University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Public Interest

Submitted by kgz on Thu, 05/22/2014 - 2:28pm

What is public interest law?

The definition of public interest law is broad, and usually describes work that is underserved by the for-profit bar. Accordingly, public interest law encompasses numerous areas of law, such as criminal law, family law, education, environmental law, and human rights.

Public interest work can include:

  • Legal clinics or public interest advocacy groups
  • Boards, agencies, or commissions
  • Government (federal, provincial, municipal)
  • International organizations
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Academic careers
  • Pro Bono work 

Why pursue a career in public interest law?

There is not just one path for law students to develop professional skills and seek out new challenges. Due to its diverse nature, public interest law can often provide a great deal of freedom for new lawyers to create careers that are more personalized.

Where do I start?

Public interest law organizations often do not actively recruit in the same way as firms in the for-profit sector. Because of this, law students interested in public interest law need to actively pursue these opportunities independently and be persistent in their search.

A career in public interest law requires self-motivation and an ability to search out interesting and relevant job opportunities, but can ultimately be very rewarding. 

Resources Regional Pro Bono

UN photo by Rick Bajornas

Meet Linda Taylor, the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award winner. Click here to learn about her global career with the UN and as well as gain insight on her experiences and advice for those interested in international law.