Public Interest Law Initiative

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Emily Coffey, 2013 Intern Representative

Posted on: January 29, 2014

coffey headshotEmily Coffey is the newest Intern Representative on PILI’s Board of Directors, and perhaps also the first to hold that position while simultaneously serving as a PILI Intern. A 3L at Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, Emily did her first PILI Internship in the summer of 2013 at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. She decided to apply to serve as a Representative on PILI’s Board to stay involved with PILI and to continue meeting and working with Chicago’s public interest leaders. Now, in her last semester of law school, Emily is doing another PILI Internship, this one at CARPLS. Emily also worked at CARPLS before she went to law school on their Homeless Prevention Program and at their Domestic Relations Desk. Emily’s second PILI Internship rounds out a very public interest-focused law school career: in addition to these two Internships with PILI, she also served as a legal extern at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, a Coles Fellow at the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and a Student Attorney and a Policy Advocate in Loyola’s Health Justice Project. She is a board member for the Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, having previously served as the student representative to their Chicago Chapter, and she is a member of the Associate Board of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

As a PILI Intern at LCBH last summer, Emily participated in all aspects of tenant advocacy. She represented tenants facing eviction in the private rental market and tenants living in foreclosed buildings, and she also worked at the Tenants in Foreclosure Help Desk and drafted pleadings and other documents for tenants, including motions to dismiss, settlement agreements, and motions to intervene in condemnation cases. Emily says that her favorite part of this Internship was getting the opportunity to work directly with tenants. “Little justice is available for tenants who are often living in some of the worst conditions in Chicago,” she explains. “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.”

One case in particular stood out for Emily: the client was a large family whose landlord had sold the building. The family wanted to move, but was unable to find a place in their community in their price range on the short timeline they were given. Without resources to advocate for themselves, the family turned to LCBH for help. “I was able to negotiate a settlement with the landlord, giving them sufficient time to move and avoiding an eviction being put on their record,” Emily recounts. Securing this settlement had a profound impact on the family and their quality of life. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with such a great advocacy organization that is working on important issues from all directions,” she said.

Now at CARPLS, Emily works at their Collection Desk, the Municipal Court Advice Desk, and on their hotline. She provides brief services to clients on the hotline in areas of divorce, landlord and tenant issues, and consumer law. Once she graduates this spring, she hopes to continue working in public interest law. For Emily, participating in PILI’s Internship Program was an obvious choice. “A great network of social justice minded attorneys with excellent summer programming, and receiving a summer stipend to boot?” she says. “Of course I would recommend it to anyone!”

Read more PILI Alumni Spotlights »

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