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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Career choices

James Mugo posted the question below as a comment on another thread - and I have turned it into the first post on a new thread so as to make it easier for people to find and join in.

Daniel


Need Help!

I am torn between training as a solicitor or legislative drafter.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Thanks.

James Mugo
30 November 2010 17:19

11 comments:

  1. James

    1. This is a very interesting question and I hope other people will contribute their own answers: mine is unlikely to be representative of anything other than my own experience and personality.

    2. The most important thing to say is that legislative drafting is one of the many activities that is fascinating and absorbing if it happens to excite you, and otherwise the mere thought of it is deadly dull. If you are an incurable pedant who is fascinated by the way in which language is used, and who regards spending a day moeving a comma from one end of the screen to the other and back again to see where it looks best as a day well spent, then legislative drafting is for you: if not, not.

    3. Job satisfaction: there is considerable potential in legislative drafting for feeling that one is making the world a better place. So long as the policy one is implementing is not dishonest, improper or clearly lunatic, the enterprise of expressing it clearly and simply makes the law more effective than it otherwise would be, and therefore helps people. Not as directly a people-helping job as medicine, but almost certainly as good or better on that score than most solicitors (some of whom do a lot of good, some of whom do neither harm nor good, and some of whom do a considerable amount of harm).

    4. In terms of intellectual challenge, drafting legislation never fails to be difficult and each set of instructions poses its own points of interest. However trivial or tedious the subject-matter is, the process of legislating on it is fascinating, if it fascinates you. Some solicitors do jobs that are continually challenging and exciting; but I gather that many do not.

    5. Public service used to be easy to compare with private practice, at least in the United Kingdom. The pay was lower - but not always vastly so - but the pension and benefits were impressive and there was security and a good work-life balance. All those advantages have been very conisderably eroded over the last relatively few years, and that would be my strongest reason for counselling caution for someone contemplating a career as a legislative drafter. It might be wise to begin a private-sector career, and consider moving to the public sector after a few years, having acquired skills that will give you a safety-net should you wish to return to private practice. Most of the recent recruits to the UK Parliamentary Counsel Office have had some kind of private-sector experience first, and it often makes people more efective at their drafting job.

    6. These are just a few thoughts to get the ball rolling.

    Daniel

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Daniel,

    Thank you for your contribution.

    That will help me to make a decision.

    Thanks.

    James Mugo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, I am a trained lawyer who fell into legislative drafting by chance. And got so absorbed by it that I changed specialty really... Drafting is at the core of legal science, it requires a lot of study and continuous professional development, and it demands time and dedication. From the point of view of drafting as a field of law, I would not change it for the world. As an academic discipline, it is now beginning to flourish, and so one can be at the very edge of the field. Well, it has certainly won me over!

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  4. I started as a barrister in private practice for a few years and then moved into drafting.
    I think that a private practice background is useful as a prelude to a drafting career. This is not due to the financial reasons raised by Daniel, but I think it makes you a more rounded lawyer and a better drafter. It is good to represent a few battered women before drafting legislation on domestic violence. It is good to see the law in practice before putting the law down on a page.
    Having said all that, I find drafting to be a great career and much prefer it to working as a barrister or solicitor.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have not checked the latest edition, but when I was an undergraduate many years ago, Glanville Williams in his book, Learning the Law, said that the position of Parliamentary draftsman was the highest office a lawyer could aspire to.

    And I think he is right, so, please, my fellow lawyers who are engaged in the drafting of legislation, do not underestimate the importance and the privilege of your work!

    I salute you all!


    kh

    ReplyDelete
  6. Getting a technical skill is much beneficial for students as now a days a person who have some technical knowledge will not fail. But you have to consult someone for professional resume writing who could write such a resume that creates good impact on your employer.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I trained as a solicitor and went on to do legislative drafting, then returned to a private firm.

    Legislative drafters simply draft the policy of the elected government. Yes, that is all they do. Look into it.

    If you want to make a difference, work in government policy. If you want to make global changes and be at the battle lines of legal precedent, be a solicitor in a private firm. If you want a comfortable existence but still do something worthwhile with your law degree, practice as an in-house counsel.

    You sound like a reasonably intelligent person - don't waste it in legislation. You may always do drafting as a later career but it will be difficult to go the other way if you start of in public service. Best of luck to you.

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  8. James,

    Try both and see how you like it. I echo the views of others here in that if you practise as a solicitor (applying the law to practical situations and problems) you will be equipped to be a better drafter. I practised as a lawyer in government applying legislation that someone else drafted and ended up scractching my head half the time, trying to figure out what the drafters meant, so decided I would do a much better job drafting it myself !

    As to boredom - it's what you make of it. I travelled the world and lived in 7 different countries in 11 years as a legislative drafter, lawyer and consultant and can honestly say I enjoyed the work and lifestyle immensely. Overseas in smaller (and often poorer) countries, you are not confined to pure drafting and have to craft policy, and as someone else said, policy-making is much more interesting than pure drafting.

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  9. Being a recent graduate from law school and awaiting admission to the bar... I have battled with this question for a while now. I'm glad to have bumped into this blogspot. The opinions on here has been very helpful. I don't know about starting in the private sector.. But legislative drafting really excites me. Maybe with a little more experience I will get clarity and make a decision on the whole issue.

    Thanks for raising the question James.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Being a recent graduate from law school and awaiting admission to the bar... I have battled with this question for a while now. I'm glad to have bumped into this blogspot. The opinions on here has been very helpful. I don't know about starting in the private sector.. But legislative drafting really excites me. Maybe with a little more experience I will get clarity and make a decision on the whole issue.

    Thanks for raising the question James.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My first job in law was as a legislative drafter and I think that was an unfortunate choice. I always felt somehow lacking never having seen the law in action from a practice perspective.

    If I had it to do over, I'd go into private practice first, or at least an advisory role in public law, then shift into drafting.

    But you're not drafting the policy of the elected government - you're converting that policy into actual law that has to stand the test of time. That's no small task and nothing to thumb your nose at. But it's not for everyone. It also tends to attract OCD-types and that can be very challenging from a work-environment perspective, especially if you have to work in teams.

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