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 U.S. Justice Department headquarters U.S. Justice Department headquarters in Washington. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Working at the U.S. Department of Justice is like joining a storied sports franchise with a long history of excellence, like the Yankees or the 1980s Lakers. The obvious difference is that DOJ lawyers often take a pay cut to join, but the value they glean is intrinsic. The best part of the job is being able to stand up in court and say these words: “I represent the United States.”

Every government lawyer remembers the first time he or she uttered those words because they represent something larger than the individual attorney or case. The words carry with them an obligation to uphold the integrity of the Justice Department as an institution dedicated to the rule of law and to maintain legal consistency across presidential administrations. That is why so many former DOJ lawyers use terms like “honored,” “privileged” and “humbled” when they discuss their tenure at Main Justice.

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