Serve the Public Good
Are you driven to improve your community? You’re not alone.
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the amount of people who work in areas of Law + Government. Over 22 million people, or 16.7% of the U.S. workforce, work in federal, state, and local governments, over 1.3 million lawyers practice within the United States, and close to 300,000 individuals work as paralegals or legal assistants.
With so many people working together to build society at its core, opportunities are prime for Gauchos looking to make a difference. Careers in Law + Government share some similarities and a few key differences--learn how you can join the movement of public servants and prepare yourself for a successful future.
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Discover Options: Law + Government
For complete information on assessing yourself, choosing majors, and exploring careers, review our starter tips to Discover Options in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.
Careers in Law
A career path in law doesn’t necessarily mean going to law school. Within law there are a number of positions to consider, including lawyers, paralegals, forensic experts, and court reporters. To learn more about all the ways in which one might get involved in the legal field, check out the Vault Guide to Law Jobs, and the Vault Guide to Criminal Justice Jobs.
For those specifically considering being a lawyer, although it isn’t necessary to determine which issue you plan to represent, it is helpful to explore a variety of practice areas before applying to law school. Check out the entire range of Vault Law Guides that provide great detail about the variety of law practice areas and how to find success.
Careers in Government
The government sector is home to many different types of jobs with various tasks associated with each one. In fact, the federal government developed 22 groups, or job families, that represent approximately 3,500 California government job classifications via Cal Careers. To get started with the breadth of areas in which to work, take a look at the Vault Guide to Government Jobs and the Vault Guide to Government Agency Career, which highlight a number of individual positions and agencies available at the federal level, with information about the work conducted, how to get experience, and how to apply. Many of these positions are also available at the state and local level.
You may be drawn to a government position because of the stability it offers. Others are drawn to the government because they wish to make political or social change and support their community. There are a large number of job titles within politics that you can explore including Foreign Service Officers, Intelligence Officers, Campaign Workers, among many more. To learn more about getting involved in serving your community through a political lense, take a look at the Vault Guide to Politics, Public Policy, & Activism Jobs, in addition to the guides above.
The fields of law and government are versatile in terms of what major and minor you choose.
- Interested in law? There are no specific major prerequisites, however, finding ways to boost critical thinking, reading, and writing skills are highly suggested.
- Interested in working in the government sector, but not necessarily working in politics? Choose a major/minor that relates to your specific career goals. Maybe you wish to work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a scientist? Choosing a major of Environmental Studies or Biology might be a good start. Maybe you would like to do public relations for a local government entity? Choose a major that gives you strong communication and writing skills, such as something in the social sciences or humanities.
- Interested in working in politics? Any major at UCSB will help you find success, however political science might be of most interest to you as you create your career goals.
Adding a minor to your major can be a great way to boost your education and give you additional knowledge limited by your major without a lot of commitment. UCSB minors that relate well to students interested in law and government might include:
- Professional Writing
- Women, Culture, & Development
- Labor Studies
- Poverty, Inequality, and Social Justice
After narrowing down your interests for careers in Law + Government, talk with alumni and professionals in your fields of interest to gain a deeper understanding of what the position and industry is like day-to-day. The more people you speak with, the more you will discover how different everyone’s career path is, and how the field has changed over time. Connecting with alumni and professionals will also grow your network to utilize when searching for experiences in the future.
Review our tips to learn how to Do Informational Interviews as you reach out to professionals in success and style.