What Is Public Interest Lawyering?

Because this blog is about public interest lawyering, it is important to define what exactly I mean by the term. We could define it as all legal work not done for a remunerative purpose, but rather to achieve some other goal. This definition is convenient if we want to ignore the fact that people disagree about what is in the public interest.

Take abortion rights as an example. Pro-choice lawyers spend their careers fighting to protect and expand abortion rights. Pro-life advocates spend their careers trying to cut back and eliminate abortion rights. Under this first definition of public interest lawyering, both sides could be engaging in public interest lawyering, even though they seek to achieve diametrically opposed goals. In both cases, it is not money that motivates the lawyers, but principles of equality and justice. They simply happen to disagree about how to interpret what those principles mean.

Continue reading “What Is Public Interest Lawyering?”

Welcome to Blog for the Public Good

Welcome to Blog For the Public Good, a blog about public interest lawyering! My name is Nicole Hallett and I am a public interest lawyer and a clinical professor at the University of Chicago Law School. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is helping other people find rewarding and challenging careers in public interest law. I enjoy it because I believe that public interest law is an extremely fulfilling career path but also because I think public interest lawyering plays an important role in the fight for a just society.

When I applied to law school, I knew I wanted to use my law degree to help people and I assumed law school would give me the skills to do that. But beyond that, I knew very little. I had no idea how I should choose a law school or the challenges I would face in law school and beyond. I muddled through with a lot of mentorship and some luck, and I saw classmates do the same. Now, I speak to lots of young people — aspiring lawyers, law students, and young lawyers — who have many of the same questions I did. When I first started getting these questions, I felt unequipped to answer them. After all, I was only a few years out of law school. But thirteen years into my legal career and eleven years into my career teaching and advising students, I now feel qualified to help. I spend hours every week sharing what I know with people who come to me for advice.

Continue reading “Welcome to Blog for the Public Good”