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Public Interest /Public Service Law

The idea of a career in public interest or public service law interests many Bates graduates.  The term public service usually encompasses the practice of law in a public setting—often a governmental or quasi-governmental office or agency.  Examples include:  The U.S. Attorney’s Office, a City Prosecutor or Public Defender’s Office, a State Environmental Protection Department or child welfare agency.  Some public interest lawyers represent indigent clients who could not otherwise afford to hire an attorney to protect their legal rights.  Others may work for a non-profit organization and represent the organization’s interests.  Public Interest and Public Service lawyers represent their clients’ interests in many different venues:  through lobbying, litigation, transactional or policy work.

While you are at Bates, it is worth getting to know the many opportunities for public service and civic engagement offered through the Harward Center for Community Partnerships.  The Harward Center staff is happy to talk with students about law-related volunteer and academically-based opportunities in the community. The general number for the Center is 207-786-6202.

Equal Justice Works is a non-profit organization which provides programs and scholarships for attorneys who work in the public interest and public service sectors.  They have created a free interactive guide to public interest programs at 150 of the nation’s law schools. http://www.ejwguide.org

Students considering public interest or public service legal careers should also be aware of student debt relief programs included in the federal government’s College Cost Reduction and Access Act.  The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program allows qualifying government and public interest employees to earn loan forgiveness.  The Income Based Repayment Program helps qualified borrowers keep their loan payments affordable based on their income and family size and may include forgiveness of remaining debt after 25 years of qualifying payments.  For more information, visit www.equaljusticeworks.org and click on the Resources Tab.  Then click on the box entitled “Student Debt Relief”.


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