Public interest law students, lawyers, and all legal professionals provide free of cost or for a considerably low fee charge, service to the neglected portion of the public who are unable to afford these legal services such as the elderly or the indigent.
Who they act for?
The groups or individuals that are often neglected in society are provided free of charge service by public interest lawyers and non-lawyers alike. Research and studies indicate that about an approximate 80% of the legal issues of the poor community are relatively not met despite there being federal and state volunteer programs that provide legal services.
In addition to this public interest law professionals also strive to bring about policy changes and advocate for civil liberties. They fight for the betterment of society and the protection of the environment and consumer rights.
What are the types of Public Interest cases?
The public interest law students, paralegals, and other professionals handle issues that reflect broad public concern and work on a variety of cases and causes. Some examples of what a public interest lawyer may act upon are:
- Assist clients in filing domestic violence protective orders.
- Aiding unemployed individuals in obtaining benefits of unemployment or file for bankruptcy
- Tenants representatives in eviction cases
- Responsible for creating case memos and drafting letters for inmates claiming wrongful conviction
- Defense of a financial institution’s predatory lending practices.
- Follow-up with the family of a patient that is being treated at a clinic or children hospital
- Help legislators achieve regulatory reform
- Preparation of wills and directives of seniors
- Advocate for the betterment of abused or neglected children in court
- Helping homeless people obtain public benefits or social security.
Skills and Characteristics
To progress in a public interest law career, a person must be empathetic and possess a strong passion to help others as well as strong law career skills, this career is not for everyone. The following a few law career skills are necessary for public service work:
- Organizational Skills
- Listening Skills
- Communication Skills
- Coping with a crisis
- Public relation skills
- Negotiation skills
- Willingness and ability to work with limited resources and funds
- Orally advocating skills
In addition to the above law career skills following personal traits are also necessary for a public interest legal professional:
- Possessing a strong passion for service of the public
Public Service Work: What are the advantages and disadvantages
Although public service work includes many advantages over private work such as valuable experience and a better work-life balance on top of personal satisfaction, it can also include disadvantages.
The primary disadvantage is compensation in public service work: remuneration is generally less in a public service sector than any corporate firm or a position in such a firm.
Types of Public Interest Law Jobs
The individuals possessing law career skills that are working in the public interest can work in a variety of practice settings. These can include law firms that offer pro-bono programs:
What are the pro-bono services?
Pro-bono services can refer to services or work that are performed without any cost to benefit any initiative or for the general good of the public. Seldom expenses for performing pro-bono services are tax-deductible, but not all are tax-deductible.
Despite many thinking of pro-bono to belong to law services, pro-bono services can be a wide variety of services in multiple different sectors providing free of cost services such as doctors, accountants, etc. The IRS takes insight into what constitutes to be a professional service but providing a service does not or can not always mean that it is pro-bono work.
Apart from the pro-bono service legal professionals work with government agencies, legal service agencies, non-profit organizations, offices of the public defenders, international offices, and persecutors constituting working in a wide variety of practices amassing valuable experience from multiple fields of choice.