Who is Suited for Public Interest Law?
No field of law is suitable for every person. Even if that particular legal field is lucrative, then that is not the best reason to pick that area. It is taxing to imagine living your life in a law career you do not find personally rewarding. Public interest attorneys do not usually make as much money as their counterparts and colleagues in the private sector. For this reason, public interest law is recommended to those with a passion for social and civic justice. Many public interest lawyers report incredible amounts of happiness because it is so rewarding to help people who have little to no representation. Marginalized groups of people are in desperate need of legal expertise as are the entities that connect them to someone like you.
Besides, beginning a career in the public interest does not dictate staying in it forever. It is a proven way to get your foot in the door and the invaluable experience that makes for an attractive candidate for any legal sector, private or public.
How to Decide Which Law School is Right for You
Cost is always a huge factor when choosing any avenue of higher education. Entering the workforce with a high debt load could impact not only the kind of job a graduate can take, but where it is located. It is vital to research the average cost of living in any place where you take a position. If someone wants to work for a pro bono legal nonprofit, for instance, then the pay will not be commensurate to a career in the private sector. Look for law schools that offer generous scholarships and stipends. Make a list of which you are qualified for and when the application dates are due. Explore the cost of living in the city where the law school is located, too, to minimize debt risk.
Finding out where public interest attorneys you know have attended school is a smart way to narrow down which schools have programs right for you. Asking working lawyers where they attended school can help narrow down choices. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn to explore by specialization and then take note from where that person graduated. If you see a lot of public interest lawyers attended the same institution, then that should be a big clue what school will work best for you.
Careers for a Public Interest Law Degree
A focus in public interest law does not automatically mean working for nonprofits. Of course, that is a vast area to explore. Working as a consultant, a lobbyist, or representing socioeconomically disadvantaged people or not-for-profit businesses and organizations is a great career. It is also worth noting that taking such a position allows for a tremendous sense of personal and professional development utilizing many skill sets.
Government work is another possibility. The choices go beyond working for the district attorney’s office as a criminal prosecutor. There is also much need for transactional and regulatory attorneys on local and federal levels.
Choosing a law school is one of the most critical choices a future public interest attorney can make. Take a carefully balanced and researched approach to ensure the institution is one in which you can thrive.