WORKING IN DC

In July of 1790, the so-called Residence Bill authorized the selection of a site “not exceeding ten miles square” somewhere on the Potomac River for the establishment of the permanent capital of the United States. Thomas Jefferson, who was instrumental in achieving the passage of the Residence Bill, referred to the future Washington DC as “that Indian swamp in the wilderness.”

There are many theories as to why the capital of the new nation was placed in the middle of a swamp. A back-room deal between Jefferson and Hamilton? A necessary compromise between the Southern and Northern States? Were the wealth and cultural allure of the Northern cities considered too politically corrupting? George Washington, like all CEOs, wanted a short commute? Regardless of its rationale, the effects of this decision can be felt today.

Unlike other capital cities, such as London or Paris, Washington DC is primarily the seat of government. Although it is rich in history and national treasures, it is not a cultural or financial center of the US. Thus, compared to other capital cities, or major American cities like New York or San Francisco, it has a surprisingly small town feel. This is not to say that DC does not have great restaurants or offerings for the culture vulture; it certainly does. But it’s definitely not New York. (But on the plus side, there is no stinky trash sitting out on the streets.)

Not surprisingly, the federal government, and all those legal, lobbying and military-industrial complex businesses which depend upon it, dominates the economy. The unemployment rate is among the lowest of comparable cities in the US. Large increases in government spending, the creation of new agencies and departments, the opening of a new Convention Center, a booming commercial and residential real estate market, among other factors, have all dramatically transformed DC in the last ten years into a bustling, rapidly growing city.

Like many US cities, people are moving back into the city in large numbers. Until this recent residential real estate boom, which has increased prices by double even triple-digit percentages, DC’s small town quality has generally meant that it was comparably quite affordable. But whether this remains true is questionable. Besides the sky-rocketing prices, some mourn the loss of the old neighborhoods that comes with “gentrification” as well as the increase in the already heavy traffic.

There is a lot to be said for living and working in Washington DC, especially for an attorney. As an attorney, you are unlikely to find a city that offers the plethora of professional opportunities that DC offers. Virtually every premier US law firm has an office here, and there is the opportunity to have any kind of practice—from international public law to capital markets! DC attracts many of the country’s most accomplished attorneys precisely because professional opportunities are boundless.

Living is good here. The average Washingtonian is pleasant (except for when driving), well-educated and makes for a good neighbor. The beach is an hour and a half to the east and the hills-mountains are the same distance to the west. And best of all, by working in a DC law firm, unlike those of your classmates who work in New York or Chicago, you may actually have the time to enjoy your life outside the office.

 


  Resources

  Legal
  www.nlj.com
  www.law.com
  www.legaltimes.com

  News
  www.economist.com
  www.nytimes.com
  www.washingtonpost.com

  Noteworthy
  www.aldaily.com
  www.refdesk.com