Document Type


Publication Date



Professors Nielsen and Albiston revisit the 1978 article, The Public Interest Law Industry, by Joel F. Handler, Betsy Ginsberg, and Arthur Snow, which presents an empirical study of the public interest law ("PIL") industry in the mid-1970s. At that time, there were only eighty-six PIL firms or public interest law organizations ("PILOs") in existence in the United States. Then, PILOs tended to be small, had relatively small operating budgets, received most of their funds from private sources, and tended to focus most of their effort in a single substantive area, among other characteristics noted by Professors Nielsen and Albiston. However, there have been significant changes in the legal, political, social, and economic landscape since the mid-1970s, so one would expect PILOs to have changed significantly as well. Nielsen and Albiston's study is therefore a timely and important empirical reassessment of PILOs. The primary goals of their study are to understand how PILOs have changed between 1975 and 2004 and to address the related question "whether public interest lawyering with PILOs [has] changed dramatically." To those ends, they replicate the Handler et al. study using PILO data from 2004.