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Weighing the Pros, Cons of an Attorney Running for Public Office

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on October 22, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Being an attorney opens doors to many things but one of the most common career moves is to go into politics and run for public office. Even if you want to stay in the practice of law, attorney generals, city or state public defenders, and even some judges are elected to their posts.

If you work for a big firm it's not so hard to find people to cover your work while you're campaigning. But if you're a solo attorney is it still a good idea to run?

Just like any other career change, only you know if it's the right time to run for elected office. But if you think you're ready, don't forget to consider what you could gain or lose at your current day job.

Of course campaigning takes time and resources which could be going to your business. If you definitely want to leave the practice of law then devote yourself to running.

But if you think you still might want to keep your practice, don't neglect it.

Set aside a few days a week that will be devoted to your office work and working with clients. While you may have to scale back your client load, if the election doesn't go well you still have a continuing practice to go back to.

It might also be a good idea to hire a campaign manager for the race. That way you can split your time between election and work without having to sacrifice either.

Talk to your marketing team about incorporating information about the election into your firm's website. Not only will it be good publicity for your campaign but if people come looking for your practice after hearing your platform, they'll know they found the right place.

When it comes to actually running, the campaign itself could either harm or help your solo practice depending on how you conduct yourself. Either way it will get you a lot of publicity.

Always keep in mind that public appearances and statements aren't just about the upcoming election. You are also putting your future reputation as a lawyer on the line.

Be polite and knowledgeable and avoid negative tactics whenever possible. They may give you a slight bump in contested state elections but they will also follow you for a long time and could turn off future clients.

While most people intend to run on a platform of integrity, continually check in with yourself to find out if the campaign is still something you can be proud of. Not only will that preserve your reputation as an attorney, it may also get you the votes you need.

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