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I'm curious about the motivations of lawyers.

It's often thought that lawyers are a service, like doctors, and will take any case presented to them, regardless of subject (within their area of expertise).

Are there also communities of lawyers who have a specific motivation to influence law or establish precedent? By that I mean lawyers who only accept cases (or even those who aren't accepting cases at all and instead seeking them out on their own) on the merit of being able to argue for a ruling that would either question an existing law, force a ruling (and precedent) on an existing issue, or cause a previous law or ruling to have different guidance established? Are there conventions or discussion areas so that a layperson can learn what types of issues are important to the legal community?

Or does their bar accreditation require them to provide some sort of access requirement by the public?

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    There are many such organizations. The first example that came to my mind is the ACLU. – Nate Eldredge Jul 14 '19 at 14:17
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    There are also, for instance, in-house corporate lawyers, who will only take cases from their employer. Lawyers who take cases from the general public are a specific subset of all lawyers, and maybe not even the majority. However, there can be pro bono requirements, that they spend a certain amount of time donating their services to those who cannot afford it. But they can still select pro bono clients whose cases align with the lawyer's own interests or goals. – Nate Eldredge Jul 14 '19 at 14:23
  • @NateEldredge: Corporate lawyers are still providing a service, it's just that that service is bound to a particular client, who also happens to be immortal, powerful, and has very long-term interests, such that establishing precedent may have non-negligible value to the client. – Kevin Jul 14 '19 at 16:14
  • @Kevin: Yes, of course. I was addressing the "access requirement by the public" part of the question. Corporate lawyers do not typically provide their services to the public. – Nate Eldredge Jul 14 '19 at 18:08
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It's often thought that lawyers are a service, like doctors, and will take any case presented to them, regardless of subject (within their area of expertise).

This is true of neither lawyers nor doctors. In general, neither is under any obligation to accept any client (subject to their employment contract and, for a doctor, an obligation to render first-aid).

That said, most lawyers are not litigators and never go near a court room.

Are there also communities of lawyers who have a specific motivation to influence law or establish precedent? By that I mean lawyers who only accept cases (or even those who aren't accepting cases at all and instead seeking them out on their own) on the merit of being able to argue for a ruling that would either question an existing law, force a ruling (and precedent) on an existing issue, or cause a previous law or ruling to have different guidance established

Yes.

For example, the ACLU actively seeks these sorts of cases. Similarly, government lawyers will launch or defend cases if they want a precedent set - it’s a fair bet that government lawyers in US states with ostensibly illegal abortion laws will actively be seeking prosecutions which will end up in the Supreme Court.

Of course, lawyers are disproportionately represented among politicians and their staff who’s reason for existence is to influence laws.

Notwithstanding, all lawyers have an ethical obligation to the best interests of their client and to the integrity of the legal system.

Are there conventions or discussion areas so that a layperson can learn what types of issues are important to the legal community?

Yes

Or does their bar accreditation require them to provide some sort of access requirement by the public?

No.

Most lawyers are employees and do not take commissions directly. Those that operate a legal business can decide which work to take or not take like any other business.

  • With respect to the final part of this answer: In many nations, if the Government is going to charge you with a criminal act, they must provide an attorney if you cannot procure the services of one yourself (Public Defender in the U.S.). While they are payed by the opposing party, they are being payed to work for you. They are not provided for in civil cases or if the prospective client can afford his own lawyer but does not want to pay said lawyer. – hszmv Jul 15 '19 at 17:46
  • @hszmv They aren't always paid for if you cannot afford one either. In some criminal cases where there is no jail time, the state will not pay for your attorney. For instance in Texas in class C misdemeanors. If there is no jail time, they won't do it. – mark b Jul 15 '19 at 20:16
  • @hszmv but they don’t “conscript” lawyers to work for you - those lawyers have chosen to be public defenders. – Dale M Jul 15 '19 at 21:05

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