There are a lot of areas of practice a lawyer could choose where he can make a huge different in an individual’s life. Virtually any area of direct one-on-one representation tends to have a huge impact. The legal system is all but impossible to navigate for non-attorneys, and so when someone needs help for himself or his family, he needs a lawyer to stand up for him.
Let me give you the example of my old firm’s kind of practice. If someone has been in a serious car accident or harmed in another way, he is someone who needs help. He has medical bills and other expenses he cannot pay. He can no longer work, he cannot support his family and he is looking at bankruptcy. He is depressed, and angry, and scared. That person needs an attorney to stand up for his rights. So while a lot of people don’t think of personal injury as an area where you are helping people, it is really is an area where you can help a lot of people on a daily basis.
When I first read your question, my immediate thought, of course, was, serve as a public defender. Those are people in the trenches helping others who need representation. These people need help.
Prosecutors stand up for society and for the innocent victims who have been injured by criminals.
Civil rights attorneys protect those who are being harmed because they are not treated equally in society, or because their rights have been violated. Civil rights attorneys also stand up for our Constitution.
Plaintiff employment attorneys help those who have been unjustly fired or discriminated against.
Debt attorneys help those who have had their rights violated under the fair credit (and other) acts. These people are frequently being abused by cruel phone calls and are terrified of the future.
Legal Aid attorneys are on the front line of working with people who are unable to afford attorneys in myriad areas. People who are facing eviction, for example.
Family law attorneys sometimes obtain protection from abuse orders and deal with domestic violence. They also work to protect children in custody cases.
In so many areas of practice someone is in pain and is suffering due to something that has happened (or even something that he might have caused in the case of public defenders.) And in each and every one of the areas I have listed (and others I have not) attorneys do their best to help these people move on with their lives, to protect their lives, and to (in some cases) keep them from becoming financially destitute.