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Job Opportunities in Law Pertaining to Civil Rights

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Education Requirements

Becoming a civil rights attorney begins with a four year degree followed by a three year education in law school. During law school, the lawyer will make the decision and take the courses needed to specialize in constitutional law. After graduating from law school, the lawyer has to pass the bar exam before practicing law. Every state has differing requirements for passing the bar exam, so be sure to check for your state's requirements. Many prestigious law firms are tough to get into because of the competition for admission that exists, so education is very critical. Some law students find it hard enough to get into a prestigious law school in this day and age, which should speak to the amount of competition that exists within the industry.

Job Duties

Depending upon the specialization of the civil rights attorney, there are different duties that are required. Many of the specializations involve special interest groups. These include religious rights, disability rights, human rights, women's rights and other groups. Civil rights attorneys fight to ensure that individuals in this area are being treated equally across the world. Other lawyers will focus on just one bill or amendment, such as the privacy act, freedom of expression, libel and first amendment, the eleventh amendment, election/voting rights, FOIA and so on. The civil rights attorney is someone whom is ensuring that individuals are treated equal, no matter what.

The civil rights attorney will be spending a significant amount of time in the courtroom, following procedures, making motions and following a procedure of debate, as well as presenting ones case with evidence and the conclusions which follow. There are many additional aspects to the job, which include doing research, interviewing individuals for information, trail preparations, and so on. The civil rights lawyer must be prepared for these and more in the pursuit of his or her career.


In 2006, the median salary for a lawyer in 2006 was $102,470 with the bulk of salaries in this range between $69,000 and $145,000. Depending upon the specialty or level of experience, the median annual earnings differs from case to case. Fresh out of college, in nine months an average lawyer will earn a median annual salary of $60,000, though some may earn upwards of $85,000. More experienced lawyers will earn significantly more money in the long run, although the salaries vary as much as the employment locations and specialties. What is important to know is that civil rights attorneys can take numerous different jobs in the industry, and each will come with its own unique salary requirements and other benefits accordingly.

Job Opportunities and Outlook

In 2006, there were more than 761,000 lawyers employed in the practice of law all throughout the country. Of those, 27%, including numerous civil rights attorneys, were self-employed and acted either as a partner in a law firm or by flying solo in their own practice. There is quite a large number of government and public service positions that are held by lawyers of this type, but along the same lines, civil rights attorneys can constantly see a wide variety of different job positions to fill that would utilize their skills and specialties.

There is an annual, average employment numbers growth that is certain every year, but the positions are not without competition. With the number of graduates of law school increasing along side the number of jobs, there is no real shortage of positions for a civil rights attorney. One can hope for a time when there will no longer be a need for civil rights attorneys, but until the time when we are all treated equally, there will be much work for the civil rights attorney.

In the case when there is not an immediate opening in the civil rights field of law, there are many other specialties that one can enter until enough experience is accumulated to more easily enter one's desired specialty. Law students just out of school can go into general practice while looking for a job that matches with their specialty and they will have no problems transferring into a specialty civil rights attorney job later on.


The civil rights attorney is a person who fights for an ideal or the rights of citizens of our country. Working solo or as part of a law firm, the civil rights attorney is one of a myriad of specialties within the law field. There is a large amount of competition for job positions, but the field is worthwhile to enter into because it allows for attorneys to fight for the rights of their clients, regardless of whether they are women's rights, voter's rights, animal rights, first amendment rights or any of the other rights that we hold as citizens of this country.

About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

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Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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