Public Interest Law Initiative

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Liz Tracy, 2014 Intern

Posted on: March 6, 2015

Liz_TracyLiz Tracy is the new Intern Representative to the PILI Alumni Network Leadership Council. A 2L at Chicago-Kent College of Law, she did her PILI Internship at Equip for Equality in their Special Education Legal Clinic where she worked on everything from daily client intakes to following up with families to educate them on their rights and effective self-advocacy skills. She additionally assisted four attorneys in two due process hearings, and in doing so contributed to briefs, drafted questions for direct examinations, prepared witnesses, and built relationships with clients. Liz says that her experience at Equip for Equality through PILI this summer was unparalleled. “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,” she says.

Liz was one of PILI’s 2014 Florence Miller Memorial Interns, meaning that funding for her Internship placement was made possible by a special endowment fund. Florence Miller, who passed away in 2008, was well-known in the internal trademark law community and a strong advocate for women in the profession.

One of the most memorable moments of the PILI Internship experience for Liz came at the end of the summer, when she negotiated an appropriate individualized education plan (IEP) for a child with a disability in Western Illinois. This child and her family were in great need of a strong advocate, and under the supervision of her mentor, Liz was able to represent this family and achieve a favorable outcome. “We put the services in place the student needed to be successful in school. The family was so grateful,” Liz recounts. “That was an empowering experience.”

In addition to the compelling client work, Liz also found PILI’s educational and social programing to be of benefit, and thought the Kick-off Luncheon at the beginning of the summer was particularly inspiring. “Sitting in a room full of law students, listening to everyone introduce themselves, where they were from, and where they were working that summer, I got the sense that we were all involved in something much larger than I’d previously perceived,” she explains. “I was now part of a network of people dedicated to improving access to justice for those in need in Illinois.” Liz says she knew from her interactions with PILI’s board, staff and Alumni over the summer that she wanted to stay connected to this network through service on the Alumni Council.

In addition to serving on PILI’s Alumni Council, Liz is also involved in a wide range of other volunteer activities. This past November, she co-coordinated the Kent Justice Foundation’s Wine Charity Event, an annual fundraiser at Chicago-Kent College of Law that raises money for stipends for law students who spend their summers doing unpaid public interest work. In addition, two years ago she and her sister started a Chicago Chapter of the national organization of Dining for Women. She explains that the Chicago Chapter now consists of a group of 70 young professional women who get together bimonthly to host a dinner party and donate to a nonprofit that supports women and girls. To date, they have raised nearly $5,000. Liz also sits on the Board of Directors of one of Chicago’s newest legal aid organizations, Community Activism Law Alliance. This organization provides free legal services to undocumented immigrants, day laborers, and sex workers through a community activism lawyering model.

With her second year of law school coming to a close this spring, Liz is already making plans for the future. “My dream job would be to go into business law, working specifically to advise closely held corporations and nonprofit startups, while maintaining a meaningful contribution to pro bono clients,” she says. The more immediate future, however, holds something else entirely, as Liz and her husband are expecting their first child in July. PILI congratulates Liz and welcomes her wholeheartedly to our Alumni Network Leadership Council!

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