June 14, 2016 at 2:04 pm #2017ihatetestsbutiloveschoolParticipant
Is there anyone here whose interested in this particular field of law or is currently practicing in the field? If not, any thoughts on this field? Obviously, I’m not going to be banking it since the salary is already telling me that narrative right now being in the field.
June 14, 2016 at 9:46 pm #2031feelinglawfulParticipant
Hey, I’m definitely interested in this field and I know there are a lot of other people who share those sentiments. Not a lot of thoughts come to mind to share when I read your post because I’m not sure what exactly you want to talk about. I will say this, though. I don’t think people who want to be human rights lawyers should really be focused on making a lot of money. Sure, it’s understandable to want to make good money and help others at the same time, but honestly, being a human rights lawyer seems gruelling and thankless from what I’ve seen. Most clients don’t have any money to begin with. It takes a different kind of intrinsic drive to be successful in that field.
I don’t mean to make it seem like you only want money, I highly doubt you do. I only mean that money should be a pretty low priority in your consideration of pursuing a career as a human rights lawyer.
June 15, 2016 at 2:29 pm #2046ihatetestsbutiloveschoolParticipant
The original post was short and brief because I was very lazy at the time of writing it but for the purpose of clarification, I wanted more insight on practicing law within human rights/social justice initiatives. Recently, I attended a session focused on the increasingly problematic issue of human trafficking where human rights attorney/judges were asked to convene and comment on their experiences working within the legal system. Many of the professionals articulated a high degree of frustration with the process because in their words, “some of the perpetrators are the ones sitting behind the bench”. How do we make peace with that? I make peace with it by trying to change it every day but it would be a lie to say that it doesn’t get exhausting when justice is not served. Many of the people who need protection are primarily from under-served and marginalized communities who are also disadvantaged, under privilege and at-risk. In other words, money talks. I sure as hell don’t have money and I know my client(s) don’t either. I also know that public defenders have a million cases, no time, and their salary is most likely not a match (to their duties and responsibilities). As a result of that, many friends (who were once in pursuit of becoming public defenders) have chosen otherwise.
What are your thoughts? Although I strongly believe that a law degree will gave me the capacity to initiate and pursue legal actions in an effort to protect my clients, I don’t believe the process in of itself is enough to transform a system that has historically benefited people with power (and money).
Anyways, I am just blabbing now.
June 15, 2016 at 5:36 pm #2052LSAT DanParticipant
This kind of work tends to be an extreme combination of frustrating and rewarding. It definitely takes a certain temperment. There are some laws in place to provide legal fees (fair market rate legal fees) to attorneys who prevail in certain civil rights cases.
Of course, in addition to public defenders, prosecutors also tend to be overworked and underpaid. Many public defenders and prosecutors stay long enough to feel like they’ve done some good, pick up a lot of trial experience, and then turn to private practice; then there are the “lifers.” I had a number of friends in law school who turned their backs on the $140,000/year jobs straight out of law school (more or less the going rate for top law school graduates at big firms in the summer/fall of 2007, when I graduated) and instead joined the public defender’s office (some of them) and the district attorney’s office (others of them). They were mostly the true believer types…I think they’ll be there until retirement.
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