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A legislative director usually works at the state or federal capitol with a particular legislator, monitoring all issues and proposed laws, and then making recommendations based on his or her boss's political bent. These supervisors usually have a staff of legislative assistants, who each typically focuses on one or a few issues, such as job creation, health care or the environment. Legislative directors also are employed by various unions and lobbying organizations to perform similar duties for organizations with specific interests in government.
The politics of a legislative director often will mirror those of the legislator or organization he or she represents. For instance, a legislative director with conservative political beliefs will likely be hired by a legislator or lobbying organization with conservative aims. Likewise, liberal politicians will prefer legislative directors with the same outlook.
In the U.S. capitol, Washington, D.C., each member of Congress — in the Senate and House of Representatives — has a legislative director to monitor all legislative activity and coordinate that legislator's stances and votes. Since legislators often are pressed for time, it would be impossible to read every bill proposed. It is up to the legislative directors to stay abreast of these developments and inform their bosses about the key elements of each proposed law.
Each member of congress actually is assigned a staff of legislative assistants to keep an eye on new legislation. These assistants are supervised by the legislative director, who typically divides each of their schedules to devote time to different issues. One legislative assistant may be assigned to oversee all developments on the defense front, for instance. Another may be focused exclusively on insurance and health care issues. This involves not only reading proposed legislation but also researching issues as they arise.
Though their staffs may be much smaller at this level, state legislators also have legislative directors to coordinate their efforts. Often, a party will pool its resources to have one or two legislative directors for that party's representatives in a particular house. The state executive branches also regularly hire a legislative director to oversee activity at the federal level and report back on issues directly pertaining to the state.
Lobbying groups, national unions and even corporations with direct governmental ties often employ a legislative director to secure each organization's interests at the state and national level. This usually does not involve lobbying efforts, but instead a monitoring role. These professionals are considered the eyes and ears of a particular organization in legislative matters, but it is also common for them to build a network of contacts with state and federal legislators in an effort to stay best informed about upcoming changes.
People would actually be surprised if they knew how much influence legislative directors have in their offices. This article sheds some light on that and, as such, is valuable information. I had a good friend who was a legislative director and his tales about how the office worked were eye opening, to say the least.
Those folks answer constituents, help congressmen determine what issues are the most important to their home districts, etc. If a citizen wants to present his or who issues to a congressman, the legislative director is an invaluable ally.
For young lawyers wanting to learn how to get involved in politics, landing a job as a legislative director is a great way to start. In fact, if you travel to D.C. and hang around long enough, you will learn that an awful lot of legislative directors are attorneys. The reasons for that are simple enough -- lawyers learn the legislative process quite well, understand the Constitution better than most people and those are skills that are tailor made for Congressmen looking for advice.
Besides, a lot of lawyers get disenchanted with practicing law in a hurry. What they learned in law school translates very well to a legislative office.