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Regulatory Affairs Jobs For Lawyers Who Want To Be Lobbyists

Are you interested in working in the middle, between government regulators and the businesses they’re regulating? You can do that by working in regulatory affairs jobs, which make for great alternative careers with a law degree.

Businesses within the same industry pool together to form trade groups or associations that provide members with helpful resources, opportunities for networking and a collective strength for influencing public policy.

As a post-recession law school graduate, today’s guest PJ Hoffman expanded his idea of law graduate jobs and found the perfect fit for him as a lobbyist for a credit union trade association.

You’ll see how this path makes a good fit for law grads, due to the mix of working with public policy and using strong communication skills. PJ also tells us that regulatory affairs jobs (which include lobbyist jobs) are great ways for young lawyers to break into the legal job market – particularly in DC.

Watch the full interview to hear what working at a national association is like and discover how to break into these alternative legal careers:

Join JD Careers Out There for access to this video plus more day-in-the-life career path interview videos & transcripts.

Today’s Guest

Association Lobbyist PJ HoffmanAssociation Lobbyist PJ Hoffman
Title: Regulatory Affairs Counsel, National Association of Federal Credit Unions
City: Washington, DC
Law School: University of Miami School of Law in Miami, FL
College: Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL
Previous Careers: PJ worked as a political campaign finance director on several U.S. Senate and Congressional campaigns prior to going to law school.
Videos: PJ’s Career Advice


This is a transcript of the preview video on trade association jobs.

Join JD Careers Out There to access the full transcripts and career path guidance videos, plus videos to help you with interviewing, networking & more.

Luber: Hey everyone, are you interested in jobs where you get to interact with all sorts of government officials and work on the frontlines with the latest laws and regulations? That’s what we’re talking about today on JD Careers Out There, so stick around! [THEME SONG]

Alright, as you may already know, at JDCOT we explore career paths you could do with a law degree – both in and out of law. We do that to help you find a career that fits you so you can love what you do.

I’m Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Today’s guest is PJ Hoffman and he’s a Regulatory Affairs Counsel at a national trade association in Washington, DC.

PJ hasn’t been a lawyer all that long but he brings some amazing experience to the table. Prior to going to law school, he spent around 6 years working in the political campaign world for US Congressional candidates. Now he’s got some great advice to share with us on working at national trade associations using a law degree. Let’s meet PJ. PJ, welcome to the show!

PJ: Thanks, it’s really great to be here. Thanks a lot for having me.

Luber: Definitely. Thank you for being here. I’m glad you’re here. So PJ, I’m going to be asking you to tell us all about this path – like who fits in best, how to break in and how to succeed. But first, why don’t we start by your giving us your elevator pitch on what you do as a regulatory affairs counsel for a national trade association.

PJ: Sure. So I have the greatest job in the world, right? So I get to explain difficult regulatory issues to our members – and on the same side, take that information from our members and explain that to regulators to help them understand how it’ll affect businesses every day.

So it’s back and forth. I get to take complicated issues, make them simple, but also advocate on their behalf to make sure those rules don’t crush their ability to do business every day.

Luber: Interesting! OK, so we’re talking about “members,” we’re talking about a “trade association,” just in case there’s viewers who don’t know what it is we’re talking about, can you tell us what is a trade association and what they do?

PJ: Sure. So there’s a lot of different types of trade associations out there.

My trade association, a lot of trade associations, are essentially member-owned businesses, right? They’re not-for-profit organizations that lobby on behalf of their members – and so a lot of the members can either be, depending on the type of trade association, mandatory members – say in like bar associations or other types of associations like that that do licensing, or as the one I work at is an independent trade association, so members decide to pay dues to our trade association – and what we do is we then advocate on their behalf.

Luber: You mentioned bar associations. So we should tell people then like the American Bar Association, that would be an example of a trade association?

PJ: Yeah, that’s a great example. The realtors have a trade association; your teachers have a trade association. In fact, I’m pretty sure that almost anybody looking at this video has a trade association, whether they’re a member or not, that’s representing their interests here in Washington.

Luber: Interesting. So then is the main purpose of a trade association really like a ‘strength in numbers’ game for the purposes of lobbying leverage?

PJ: Sure, so that’s one of the avenues. The other is a specialized understanding of complicated issues. So our trade association provides explanations in English for what the regulatory environment is looking like. So you can get a 1,000-page regulation that comes down, but I can write you a 10-page memo that explains what that really means every day for you.

Luber: Can you do that for me, please, for the Obamacare Affordable Care Act because I can use an explanation!

PJ: Ha, no, Dodd-Frank, I’ve got you! But I think that’s it.

Luber: Hahaha! Um….So what would you say is the most rewarding part of working in a national trade association?

PJ: Well, every day, I get to talk to members of ours who deal with regulations every day that will affect the way they make their business decisions – and that is pretty rewarding to see efforts that I’ve made to either change a regulation or to make sure a regulation is less onerous than it could have been.

Or to take an issue from a member, explain it to a regulator and have them tweak the rules just a little bit so that it does the intended results as opposed to say like taking out one of our member’s businesses that they didn’t mean to do, if that makes sense.

Luber: Got it. Good stuff! We’ll continue this discussion in the Full interview. You’ll hear lots more from PJ about working in regulatory affairs jobs, how your law degree helps in this path, how YOU can do it, and how YOU can break in to these law graduate jobs.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to full, in-depth interviews & transcripts to get your career on track. Check out the great things people say about JDCOT by clicking here.

©2019 Careers Out There

Are you interested in DC legal jobs? Let us know what you think of lobbyist or regulatory affairs jobs in the Comments section below.

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More From This Guest

JDCOT's self-reflection questionnaire 


Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.