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.

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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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