Public Interest Law Initiative

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

Posted on: March 10, 2017

Rebecca Canary-King

PILI is excited to welcome Rebecca Canary-King to our Alumni Network Leadership Council as the 2016 Fellow Alumni Representative. PILI appoints one Intern and one Fellow every year from the most recent class to serve on the Council for a two-year term.

Becky is a first year associate at Schiff Hardin LLP. She graduated from the University of Chicago Law School last year and then did a PILI Graduate Fellowship at LAF. She said her favorite part was working with clients at the Juvenile Expungement Help Desk. “I was able to be at the end of their foray through the criminal justice system and mostly give them good news,” said Becky. “It was great to go home knowing I had done at least one tangible thing that day that had helped someone.”

As a Fellow, Becky was in the courtroom two to three times a week at clients’ expungement hearings, using her 711 license, and later her own license. “The day after I was sworn in as an attorney,” said Becky, “I was able to stand up in court and say ‘Rebecca Canary-King from LAF, for the petitioner.’ It felt pretty good!”

Becky valued these experiences and the client-interaction skills that she gained as a PILI Fellow. “I was able to develop crucial client communication skills that law school does not teach you,” said Becky. “Learning how to describe a process simply and clearly is a skill I will need for all clients I work with in my career.”

During her first year at the firm, she has already taken on pro bono cases through Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and maintains her relationships at LAF as a volunteer pro bono attorney. She also volunteered with the attorney network at O’Hare International Airport, an effort to aid detained refugees and other individuals.

“It has really struck me, especially this past month, how much power I have as an attorney,” Becky said. “It has been incredible how the attorney presence there has been a comfort to so many. I am holding on to that feeling. 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.”

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