Back in economically flush times, public interest law careers
were regarded as the vocational redoubt for those who didn't make
the cut at a law firm. David Stern, CEO for the nonprofit Equal
Justice Works told The National Jurist in May 2009 that he
noted a change in attitude, with a newfound respect for the
accomplishments of public interest lawyers, and increased
competition among students for positions leading to careers in
public interest law.
It's not because there are more jobs on the public side. The poor
economy cut job opportunities in the public and nonprofit sectors
as much if not more than in the private sector. Instead, it's
students' perception of what constitutes the real value of a law
degree, and the realization that training in public service careers
broadens their experience, making them more employable when the
market picks up.