Public interest lawyers are both advocates and advisers of the law. Lawyers who choose to specialize in public law ensure that there is legal representation available to all members of society. This means that their clients can include those living in poverty, and their cases may involve civil rights violations, civil liberties cases, women's rights, consumer rights, and environmental protection. Public interest lawyers are responsible for representing vulnerable segments of society that would not have counsel readily available to them. They can be responsible for advising their clients in everything from business transactions to defending lawsuits. A public interest lawyer typically spends the majority of his or her time performing two separate tasks. These tasks are preparing for a court case and being inside a courtroom. To prepare for a court case, a public interest lawyer must first gather evidence to formulate a defense or to start any legal proceedings. Then he or she must evaluate his or her findings and develop successful strategies or arguments in order to win the case. Public interest lawyers must also ensure that their strategies and arguments follow strict legal guidelines. In order to accomplish this, they have to analyze and interpret any relevant laws, rulings, and regulations. The other main tasks of public interest lawyers involve being inside a courtroom. The first responsibility a lawyer has is choosing who will serve on the jury. Lawyers disqualify potential jurors based on their answers to questions that are deemed relevant to the case at hand. Within a courtroom, they are representing their clients and are required to present and summarize cases to judges and juries. During a court case, they will argue motions, meet with judges and question witnesses during the course of a trial, all to ensure the best possible outcome for their client. A public interest lawyer can work for charities, educational and public international organizations, private public interest law firms and private law firms. To become a lawyer, one must first graduate from a state bar-accredited or American Bar Association-approved law school and then pass the bar exam. The bar exam is made up of two separate parts. The first is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, which is the same test in every state; the second part of the exam is made up of essay questions that vary depending on the state.
Lawyer, Public Interest Tasks
- Gather evidence to formulate defense or to initiate legal actions; evaluate findings and develop strategies and arguments for presentation of cases.
- Analyze and interpret laws, rulings and regulations with probable case outcomes for individuals and businesses.
- Represent clients in court or before government agencies, present and summarize cases to judges and juries.
- Advise clients in business transactions, claim liablility, advisability of prosecuting or defending lawsuits or legal rights and obligations.
- Select jurors, argue motions, meet with judges and question witnesses during the course of a trial.