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.


  1. Antonio Allen said,

    February 24, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Goodafternoon, my name is Antonio Allen and I am employed at Childrens of Dayton in Ohio. I am also a college student. One of the many things I have noticed in the healthcare industry is still how lopsided it continues to be for people of color in working in administrative levels and upper management. There is not a lack of opportunities in areas such hospitality, housekeeping or even where I work, in shipping and receiving but even in 2013 the higher positions still seem to sparse for people of color. What type of careerss can lead to addressing these issues and or how can I somehow make a difference even now. Should I simply continue to hope that things will automatically change? Thank you for taking a moment to read my concerns..

  2. PSJD said,

    March 1, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Hi Antonio! It sounds like you’re interested in practicing some type of civil rights law, specifically against employment discrimination. Or maybe you just want to help communities of color and/or low-income communities gain access to equal employment opportunities. Either way, I would suggest going to a site like to browse the types of jobs available for college students interested in this type of work!

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