The Many Pathways to Civil Rights Careers…

By: Steve Grumm

Most folks think of “public interest law” as an arena filled by nonprofit and government organizations.  But many law firms (typically smaller ones) also have robust public interest practices even though they work on a for-profit basis.  Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the practice of a civil rights firm, and perhaps nowhere are civil right firms more prevalent than in Washington, DC.

A brief piece in yesterday’s Post looked at the popularity of civil rights careers in for-profit firms, government, and in the nonprofit arena.

The Washington region is a magnet for civil rights lawyers in the public and private sectors. Civil rights careers are sprinkled throughout the Beltway, and according to a count on LinkedIn, some 211 people have civil rights in their job titles in the region. The Justice Department employs 393 civil rights attorneys and 48 paralegals, a spokesman said.

“I think there are jobs for people who want them, in D.C. especially,” said [Jennifer Klar, a former Biglaw attorney who now works with a boutique civil rights firm], noting that most government agencies have civil rights offices and many lawyers and others work in civil rights areas for the Justice Department.

Many 20- and 30-somethings seem “really interested in these types of positions,” said Lisa Mottet, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s transgender civil rights project director. Over 10 years, she has worked with 40 legal interns; about seven of them continue to work in the LGBT civil rights movement, she said.

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