It is true that public interest lawyers make less than their colleagues in the private sector. It is possible, however, to live comfortably and make it affordable. Further, many public interest lawyers maintain high job satisfaction due to meaningful, challenging work that makes a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Many also have a more reasonable work-life balance than their private sector counterparts.
Starting salaries for public interest lawyers range from the mid-$30,000’s to the mid-$50,000’s and there are pay raises and opportunities for advancement as you progress in your career. Also, the benefits, especially for government lawyers, often exceed those in the private sector.
Learn about the different ways to finance your public interest position, both during law school and after graduation. Many nonprofits, legal aid offices and some government offices are running on shoestring budgets, so you may need to apply for a summer or post-graduate fellowship to get paid for the job of your dreams!
Loan Repayment Assistance offered by UST School of Law and the State of Minnesota may also be available to you: