Did you know that the federal government offers a variety of opportunities for a rewarding legal career, whether you’re a recent graduate without a law degree or a seasoned attorney with years of experience?

For example, as a legal assistant at the Department of Labor, you can conduct legal research and assist a judge in all aspects of hearings and cases. As a patent examiner for the Department of Commerce, you can handle legal questions surrounding new inventions. As the ethics attorney with the Federal Election Commission, you can ensure the agency’s ethical conduct.

Top Agencies with Employees in Legal# of Current Employees
Department of Veterans Affairs 333,264
Department of the Army 230,765
Department of the Navy 201,543
Department of Homeland Security 169,547
Department of the Airforce 158,270
Department of Justice 112,900
Department of Defense 86,662
Department of the Treasury 82,556
Department of Agriculture 74,465
Department of Health and Human Services 65,431

Percentage of Employees in Legal% of Current Employees
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission 87%
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission 84%
Merit Systems Protection Board 77%
Federal Labor Relations Authority 68%
Office Of Special Council 67%
Federal Trade Commission 59%
National Labor Relations Board 51%
Railroad Retirement Board 49%
Securities and Exchange Commission 45%
Judicial Branch 44%

Top Legal Positions# of Current Employees
General Attorney34,263
Contact Representative22,697
Veterans Claims Examining12,024
Patent Examining8,451
Legal Assistance7,195
Paralegal Specialist5,754
Claims Assistance and Examining 3,071
Hearings and Appeals2,661
Legal Instruments Examining 1,903

Top Positions by RegionPercentage
South Atlantic39.1%
Pacific West10.5%
West South Central8.5%
East North Central7.8%
West North Central5.7%
Mountain West5.9%
East South Central5.5%
Positions Overseas1.0%
Job Series Codes

You can search using keywords or the job series code, a four-digit number corresponding to a government job category. The most common legal job series codes are listed below.

0905: General Attorney

0950: Paralegal Specialist

0962: Contact Representative

0986: Legal Assistance

1222: Patent Attorney

Did You Know?

Nearly 85 percent of general attorneys in the federal government make more than $100,000/year.

There are more than 1,071 federal employees currently working in legal positions abroad.

Not all legal positions require a law degree or membership to the American Bar Association. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree or one year of specialized experience, you qualify for entry-level jobs such as a legal assistant, a contact representative or a benefits specialist.

Sample Positions

Job Title: Paralegal Specialist 
Agency: Department of the Army, Army National Guard Units
Salary Range: $60,686 to $78,889 / per year 
Location(s): Camp Mabry, TX 

As a Paralegal Specialist, you will:

  • Provide research, analysis, guidance, and support to administer courts-martial, non-judicial punishment, administrative boards and other legal actions and administrative processes.
  • Manage the SJA portion of the state/territory Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.
  • Review changes in regulations on the Freedom of Information Act and update and advise other legal personnel and field staff of changes.

Job Title: General Attorney
Agency: Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration 
Salary Range: $112,021 to $161,900 / per year
Location(s): Alexandria, VA 

As a General Attorney, you will: 

  • Serve as legal advisor on all issues related to the diversion of legally produced controlled substances and listed chemicals into illegitimate channels.
  • Review and provide legal advice on relevant legislative proposals, agency correspondence with the regulated industry, and related agency policies.
  • Review all rules and regulations affecting the legitimate handling of controlled substances and listed chemicals, and evaluate them for compliance with the requirements of federal statutes.