Civil Rights Lawyer – Civil rights lawyers, or human rights attorneys, are lawyers who work closely with the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause to ensure equality within legal means. They work to defend a just and fair society by addressing issues in the legal world that relate to civil rights and fairness for everyone.
They can work in a range of different organizations, such as non-profits, government agencies, and public interest law firms. These lawyers are tasked with arguing, analyzing, or researching cases dealing with equal protection under the law for all citizens.
Civil Rights Lawyer
Civil rights cases may include the free right of assembly, freedom from discrimination, or a lack of due process by law enforcement, among many others. The table below is a general overview of pursuing a career in this field.
What Are the Services Offered by A Lawyer for Civil Rights?
Here are some of the services offered by a lawyer for civil rights:
Representing Clients in Court
One of the duties of a civil rights lawyer is representing clients in court. This can include taking depositions and scheduling hearings for trials or settlement negotiations. If an employer or another person has wronged you, your lawyer will be there for you during these critical times when you need someone.
Filing A Lawsuit
Another essential function of a civil rights lawyer is filing lawsuits. When you have been discriminated against, it’s critical to contact a lawyer immediately so you can file a lawsuit as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the better. The statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit is usually three years, so if you wait too long, you may find yourself out of luck.
Assisting You with Any Paperwork
The lawyer will prepare all necessary documents required for this process, including written arguments explaining why they think the original ruling should be overturned, along with supporting evidence such as witness statements or expert witnesses who agree with their position on this issue, before submitting them.
Reviewing Contracts for Any Violations of Civil Rights
If you have a contract that was signed by a party who did not understand what they were signing, or if the terms of the agreement are illegal or otherwise violate your rights as an individual, your lawyer can look at it and tell you whether or not there is anything you need to do.
Negotiating Cases, Settlements, And Verdicts
Civil rights lawyers help in negotiating cases, settlements, and verdicts. This means that your lawyer will try to reach an agreement with the other side to settle out of court as much as possible (and save both parties time and money). They’ll also try to get the best possible outcome for the client they want to serve.
Advising Clients on How to Pursue Lawsuits Based on Civil Rights
For example, if someone has violated your civil rights, such as by discriminating against you because of your race or gender, you might want to pursue legal action against them. Your lawyer can help you determine what kind of lawsuit makes sense for your situation and guide you through the steps needed to file a claim with the court system.
How To Become a Civil Rights Lawyer
Civil rights lawyers devote years to training for a career in law because this role demands in-depth knowledge of the legal system. If you intend to pursue a career in civil rights law, you can consider the following steps:
Get A Bachelor’s Degree
Earning a bachelor’s degree or fulfilling 90 credit hours, typically over three years, is the first step in becoming a civil rights lawyer. You may consider pursuing a degree in government or a field involving human rights. You can concentrate on history, politics, public speaking, and government studies. Consider using this opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to community service or gain relevant skills through other opportunities.
Pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
It’s a requirement to pass the LSAT before being eligible for acceptance into any Law School Admission Council (LSAC)-accredited law school. This standardized admissions exam occurs four times a year. Your entrance to law school is dependent on your LSAT score, so you can consider using resources offered by your university, group study sessions, and free online materials to increase your chances of achieving an excellent score.
Complete Law School
Law school generally lasts three years, and you receive a juris doctor (JD) degree upon completion. Consider concentrating on courses in constitutional law, job discrimination, race, and the legal system, disability, family law, and civil liberties law if your school provides these electives during law school. Networking with your fellow LA students can be helpful because they may become your coworkers or a contact that assists you in securing employment following graduation.
Pass The State Bar Examination
Attorneys need to pass the bar examination to become licensed. Each state has varying rules and regulations regarding ‘passing the bar,’ but these usually include at least one bar examination along with graduating from an ABA-accredited school. If you want to work in a different state, you will usually be required to ‘pass the bar’ for that state, as well.
Continue Your Education
An additional advanced degree allows you to specialize in civil rights law, which can help you acquire a job as a civil rights lawyer or advance your professional development. Occasionally, schools provide programs for qualified lawyers specializing in a particular field of law. Students enrolled in civil rights law programs can acquire knowledge in areas such as immigration law and human rights law.
Common Civil Rights Violations
When it comes to civil rights violations, several types are commonly seen and fought by civil rights attorneys. An experienced civil rights lawyer will leverage experience to help you win your case. Some of the most common civil rights violations include:
Victims of sexual assault have been subjected to a violation of their civil rights and can be helped by a civil rights lawyer.
If an individual is being harassed by managers or co-workers due to religion, race, color, gender identity, or sex, those acts are direct civil rights violations that can be prosecuted by a civil rights attorney. Additionally, when an employer treats an employee or job applicant unfairly because of their race or identity, the employer can be prosecuted for violation of civil rights.
Unfair labor practices and wage violations are civil rights violations that can be fought in court. If a person has wages withheld or inaccurately paid due to discrimination, that act qualifies as a wage violation.
Unusual and Cruel Punishment
Subjecting someone to pain, humiliation, or suffering resulting from an unacceptable punishment is considered cruel and unusual and violates that individual’s civil rights. This type of punishment is grossly disproportionate in terms of the crime committed, causing it to be classified as “cruel and unusual.”
Violations In Seizures and Searches
People have the right to be secure personally, in their homes, and with their papers and effects when being searched or having property seized. If law enforcement has a warrant to search an individual’s car, they may not also search their home, as this would be a civil rights violation.
Human trafficking severely violates the victim’s civil rights, and such cases can be prosecuted by civil rights attorneys.
If a person is the victim of a crime or violent act that resulted from prejudice based on religion, race, sex, or similar discriminatory grounds, it is considered a hate crime and is a direct civil rights violation.
When law enforcement personnel use unwarranted and excessive force, it is an act of police violence and misconduct and directly violates that individual’s civil rights. Police brutality can range from harassment, false arrest, verbal abuse, intimidation, battery and assault, mayhem, torture, and even murder.
What Kind of Cases Do Civil Rights Lawyers Work On?
Whether they are monitoring compliance on behalf of a government agency or defending a client in a complaint, civil rights attorneys get involved in cases where a private or public organization is accused of violating the civil rights of an individual. Some examples include cases involving police brutality, prison abuse, sexual harassment, or the right to free speech.
These cases are argued based on constitutional amendments, applicable legislation in the relevant jurisdiction (federal, state, or local), as well as prior court decisions.
Where Do Most Civil Rights Lawyers Work?
Most civil rights lawyers work in either public service or for the government, with some maintaining their private practices.