For many students, attending law school was a choice they made after deciding they wanted to help people. Pursuing law allows graduates to help their communities in a number of ways. Most attorneys contribute to their community by providing services pro bono in addition to their full-time work.
Working pro bono means that an attorney has decided to help people by providing legal assistance and guidance on an as-needed basis to those less fortunate on a reduced rate or for free. Pro-bono legal assistance is an important practice, as it allows everyone access to our justice system.
However, for many people, assisting the less fortunate on an occasional basis does not satisfy their desire to help. Many of these attorneys choose a career in public interest law. Public interest attorneys choose to dedicate their entire career to helping a particular group or cause and working for the cause becomes their full-time job.
Public interest careers cover a wide variety of political interests, societal needs and religious beliefs. As an attorney, working with almost any non-profit can be considered a career in public interest. We’ve provided some examples below to help you decide if you want to consider a career in public interest law.
Legal Aid Society
The Legal Aid Society is dedicated to providing low-cost or free legal services to elderly and impoverished people. Many major cities have local Legal Aid branches that provide specific services to the people of their community. The local branches may provide civil and criminal representation, along with assistance with housing issues, access to medical care and applications for disability.
A quick Google search will reveal whether or not there is a Legal Aid office in your city and what services it provides. Legal Aid is an invaluable resource for individuals across the country, and working in one of the branches would be a great way to begin a career in public interest law.
Religious organizations of any size require representation to further their causes and protect their interests in the United States. Working for your particular church or religious organization is a great way to use your law degree to further a cause you believe in.
While government jobs are not considered public interest careers, working to further a particular political cause can be. Many individuals make full-time careers working on issues like abortion, the death penalty, prisoner’s rights, or universal access to health care. Personal dedication to an issue is often what leads to changes in the law, and the attorneys that work for these changes deserve our admiration.
Public interest law careers can run the gamut and can reach every part of society. Legal and social change often requires a group of people seeing a problem and working together to fix it. If the problem involves a legal question, public interest attorneys can play a huge part in fixing that problem. The attorneys who dedicate their careers to protecting civil rights and ensuring that laws are enforced and unjust laws are changed all deserve our full support.
This article was written by Social Media Outreach Coordinator, Melissa Woodson, on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2tor — an education technology partner that partners with institutions of higher education such as Washington University in St. Louis to deliver their LLM degree in U.S. Law.
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