Public Interest Lawyers

Lawyers, or attorneys, help clients know their rights under the law and then help them achieve these rights before a judge, jury, government agency, or other legal forum, such as an arbitration panel. Lawyers represent individuals and for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Lawyers often choose a field of law in which to specialize. Lawyers specializing in public interest law provide a wide range of services to those who otherwise could not afford legal representation. They also work for organizations advocating for a particular cause. Their work is often done pro bono—for the public good—voluntarily and without payment. The American Bar Association, the largest association for legal professionals, has a Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. Approximately 592,670 lawyers work in the United States today in various legal specialties.

Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Public Defenders, Public Interest Attorneys
Duties Provide legal services to those who otherwise could not afford legal representation; work for organizations advocating for a particular cause such as environmental justice or human rights
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Nationwide
Minimum Education Level
  • Law Degree
School Subjects
  • English
  • Government
  • Speech
Experience Internship or clerkship
Personality Traits
  • Organized
  • Problem-Solving
  • Realistic
  • Business Management
  • Leadership
  • Organizational
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook About as Fast as the Average
Career Ladder
  • Law Professor, or Judge, or Organization Head
  • Supervisory Lawyer
  • Public Interest Lawyer
  • Law Clerk or Intern

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