Public Interest Law Initiative

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Nidhi Narielwala, 2018 Graduate Fellow

Posted on: March 18, 2019

PILI is excited to welcome Nidhi Narielwala to our Alumni Network Leadership Council as the 2018 Graduate Fellow Alumni Representative. Each year, PILI appoints one Intern and one Fellow from the most recent class to serve on the council for a two-year term.

Nidhi is now a first-year associate at Baker McKenzie. She recently graduated from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and completed her PILI Graduate Fellowship at the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU of Illinois last summer. At the ACLU of Illinois, she worked on a wide range of projects from the welfare of LGBTQ youth to addressing police misconduct in Chicago to the Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project.

“My PILI Fellowship at the ACLU 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, including the lack of proper representation,” said Nidhi. “I have always been passionate about women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights, and this Fellowship gave me the opportunity to be directly involved in helping protect the constitutional rights of those communities.”

Before law school, Nidhi completed a year of service as a ninth grade Math and English tutor in Boston, Massachusetts at a high school that serves underprivileged communities.  As a law student, she was an Intern at the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School, a Summer Associate at Baker McKenzie and a Technology & Civil Liberties Extern at the ACLU of Northern California in San Francisco.

While at Washington University School of Law, Nidhi participated in a number of public interest law activities. She served as the Pro Bono Committee Chair on the school’s Public Service Advisory Board. She also taught First and Fourth Amendment law to high school students in inner-city St. Louis through a Teaching Fellowship with the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. As a part of her Fellowship, she coached a team of high school students at the National Marshall-Brennan Moot Court Competition. Nidhi also advocated on behalf of children involved in child protection order cases and custody cases through her school’s Children’s Rights Clinic. For her service throughout law school, she received a Public Interest Law Certificate and the Dean’s Public Service Award.

During her PILI Fellowship, Nidhi greatly appreciated the community of people she met at the ACLU of Illinois. She distinctly remembers her experience on June 27, 2018. On that day, Justice Kennedy announced his retirement, and the Supreme Court both upheld Trump’s third Muslim Travel Ban, and struck down California’s FACT Act, which required crisis pregnancy centers to post visible notices about other state-sponsored options for pregnancy, including abortion. “It was uplifting to be surrounded by people who, like me, were upset, but had not lost hope,” said Nidhi. “In that moment, I felt incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to help the ACLU’s fight for constitutional rights for all in the face of bigotry and hatred.”

Since her Fellowship, Nidhi has maintained an active pro bono practice. She is in the Privacy and Technology Transactions practice group and has had several pro bono opportunities that intersected with her practice area, such as helping a nonprofit with their data privacy compliance framework required under HIPAA. She also volunteers with Ladder Up assisting with free tax return preparations to low-income communities throughout Chicago. In addition to her role on PILI’s Alumni Network Leadership Council, Nidhi is also a member of the ACLU of Illinois’ Next Generation Society. “By maintaining my pro bono practice and actively participating in public interest law organizations, I can stay connected to the public service community and continue to help those in need.”

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