Public Interest Legal Careers
We recognize the lawyer’s obligation to serve the public good and are dedicated to encouraging and supporting students to contribute to and make a difference in their communities through public service work. We instill in our students a sense of duty to work in the public interest throughout their legal careers. One of our goals is to empower our students to seek full-time public sector employment. In recognition of and consistent with this commitment, we offer the Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
Public interest law is broadly defined as any legal service provided for the benefit of the public good, usually for those unable to afford traditional legal representation, and performed in a wide range of legal settings. Public interest law typically includes domestic and international nonprofit public interest organizations, government organizations and public interest work performed by private law firms. Public interest employers can be client-oriented organizations, such as legal service offices and legal aid societies that provide direct legal services to the indigent or individuals and groups traditionally underserved by the Bar. In addition, non-profit public interest organizations addressing the unmet legal needs of specific groups are also public interest employers.
International public interest organizations – nongovernmental, governmental, or intergovernmental – also engage in variety of public interest activities. This area of law focuses on major public policy issues and efforts by social action organizations to establish or change legal policy affecting a large class of individuals.
Public interest law also includes legal employment in federal, state and local government agencies and providing legal advice in federal and state legislative bodies. Direct representation by public defender offices, which are funded but not controlled by the government, is another setting for public interest law.
Positions in private public interest law firms and in pro bono departments of law firms provide additional opportunities to practice public interest law. The goals of these programs are to provide assistance and improve access to the justice system for those people and groups traditionally underrepresented by the private Bar and address legal issues that impact a large segment of society.