"Public interest law" is a broad term that describes a number of areas of practice, generally involving legal work in service of underrepresented people or causes; or legal representation of public interest groups. The term can also include government public service. For more information about the government as a career option, go to this page.
Examples of organizations that serve underrepresented populations include civil legal services organizations (a local example is Lone Star Legal Aid) that provide certain legal services to people falling under a designated income level, and public defender offices that provide criminal defense to people who cannot afford their own representation.
Public interest groups are non-profit legal organizations that represent specific people or causes. Some examples include the Institute for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union. There are groups that seek to achieve legal and social change through litigation; policy centers and "think tanks"; and community development groups. There also are international public interest organizations that advance causes of global interests.
Most public interest organizations seek applicants with a demonstrated commitment to public interest work. If you are interested in such an opportunity, be sure your resume accurately reflects any experience you have had that shows your interest in public service, especially community and volunteer work.
However, some public interest organizations interview on campus or post open internship, clerkship, and permanent positions on Symplicity. Along with the other Texas law schools, Baylor Law School also participates in an annual Public Interest Job Fair held during the spring at the University of Texas School of Law.
PSLawNet is a website with comprehensive information about public interest law, including job postings.
Watch this video highlighting the real-life experiences of law students participating in internships and fellowships to help meet the basic civil legal needs of Texas' poor.
For an idea of what the hiring climate is for public interest positions, see the NALP Public Interest Employment Market Snapshot Report published in Fall 2010.