The Offbeat Path: Regulatory Counsel

I've posted several interviews with women who have unusual jobs, so it seemed reasonable that I should post about my job.

I stumbled into my job, in a way, after graduating during the depths of the recession and fruitlessly searching for gainful employment for over a year after passing the bar. My ex-law school roommate, Rachel, had found a job in the DC area and recommended me when a job opened up at her workplace. As a side note, in my experience, connections are everything in a job market as weak as this one, which is rather depressing when you have very few connections. 

I work at a government affairs consulting firm in Arlington. Most of the firm is dedicated to following state legislative activity for clients, but there is a small and hardy band of us who follow state regulatory activities. If you took administrative law in school, you're familiar with the federal Administrative Procedure Act, notice and comment periods, and all that jazz. States obviously also have administrative agencies, and like the federal government, states have administrative procedure acts. Unfortunately for clients, and fortunately for continuing to keep me gainfully employed, the state administrative procedure acts are all different, and the exceptions to the administrative procedure acts can vary widely even within each state.

I read through state registers and look for rulemaking notices that are of relevance to our clients. Our clients include well-known pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, and health care companies. When I find something relevant, I enter it in a database for the client, tagged with the appropriate issue. The entry also includes the relevant comment deadlines and hearing dates. I then update the entry as it moves through the rulemaking process. It's important to explain the process as simply as possible, as many readers are government relations professionals, not attorneys.

Given the ever-increasing regulations at both the federal and state level, it seems likely to me that there will be an increasing need for regulatory counsels, both at private firms and in-house. Additionally, there is a related field, which is the attorneys who work for the state agencies. Almost every state agency has at least one attorney on staff who is responsible for ensuring that every rule promulgated by the agency conforms to state rulemaking procedures. After all, if it doesn't, the agency may have to begin again from scratch. So if you're interested in administrative law, I recommend looking into either a government affairs firm or a state agency.  

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