There are a lot of people in the world who lack the power they need to fend for themselves. The reason may be attributed to economics, a lack of education or social capital, discrimination, or disability. Whatever the case, some people fall victim to the inequities of those who do wield power.
Fortunately, there are people who dedicate their lives and careers to helping those who need it. The ones who make a difference don’t just show up for work. They are passionate about protecting others and effecting change that levels the playing field.
Most professions involve helping someone else in some manner. A technology developer helps a consumer solve a problem. A healthcare provider treats patients. A housekeeper keeps spaces clean and healthy. But if you want to dedicate a career to building a fair and equitable world, here are three you might want to consider.
There are always two sides (at least) to every legal argument. Moreover, there are so many types of law that a licensed attorney can practice. Which side of an argument they take depends on the interests of the clients they represent.
While attorneys of all stripes are arguably helping others, some fight for justice for those who need it most. In doing so, they give their clients a voice they otherwise wouldn’t have so they are heard, loud and clear. As Benjamin Franklin said: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Social justice–oriented attorneys channel their outrage for good.
Among the most noble are attorneys who fight for justice for victims of negligence, abuse, malpractice, and malice. Take the nursing home abuse lawyer who helps clients stand up to institutions they trusted with a vulnerable loved one. Consider the pro bono lawyer who works to overturn a wrongful conviction.
Attorneys work at private firms, for nonprofit organizations, and in the public defender’s office. In some cases, they work tirelessly to protect the rights of individuals and in others, entire populations. They represent justice at its finest in a legal system often biased against people who are in most need of it.
2. Social Worker
Social work is most often associated with positions in governmental agencies, such as child and family services. While social workers perform a critical service for such agencies, their reach is far longer. They are employed in locations including schools, mental health facilities, hospitals, prisons, senior centers, and the military, to name a few.
Social work professionals toil tirelessly to bridge the gap between people who need assistance and the vital services they need. For example, there are new moms who need diapers and cribs and elderly people who need hot meals and home health. But this profession is also filled with researchers, policy planners, and advocates for populations that can’t advocate for themselves.
There are many governmental and private programs that serve a variety of health and social needs. The problem is that most people don’t know they exist, and if they do, don’t know how to access them. The social worker is the conduit through which they get the help they need.
The need for social workers is reflected in the growth of the profession and the difficulty the industry experiences with regard to turnover. There’s an expected growth rate of 13% from 2019 to 2029, but 14% of workers leave the profession annually. For those looking for a way to change lives every single day, the rewards may be worth the daily battles.
Advocates come in all shapes and sizes, each promoting the best interests of an individual. groups of people, or systems. Advocates provide support for underserved individuals and populations, such as the elderly and disabled, to raise awareness and protect rights. They fight for those society discriminates against or even ignores. But you can also find advocates for broader issues such as access to proper medical care and racial and economic justice.
Although most advocates are unsung heroes, there are many individuals and organizations that epitomize this calling. Think of Frederick Douglass advocating for the end of slavery, Gloria Steinem for women’s equality, and Greta Thunberg for combating climate change. Advocacy is the mission of organizations such as the Campaign for Human Rights and your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
Advocates must be extremely passionate about their cause and dedicated to promoting it to be effective. They need those qualities to make themselves heard, which in turn elevates the voices of those they advocate for. For so many individuals, groups, and causes, advocates are the only people keeping them from falling through the cracks.
The Other’s Keepers
There are concrete rewards for holding a job, such as a paycheck, retirement contributions, and health insurance. But for some careers, the greatest compensation is something far less tangible than a growing 401(k). It’s about changing the world one person, one group, or one cause at a time.
In today’s world, the powerful keep gaining power while the less powerful continue to be pushed to the margins. It’s the other’s keepers who pull them back onto the page.