Public Interest Law Initiative

Alumni Spotlights

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Davina DiPaolo, 2019 Law Student Intern

“Justice means access and equality for all.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Lode, 2019 Graduate Fellow

“Justice is being able to be heard, to tell your story. It means having a seat at the table and being able to get to the place you need to be in order to have your story hear.” More »

Happy Valentine's Day from PILI Alumni

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PILI Alumni Spotlight: Nora Cygan, 2019 Law Student Intern

“Since my Internship has ended, I am more eager than ever to work hard to help clients achieve the best possible representation.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Shenna Johnson, 2019 Graduate Fellow

“I will ensure that pro bono is not an afterthought, but rather, a consistent component of my practice.” More »

PILI Welcomes Jessica Schneider as 2019-2020 Alumni Network Leadership Council Chair

"The PILI Alumni are more than a network, it’s a community of people supporting each other.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Maria Kutnick, 2004 PILI Intern

“I’m so thankful that I was selected as a PILI Intern. It was the impetus for my legal career.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Patricia Varona Garcia, 2018 Law Student Intern

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PILI Alumni Spotlight: Nidhi Narielwala, 2018 Graduate Fellow

"My PILI Fellowship was the perfect start to my career after law school. It gave me valuable insight into the hardships faced by indigent and minority communities when dealing with the judicial system.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Pilar G. Mendez, 2018 Law Student Intern

“I have focused my career thus far on people and worked on issues and policy areas aimed at improving access to care and closing the justice gap. Though I am still in school, my commitment to service is inherent in everything I do.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Irene Hickey Sullivan, 2018 Graduate Fellow

“Although I have only been an attorney for a few months, I have prioritized making pro bono service a consistent component of my practice." More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Sean Morales-Doyle

“I knew when I went to law school that I wanted to get involved in public interest work. I wasn’t sure what that meant or what I wanted to do. PILI gave me an opportunity to explore different opportunities.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Margaret Kamm, 2017 PILI Intern

“Knowing that my work impacts real people in need of legal assistance instilled in me a sense of responsibility that I will carry forward long after the end of the summer." More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Marlow Svatek, 2014 Law Student Intern & 2017 Graduate Fellow

“As lawyers, we represent an extremely privileged segment of society. With that privilege comes the responsibility to use our skills to better our communities and our world.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Andrea Augustinas, 2017 PILI Intern

“I came to law school knowing I wanted to practice public interest law, and that my career, however it took shape, was going to be committed to helping those who need help the most. That commitment has only been enhanced by the Internship experiences PILI has allowed me to have.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Kirsten Moran, 2017 Graduate Fellow

“I’m excited about becoming involved in other pro bono opportunities at Jones Day, and plan to continue public service advocacy in the Chicago community.” More »

2017 Distinguished PILI Fellow Alumni Award: Brij B. Patnaik

“Through his pro bono work, Brij demonstrates the highest ideals of our profession – service, fairness and justice. As a Jenner & Block lawyer, he epitomizes our core values of commitment to pro bono work and community service. We are privileged to call him our colleague.” More »

2017 Distinguished Intern Alumni Award: Susan L. DeCostanza

“Susan embodies what PILI preaches: A lifelong commitment to public service.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Ruth Lopez-McCarthy, 2007 & 2008 Law Student Intern

“The relationships I made as a PILI Intern and Alum have thoroughly enhanced my personal life and career as an attorney.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Karla Albite, 2015 Graduate Fellow

“I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of our job as lawyers and the corresponding commitment to public service that the profession requires.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Ritchey, 2004 Law Student Intern

“It was an eye opener to see how much power you can have with your license and how much help you can give to those less fortunate, sometimes without even leaving your office.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Paula Kim, 2005 Graduate Fellow

“Being a PILI Fellow while studying for the bar is one of the many reminders that no matter how busy you are, there is always time to serve the public interest." More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Megan Harkins, 2016 Law Student Intern

"It is our duty as future legal professionals to develop a commitment to service early and continue to inspire subsequent generations to do the same.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Rebecca Canary-King, 2016 Graduate Fellow

"As a new lawyer there are so many things I do not know. But this system gives me power, and as I learn, I can use it for good.” More »

2016 Distinguished Intern Alumni Award: Emily L. Seymore

“Emily is part of the next generation of lawyers who are not just talking about problems with our courts, but who is working to bring about systemic reform." More »

2016 Distinguished PILI Fellow Alumni Award: Kristen E. Hudson

"Kristen has a heart of gold and the tenacity of a tiger. A true believer in pro bono, she clearly has a lifetime commitment to it." More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Lindsey Schmeidler, 2016 Law Student Intern

“PILI has truly been a saving grace in giving me the financial ability to continue my lifelong commitment to public service.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: John Adams, 2016 Graduate Fellow

"Above all, PILI gives my legal practice a sense of purpose - to ensure equal access to justice and equitable outcomes to all.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Laurie Mikva, 1982 Law Student Intern

“I have found that my passions are working on justice gap issues. I feel very lucky to have been able to spend my legal career in various public service endeavors.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Shawna Boothe, 2013 Graduate Fellow

“My commitment to service is at the center of my legal practice. I find my community service and pro bono work to be deeply rewarding, and a way to give my time and skills to improve the court system, the legal profession and the lives of the people we serve.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Cristina Headley, 2009 Law Student Intern

“PILI has provided me with an invaluable network of individuals who are committed to public service work and to fostering the commitment in the next generation of attorneys.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Kristen Hudson, 2003 Graduate Fellow

“My experience as a PILI Fellow has created my lasting belief that lawyers have the responsibility and duty to provide pro bono legal services to support the community’s needs.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Alberto M. Benítez, 1985 Law Student Intern

“To me, lawyers exist to help people who need help. The ‘haves’ are always going to do okay, but there are a lot of people who are in need. In our society, lawyers can play a critical role.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Lorie Chaiten, 1985 Graduate Fellow

“My experience as a PILI Fellow gave me the opportunity to see impact litigation in a legal services setting first hand. Most importantly, it introduced me to some of the leading social justice litigators in Chicago.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Jenna Silver, 2015 Law Student Intern

“I loved being surrounded by so many people who care deeply about the greater good.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Brian Davis, 2015 Graduate Fellow

“My PILI Graduate Fellowship helped me develop a relationship with a legal aid organization that has given me a platform to continue investing my time and making a difference in my community.” More »

2015 Distinguished PILI Intern Alumni Award: Cynthia Cornelius

“Cynthia is making a significant contribution to developing a new generation of future lawyers who understand their responsibility to extend legal services to some of our most vulnerable members of society and to do so with a generous heart.” More »

2015 Distinguished PILI Fellow Alumni Award: Jordan Heinz

“Jordan treats each pro bono client as special. He connects with his clients and does his very best for them. Jordan is, without a doubt, the kindest, most sincere, dedicated PILl Alumnus doing pro bono work today.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Amanda Walsh, 2015 Law Student Intern

“In five, ten, fifteen years and beyond, I plan to continue serving and fighting for this vulnerable population and I am so thankful to PILI for helping me start my career.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Schultes, 2015 PILI Graduate Fellow

“I can say with certainty that my experience as a PILI has had a positive impact on my law school experience, and on my choices about where to work upon graduation." More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: April Faith-Slaker, 2006 Law Student Intern

“It was very humbling to be put in the position where people were looking to me for help, and having the responsibility to then figure out how I could best help them.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Jajah Wu, 2010 Graduate Fellow

“The work I did through my PILI Fellowship gave me the tools to start off on the right foot in my legal career. More importantly, my work as a PILI gave me an internal compass, and a sense that I was truly making a difference in the lives of the children I served.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Colleen Bisher-Fry, 2009 Law Student Intern

"Interning at CGLA was my first opportunity to be in court, standing before the bench, asking for dates and arguing motions.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Cara Hendrickson, 2001 Graduate Fellow

“PILI is a very good model for cooperation between the private bar and the public interest, and I’ve drawn on that model in the rest of my career.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Anita Weinberg, 1984 Intern

“My PILI Internship introduced me to a large network of lawyers committed to public interest law, I’m extremely proud to be a part of this network and community.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Lyman Welch, 1993 Graduate Fellow

“PILI let me experience how public interest lawyers make the world a better place and encouraged me to devote my career to public interest law to protect the environment.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Liz Tracy, 2014 Intern

“Because of PILI, I was able to make a meaningful impact in the lives of families with children with disabilities, obtain practical experience in education law, and meet accomplished attorneys, judges, and future attorneys.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Taylor Whitten, 2014 Fellow

“It felt like I was a part of justice in action and it made me certain that practicing law was not only a privilege, but an honor, a wonderful avocation that could truly affect people's lives.” More »

2014 Fellow Alumni Award: Andrew Vail

Andrew co-chairs Jenner & Block’s Pro Bono Committee, and has dedicated more than 5,000 hours to pro bono matters, including work on several high-profile wrongful conviction cases. More »

2014 PILI Intern Alumni Award: Matthew Jenkins

Matt handles and tries complex, significant and high-profile cases, and he is proud of the work he does on behalf of those clients. He is equally as proud of his cases that don’t make headlines, involving those often without a voice and without access to quality legal representation. More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Kyle Shires, 2014 PILI Fellow

"The PILI Fellowship was an amazing learning experience for me,” he states. “I wanted to help ensure that future Fellows had an experience similar to mine. I couldn’t think of a better way to stay involved than service as the Fellow Representative.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Militza Pagán, 2014 Intern

During her PILI Internship at BPI last summer, Militza worked primarily in their Public Housing and Political Reform departments. “I enjoyed the type of work that I did and the opportunities to learn about ways that lawyers can play a role in developing anti-poverty policies,” she said. More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Betsy Shuman-Moore, 1981 PILI Intern

Dedicated to the public interest from the start, Betsy served for seven years as a staff attorney and legal director for the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities – the same organization where she completed her PILI Internship in 1981, before joining the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights where she now directs the Bias Violence and Fair Housing Projects. More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Charles P. Golbert, 1990 Fellow

As the Deputy Public Guardian in charge of the adult guardianship division of the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, Charles Golbert has made public service a focal-point of his career for the past 23 years. Charles credits his PILI Fellowship for introducing him to a career in public interest law. “It’s fair to say that I owe my career to PILI,” he states. More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Mark Grossmann, 1997 Fellow

“There are different ways to measure success. We always think of financial measures, but fulfillment is important too. Doing pro bono work is what helps me feel fulfilled as a lawyer.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Cheryl Lawrence, 2007 Intern

“It is truly an honor to work with great people and know that many of our most vulnerable neighbors here in Chicago, who would otherwise be at great risk of homelessness, are now on a better path because of the services we provide.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth Lewis, 2006 Fellow

"My Fellowship made it quite clear to me that pro bono is an essential component of my day to day life and that it is possible to balance pro bono in an otherwise busy schedule." More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Mario Sullivan, 2004 Intern

“I think it is important that everyone get involved and help end bullying, but I believe lawyers are in the best position to make a difference. Our profession has a history of making a difference and changing the nation for the better of all its people. The legal profession needs to take the next step in ending bullying.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Emily Coffey, 2013 Intern Representative

“Little justice is available for tenants who are often living in some of the worst conditions in Chicago. Working with these tenants to get relocation assistance or negotiating with banks so that they can stay in their apartments and get the necessary repairs done has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had at LCBH.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Catie Cottle, 2013 Fellow Representative

“My short time as a PILI Fellow made me realize that public interest work is essential to my future career satisfaction.” More »

2013 PILI Fellow Alumni Award: Max Stein

The 2013 recipient of PILI's Distinguished Fellow Alumni Award is Max Stein. Max was a 2001 PILI Fellow at the Shriver Center and is now at Boodell & Domanskis. He has an active pro bono practice and serves as the president of the board of directors for the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. More »

2013 PILI Intern Alumni Award: Marjie Nielsen

The 2013 recipient of PILI's Distinguished Intern Alumni Award is Marjie Nielsen, 2001 PILI Intern, who now works at the Chicago Legal Clinic. Marjie Nielsen has exhibited an unwavering dedication to serving the underserved throughout her legal career. More »

Alumni Spotlight: Marc Katz, 2009 PILI Fellow

Marc Katz leads the Alumni Service Team of PILI’s Alumni Network Leadership Council. He served as a PILI Fellow in 2009 at the MacArthur Justice Center of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law. More »

Alumni Spotlight: Emily Seymore, 2009 PILI Intern

Emily Seymore is the leader of the Alumni Fundraising Team of the PILI Alumni Network Leadership Council and was an Intern at LAF working on their their Public Benefits Hotline. More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Patrick Gallagher, 2007 Fellow

“Working with the people at HDA showed me that diligent caring lawyers can have an enormous positive impact on the lives of many people and that many lawyers really do love their jobs. I also have enjoyed the opportunity to meet the many dedicated and talented lawyers affiliated with PILI.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Johnny Frevert, 2010 Intern

“I decided to move to Chicago and practice law in Illinois for the very reason that there are so many gifted attorneys committed to the goal of making sure that everyone has access to the law and not just those who could afford a retainer agreement.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Fleischmann, 1998 Intern

“Working as a PILI Intern was an overall very positive experience that encouraged me to continue in public interest. It also exposed me to a different type of public interest work than I had previously experienced, so it showed me the diversity of choices available in the public interest legal world.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Dykeman, 2004 Fellow

“Not only was it an incredible experience for me as a lawyer, as I was able to do a direct examination and the closing argument, it was also incredibly personally rewarding to assist a family in turmoil with such a difficult matter.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Katie Deibert, 2004 Fellow

“I believe an important part of being a lawyer is protecting the rights and interests of those who often do not have the resources to be heard. As a law student I participated in pro bono activities and worked with asylum seekers and refugees through my school’s immigration clinic. In private practice I have represented an asylum applicant and also worked on financing supportive housing projects.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Susan DeCostanza, 2007 Intern

“My fondest memory from participation in the PILI programs is generally the relationships that I built. It was inspiring to work with dedicated attorneys and I have also kept in touch with the other law students with whom I interned.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Kathy Clark, 1997 Intern

At our 2011 Annual Awards Luncheon PILI presented a Distinguished Alumni Award to Kathleen K. Clark, Executive Director of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, who served as a PILI Intern in the spring and fall of 1997 at the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU and at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. More »

PILI Alumni Spotlights: Jean Choi, 1992 Intern

“The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee opened my eyes that I could be an advocate in so many ways, that I could change the landscape of the law. You do not have to be passive when you see something is unjust, you can be an advocate for change in a meaningful way. It just clicked with me.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Honorable Edmond Chang, 1994 Fellow

In December 2010, the Senate unanimously confirmed Edmond Chang as a United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. Judge Chang began service on the court in early January 2011, and was at that time the youngest federal judge in the nation. More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Adela Carlin, 1999 Intern

The PILI Internship experience gave me an opportunity to see and hear about passionate advocates for social justice about their experiences. More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Nichole Cain, 2005 PILI Intern

“My PILI Internship solidified my inclinations that I ultimately wanted to be a public interest attorney. It was my first experience actually interacting with clients, researching issues for public interest legislation, and witnessing a large class action.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Paul Brown, 1992 Fellow

Paul says that "because of my positive PILI Fellowship experiences, when I entered private practice I did quite a bit of pro bono work at Kirkland, including the extended representation of a client in a multi-year prisoner civil rights case and have continued doing pro bono as an in-house lawyer." More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Barbara R. Barreno, 2011 Fellow

“From the first day of my Fellowship, I was given a great amount of responsibility and had access to clients so I could immediately apply my skills to the organization's cases.” More »

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Jody Adler, 1979 Intern

“Working for a firm or a corporation was not why I went to law school. I was one of those idealistic people who went to law school to change the world, or at least a tiny part of it.” More »

Alumni Spotlight: Max Stein, 2001 PILI Fellow

“I began going to the PILI luncheons with my grandfather, Hubert Will, a federal judge here in Chicago, and my mother, Nikki Will Stein who later became a member of the PILI Board, before I even went to law school.” More »

Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Schneider, 2009 PILI Intern

“I wanted to use that experience to make connections to the public interest law world in Chicago. My PILI internship did just that.” Most importantly, says Jessica, “I learned how to be a compassionate attorney working to address those issues that affect so many in our society.” More »

Read More Alumni Spotlights »



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