LM Live Recap: How Public Interest Law Can Help Change the World

12/07/2023 in
LM Live Recap: How Public Interest Law Can Help Change the World

On Wednesday, December 6, LM Live hosted a panel discussion on public interest law. Dubbed, “Inside or Outside the Room: Law, Public Service and Power,” the panel dug into the highlights and challenges of a public service legal career, with speakers from a range of backgrounds digging into their own career paths and legal practices.

The panel featured Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice, Anita Laremont of Fried Frank and Wendy Striker of Frankfurt Kurnik; Ross Moskowitz, a partner at Hogan Lovells and a former government official, served as moderator. Panelists discussed a wide range of topics. Laremont discussed the importance of pursuing things that can and do interest you and how those choices can impact the career choices you make later on; Moskowitz emphasized “being open to the potential and the possibilities.” Waldman explored the Brennan Center’s unique strategy of using the language of the people in power to accomplish their goals, which can be challenging for people who come in with a passion for change.

Panelists also touched on how a less lucrative career in public interest law can feel daunting for debt-laden new law school graduates. They stressed the importance of considering your life circumstances, and the things you are or aren’t willing to give up to do something you love, when choosing a career path. Stryker, for instance, talked about the conflict she faced leaving a purely public service position to take a position at a better-resourced private firm that would allow highly impactful pro-bono work; panelists pointed out that you can balance private sector work with volunteer work on boards and involvement with civic organizations like the ACLU/NYCLU and New York Public Radio.

And the panelists also discussed the nature of public service work both inside and outside of government, and how essential their work has become in the last decade or so, with increasing governmental upheaval and challenges to civil and human rights legislation. They explored the “inside”- and-“outside”-the-room dynamic; i.e., the split between being on the side of the decision makers, and advocating on the behalf of those affected by the decision makers’ actions. Public service work, they argued, has become even more essential in turbulent times, for advocates both “inside” and “outside.”

“I believe that the notion that things are so bad that I should just throw up my hands is so absolutely wrong, because then things will just be bad,” Laremont said. “Government — which we know from seeing many iterations of good government and bad government — is just the people who are in the government. If you want the government to be good, it is helpful to be in the government.”

You can listen to a recording of the panel discussion here, as well as read a recap of our previous industry deep dive on women in biotech. Be sure to stay tuned for more industry-centric LM Live events in the months to come.

Tags: lm live, public interest law

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