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If Andrew Shapiro were still a law firm associate, his billable hours would be staggering. Since hooking up with Al Gore’s presidential campaign in Nashville five months ago, working seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 1 or 2 a.m. has become routine for the 33-year-old D.C. lawyer. His job: compiling vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman’s daily briefing book. Instead of making $150,000 a year, the former Covington & Burling associate is bringing in a puny salary and living in a cramped studio apartment near Vanderbilt University. At least he’s now getting paid: For the first 10 weeks on the job, Shapiro worked for free. “I never did this for the money,” he says. “I had been a big Gore supporter for a long time, and I knew this might be one of my last opportunities to take time off and commit myself like this.” When Shapiro, a Columbia Law School graduate, packed his bags for Nashville, he was finishing a two-year stint at the Justice Department and was at a natural point to make a job change. But for other young Washington lawyers, working for the Democratic ticket full time has meant interrupting promising legal careers — at least temporarily. Among local attorneys pitching in for the last days of the campaign: Jeremy Bash, the campaign’s director for foreign policy and defense and a former judicial clerk at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Aaron Mendelsohn, political director for Minnesota and a former associate at Washington, D.C.’s Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering; and Jennifer Miller, adviser to the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee on a leave of absence from Washington, D.C.’s Wiley, Rein & Fielding. And while many of the local campaign staffers can hope to be rewarded with an administration job, their candidate, of course, has to win first. “Nothing is guaranteed,” Shapiro says. “If we win, I don’t really know what will be available. If we lose, I’ll have to do some soul-searching.” Indeed, taking a job on the campaign trail immediately puts a young attorney’s career in limbo. It is at once inappropriate to openly discuss job opportunities in the candidate’s administration and equally gauche to make plans in the event of a loss. Living with the ambiguity takes a blend of idealism and raw ambition. For Jeremy Bash, an Arlington, Va., native and Harvard Law School grad, the uncertainty is nothing new. Described as a superstar by his colleagues in the campaign’s policy shop, 29-year-old Bash serves as the campaign’s foreign and defense policy director. But before coming to Nashville in August, he spent nearly a year trying to land a job on the campaign staff. “I think I was the first clerk to leave my judge’s chambers without a job offer in hand,” jokes Bash, who in September 1999 finished a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton and sits in the Eastern District of Virginia. “Every day, the judge would come and ask me what I was going to do.” Interested in foreign affairs and intent on working for Gore’s election, Bash initially had no luck finding a job on the campaign staff. Instead, he accepted a job working on international trade issues with the Democratic Leadership Council. On several occasions, Bash found himself working closely with Gore’s foreign policy team, including the vice president’s national security adviser, Leon Fuerth. When the foreign affairs policy slot opened in Nashville after the Democratic National Convention, it was offered to Bash. “I think frankly the way I was able to get the job was by hanging around and volunteering for months,” Bash says. “I think I proved to people I could handle the work and that I was committed to the campaign.” Not yet 30, Bash is the go-to man for staffers who have foreign policy questions. He works with Gore’s senior advisers to develop campaign positions and has been thrust into the center of things by developments in the Middle East and elsewhere in recent weeks. “It’s a little mind-boggling,” he says. “Anytime something happens, people in the field will call me to ask what they should be saying about it.” Beyond Nov. 7, Bash, a former summer associate at Washington, D.C.’s Hogan & Hartson, says his only plan is to head back to Washington to see his wife, a producer for CNN. As far as his next career move goes, Bash says he hasn’t had time to think that far ahead. It’s the kind of gamble you have to be prepared for when you get involved in politics, says Craig Turk, who served as campaign counsel to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. “You develop a tolerance for ambiguity,” says Turk, who now works for McCain’s Washington, D.C.-based political action committee. “That not knowing what will happen next is actually part of the fun.” MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING Predictably, the risk is more palatable for those who are young, single, and debt-free. “Thank God I don’t have student loans to pay, or I’d never be able to do this,” says 26-year-old Aaron Mendelsohn, who left a new job at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering to join the Gore campaign in November 1999. Mendelsohn came on as deputy delegate director when the campaign moved to Nashville. His predecessor, a law school classmate from Northwestern University who was newly married, decided to give up the post rather than make the move. Single and living at home at the time, Mendelsohn gave his firm one week’s notice before buying a car and moving to Nashville. Following the Democratic National Convention in August, Mendelsohn became political director for campaign efforts in Minnesota. He is the first to admit the job is not always glamorous — a recent week had him securing travel arrangements for a visit from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and then frantically searching for 1,000 sticks to hold lawn signs. “As political director, I’m sort of jumping between every single area. This totally appeals to me. I never wish I was back at a law firm,” he says. After November’s election, however, Mendelsohn may face a tough career choice. He is set to begin a federal clerkship in December, but concedes it would be tough to turn down a position in the administration if Gore wins. While most law firms allow attorneys to take time off for campaign work, some local recruiters warn that spending too much time in politics can be a career detour for young attorneys. Unlike a stint at the Justice Department or at a regulatory agency, working as a political aide may bear little direct relevance to private practice lawyering, says David Donovan, recruiting partner at Wilmer Cutler. “Most firms would look at someone with five years of political experience and think they’re not quite equivalent to a fifth-year associate or of counsel. You might kind of be starting over,” Donovan says. “At firms that have more of a lobbying practice that type of political experience might be more valuable,” he adds. Keith Barrett, a legal recruiter in the Washington, D.C. office of Mestel & Co., agrees. “I’ve seen young lawyers run into trouble when they veer from the traditional career path to work on something like a campaign,” Barrett says. “Law firms are very conservative places. They say they want unique and creative people, but they don’t want people who are too unique.” ALLURE OF THE WEST WING Longtime Gore supporter Jennifer Miller, a third-year associate at Wiley, Rein & Fielding, will be making some hard career decisions after this election, no matter what happens. After two presidential campaigns and nearly three years in the Clinton White House, 31-year-old Miller says she would hesitate before accepting a job in the administration. “When you’re 23, just being able to walk into the West Wing is a thrill,” says the Stanford Law School graduate. “I need to think about what my career path is going to be. I’ve worked in the administration already, and I don’t really see myself having a permanent career in politics.” In fact, Miller never intended to let the campaign interrupt her work at the firm, where she specializes in Internet, privacy, and e-commerce law. Late last year through early 2000, she worked on the campaign in her free time — coordinating volunteers and low-dollar fund-raisers — while bearing a full load at Wiley Rein. In April she worked with a team of Washington, D.C. lawyers who vetted possible vice presidential candidates. “All I did was work, campaign stuff, and sleep,” Miller says. “Finally I realized that I couldn’t do what I’d promised to do for the campaign and keep my hours up.” So in August she took a leave of absence to work full time with Gore confidant Peter Knight at Democratic National Committee headquarters. She works for free and pays for her own health benefits. “I was either not going to be involved in the fall campaign or I was going to be totally involved,” she says. For those who know Miller, it is impossible to imagine her not being involved. Her connection to the vice president dates back to his first bid for the White House in 1988. She met the Gores at the New Hampshire Democratic convention in 1987 and went on to spend a summer working as an intern in his Senate office. As a senior at Harvard University, Miller made no post-graduation plans, expecting to work full time on a Gore presidential campaign. When Gore decided not to run in 1992, Miller took a job with Washington, D.C. media consulting firm Greer, Margolis, Mitchell, Grunwald & Associates. Among other projects, Greer Margolis was doing exploratory work for then-Gov. Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. In January 1992, Miller quit her job to join the Clinton team. Her work as a researcher for vice presidential selection led to a position on the transition staff where she shared an office with associate counsel Ronald Klain. The two worked well together. And as Klain rose to become chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno and then Vice President Gore, Miller followed. But this time around, with a job at Wiley Rein waiting, Miller says she would not automatically take a job in the administration. “I would only go into the administration if there was something specific I really felt I could make a contribution to,” she says. “It would have to be something substantive that deals with the issues I’ve really enjoyed working on at Wiley.” But to listen to Miller and others at ground zero of the Gore campaign, cushy White House jobs are not at the top of anyone’s mind. With one week until Election Day, winning is the focus and then — perhaps, after a long vacation and lots of sleep — the young lawyers will figure out what happens next. In Miller’s experience, things tend to work out. “There’s never a bad time to do something you feel passionately about,” she says.

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