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Forget Being a Lawyer, Become a Lobbyist Instead

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on August 24, 2015 10:55 AM

Does the Donald having you itching for a career in politics? Does litigating poorly designed laws make you wish you had a hand in writing better ones? Don't worry, you don't have to become a politician in order to change the law -- working as a lobbyist can be a much more lucrative alternative. How lucrative? Eleven thousand lobbyists spent over $3 billion last year to influence the political process.

And lawyers are well situated to pursue a career as lobbyists. From their ability to understand laws, to their dedication to their clients' needs, to their sometimes questionable moral compasses, attorneys can be the influence peddlers.

Why Lawyers Make the Best Lobbyists

Sure, lobbyists are a hated profession. Their reputation is so bad that the lobbyists' own lobby dropped the word from its name. That's right, two years ago, the American League of Lobbyists, an industry group advocating for the rights of professional lobbyists, decided it would be better to be known as the Association of Government Relations Professionals. And they'd like you to know they don't just walk the halls of Congress handing out fistfuls of cash -- lobbyist also represent the interests of puppies, apples, and small town defense contractors.

But hey, if you wanted to be loved, you would have become a teacher, not a lawyer. That's why so many esquires make for great lobbyists: they know how to fight vigorously for their clients' interests, public scorn be damned. A few other characteristics make lawyers ideal lobbyists as well: the ability to read and interpret legislation chief among them, followed quickly by a willingness slog through stacks of caselaw or congressional reports. In fact, some of the most powerful K Street lobbying firms are law firms.

How to Become a Lobbyist

Of course, you don't just stumble upon a lobbying career. While knowing and working with the law is a great help, lawyers also need to be immersed in the political process. Most lobbyists will have a fair amount of experience working in the political field, as a congressional aide, employee in a federal or state agency, or as a worker on a political campaign. So if you want to get into lobbying, consider spending a month or two helping Deez Nuts to feel the Bern.

Plenty of lawyers already work as pseudo-lobbyists. Under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, people who make two or more contacts with government officials and who spend 20 percent of their work influencing legislation are required to register as lobbyists. Yet, there are only about 10,000 registered lobbyists, though Reuters reports that as many as 90,000 people are actually engaged in lobbying. They must just keep it at 19 percent of their work hours.

And just think -- that could be you!

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