Serve Specific Clients or Causes
Many students come to law school wanting to serve a specific client group, or develop that goal as they move through their education. Different types of clients are associated with specific subject matter specialties and practice settings, and bring distinct rewards and demands for lawyers working with them.
Low income individuals
Lawyers focused on serving low income individuals:
- Specialize in areas such as child welfare, consumer, criminal defense, disability, elder law, employment, government benefits (social security, veterans benefits and a wide range of other programs), health (Medicaid & Medicare), family, housing, immigration law, and post-prison re-entry
- Practice with civil legal aid providers, public defenders and small firms
- Demands often include ability to work with clients who are experiencing trauma. Lawyers working with them can be secondarily affected and must remain empathetic while setting emotional boundaries. Hours required vary.
- Rewards include making a difference by helping individuals or changing public policies. Intellectual and interpersonally challenging, especially when overlapping with work representing causes, groups and communities. Jobs serving low-income clients typically pay modest salaries.
- Credentials required in a non-profit setting include, commitment to the work and client demonstrated by involvement in clinics, externships, and volunteer work, plus relevant skills and knowledge
Moderate income individuals
Lawyers focused on serving moderate income individuals:
- Specialize in areas such as consumer, criminal defense, disability, elder law and estate planning, employment, government benefits (social security, veterans benefits), family, immigration and plaintiff’s personal injury law
- Practice primarily in small to medium size firms and occasionally with the Judge Adjutant General (JAG) Corps
- Demands consist of law practice management, intensive client interaction, focus on problem solving beyond narrow legal issues
- Rewards include making a difference by helping individuals, reforming unjust laws, plus control over one’s own work
- Credentials required are relevant skills and knowledge, and interpersonal skills.
High income individuals
Lawyers focused on serving high income individuals:
- Specialize in areas such as family law, and estate planning, and advising closely held businesses
- Practice in firms of all sizes, including many solo and small-firm practices.
- Demands include need for tax and broad-based business training, ability to communicate and work effectively with people and develop and maintain clients.
- Rewards include satisfaction of strengthening businesses and helping families; ability to define the scope of one’s practice; opportunity to generate a substantial income based on one’s abilities.
- Credentials required are requisite technical legal training and development of required personal skills.