Public Interest

In general, public interest lawyers work to make the legal system function more equitably by providing services to underserved populations or causes. Frequently, this involves representing individuals or groups who otherwise could not afford legal counsel. Public interest practice may involve litigation, regulation, and legislative or legal reform. Public interest practice can be within the purview of non-profit organizations, as well as government agencies and law firms that describe their practice as public interest.

Public interest practice often affords practitioners significant responsibility for clients and cases. A sense of commitment to the issues involved and a personal dedication to carrying out the work are essential to the public interest lawyer. Despite the fact that most public interest lawyers work long hours for relatively low pay, competition is extremely strong for the limited number of public interest positions. Law students interested in public interest careers should demonstrate that commitment through volunteer work, internships, part-time employment, or other activities that exhibit involvement with pertinent issues, in public service endeavors and/or with a particular community.

If you’d like to explore a public interest career path, be sure to make an appointment with an OCPD career counselor to develop job search strategies and review application materials.

Appointments can be requested via CareerLink.

Office of Career & Professional Development • American University Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW, Suite C115 Washington, DC 20016 • 202-274-4090 F: 202-274-4096