How to Become a

Civil Rights Lawyer

The complete career guide to be a Civil Rights Lawyer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $136,260
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.6%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Civil Rights Lawyers investigate and advise individuals who’s rights of religion, race, gender, sexuality, age or appearance have been violated in the workplace and medical facilities or any other public forum.  They defend individuals that are discriminated against for their personal characteristics and ensure that their clients receive fair and equal treatment.

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What is a Civil Rights Lawyer?

The following responsibilities are common for Civil Rights Lawyers:

  • Presents civil cases to judges and juries
  • Investigates legal data
  • Negotiates settlements of legal disputes
  • Drafts legal documents, briefings and contracts
  • Files legal documents and appeals in Federal Court on behalf of their clients

A Day In The Life

When an individuals civil rights have been violated, that person is entitled to file a civil suit against the institution that committed the offense.  In a case such as this a civil rights attorney would be contacted.  The lawyer may then be hire to represent the client.  Their job is to then file a judgment in court to prove their clients civil rights have indeed been violated and pursue monetary compensation.

It is common for individuals to specialize their practices to a particular field of expertise or interest, like, human rights, human trafficking, disability rights or women’s rights.

Typical Work Schedule 

This position is often spent in an office for at least 40 hours or more a week.  The rest of their time is spent in courthouses and in mediation or conciliation offices.

Projected Job Growth

Although there has been a decline in the use of attorney’s as a result of greater reliance on paralegals and legal assistants.  Although, due to the fact that the majority of civil rights cases are argued in Federal Court the demand for attorney’s in this particular field is still in high demand, particularly within the government.

Typical Employers

The majority of civil rights lawyers have positions in government or public service.  For example, the FBI has its own civil rights division dedicated to focusing its efforts on hate crimes and human and sex trafficking victims.  Most have their own private firms and consult on cases and testify in court proceedings as well.

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How To Become a Civil Rights Lawyer

To become a civil rights attorney, one must first complete an undergraduate degree program.  Bachelor’s degrees in areas of study like English, Statistics, Political Science or Philosophy would all be relevant ciriculums.

After completing their undergraduate studies they must then attend and complete law school which is typically a 3 year program.  During this time in school one can discover and be directed to their specialized field of law.

After law school, individuals must then pass a state bar exam to the applicable state the individual wants to practice law in.  Every state has its own requirements to pass the exam.

Civil Rights Lawyer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Civil Rights Lawyer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Civil Rights Lawyer's can make an average annual salary of $136,260, or $66 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $76,300 or $37 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #22 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Civil Rights Lawyer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Civil Rights Lawyers

  • 91%   Doctorate
  • 4.1%   Masters
  • 3.5%   Bachelors
  • 0.5%   Associates
  • 0.4%   College
  • 0.4%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Civil Rights Lawyer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 43,800 jobs for a total of 822,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #401 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Civil Rights Lawyers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Legal services 376,100 22,100 22%
Self-employed workers 165,500 -1,800 -2%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 55,600 5,300 5%

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