don’t pay especially well. You’ll have to sell your car and find a roommate (or five), but the District can be a fabulous place to pass a few years as a power player while the legal job market (hopefully) recovers.

And if you’re looking to practice law right now? Well, you can always move to South Dakota.

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