Public Interest Law Initiative

2015 Distinguished PILI Intern Alumni Award: Cynthia Cornelius

Posted on: January 5, 2016

Cynthia CorneliusCynthia was a PILI Law Student Intern at Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) in 2011. Having previously volunteered at homeless shelters while a student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Cynthia saw the opportunity to expand the expungement services provided by CGLA to serve additional clients. She recognized that many individuals with criminal records come up against barriers to employment and affordable housing, and wanted to work to mitigate the impact of criminal records in Chicago’s homeless population. First as a PILI Intern, then as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, she has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to help homeless individuals expunge their criminal records and obtain housing and jobs.

During her Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Cynthia recruited law students, attorneys and other volunteers to form the CGLA Criminal Records Corps (CRC). She supervised CRC’s handling of criminal records services for 766 clients, which included research and analysis of criminal records, reviewing results with clients, and providing information on eligibility for various forms of relief, while she herself represented 65 clients in court and administrative proceedings.

Now the Assistant Director of Legal Programs at CGLA, Cynthia has already had a tremendous impact in expanding legal services for a vulnerable and underserved population. She also inspires her volunteers to cultivate their own lifelong commitment to public interest law and pro bono service.

“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.”

– Mary Bird, Director of Public Service Programs at Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Learn about the recipients of PILI’s other 2015 Awards »

Read more PILI Alumni Spotlights »

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