Public Interest Law Pathway
Public Interest Law is a large field that includes many different areas of practice. Examples include Criminal Law, Environmental Law, Family Law, Immigration Law, and Public International Law. Lawyers practicing in particular fields within public interest law must be trained not only in the substantive law relevant to the field, but in the lawyering skills that are most needed for the specific public interest practice. Common lawyering skills include litigation, negotiation, and client counseling, but particular fields may involve other skills as well.
Some students begin their course selection with their focus within public interest law already defined. Other students are interested initially in general exposure to public interest law, which enables them to better understand the type of work encompassed by the term. Not surprisingly, many students who start out exploring the field begin to develop a focus in a particular aspect of public interest law. For students who began with a preliminary focus, some gain an increased commitment to the area and search for ways to pursue their study of that field. Others learn from their initial experience that they would prefer to work in a different area of public interest law and continue their course selections based on that change of focus.
There are a range of opportunities available to all students interested in public interest law. The first stage of the pathway begins with the general study of public interest law within the listings of core courses. However, where there is a specific pathway for another practice area that could be practiced from a public interest focus, courses from that pathway may be designated as recommended courses for the Public Interest Law Pathway as well. Students wishing to dive right into these practice areas may simply jump from the Public Interest Pathway to the pathway for their chosen substantive area.
For students who have begun with a general study of public interest law, the second, third, and fourth stage courses suggest routes for beginning specialization or continuing to learn about new areas of public interest law. The recommended courses offer choices in the areas of clinics, skills, and substantive areas. Students who have jumped to substantive pathways at the outset may return to the general Public Interest Law Pathway as their interests change. Finally, students interested in public interest law should also take advantage of the law school’s rich array of cocurricular and extracurricular opportunities, which complement related courses.