Public Interest Law Initiative

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Taylor Whitten, 2014 Fellow

Posted on: March 6, 2015

Whitten_TaylorPILI is delighted to welcome Taylor Whitten as the new Fellow Representative to PILI’s Alumni Network Leadership Council. A new associate at Foley & Lardner and one of three PILI Fellows sponsored by Foley in 2014, Taylor graduated with a joint degree from the University of Iowa College of Law and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health before starting her Fellowship at the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “My PILI Fellowship gave me a broad range of experiences both in the community and the courtroom,” Taylor recounts. “I worked on issues including discrimination in the workplace, voting rights, education reform, and hate crimes.”

Not from Chicago originally, Taylor believes that one of the most valuable aspects of PILI’s Fellowship Program was the exposure to important issues that affect Chicagoans. “It ingrained in me a sense of being part of a new community and showed me the powerful effect the law has to change people’s lives,” she explains. Taylor further says that she enjoyed PILI’s educational programing and all of the people she was able to work with through her placement.

Two experiences in particular stand out to Taylor from her summer as a PILI Fellow. One arose from a voting rights issue she worked on where she had the opportunity to attend a grassroots political meeting. “It was amazing to see the commitment of community members to affect change in their community, and they were so grateful for our presence and guidance,” she says. The other experience concerned a settlement conference for the settlement assistance program. “Going into the courtroom and seeing how all of the research I had conducted over the summer was able to affect this man’s life for the positive was truly amazing,” Taylor describes. “He seemed grateful just to be heard and recognized.”

Taylor wanted to serve on PILI’s Alumni Network Leadership Council because she wanted to continue to be involved in promoting justice in the Chicago community while working alongside others who shared this same passion. As she explains, “it is a great way to stay connected not only with PILI, but other individuals in the community committed to doing public interest work. Plus it’s fun!”

Taylor now works in healthcare and corporate transactions at Foley, as well as labor and employment, an area of law which her Fellowship at CLCCRUL helped her realize she enjoys. She also maintains her relationship with CLCCRUL and is currently working on a prisoner’s rights case with them. Overall, Taylor says she is grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as a PILI Fellow. “It felt like I was a part of justice in action and it made me certain that practicing law was not only a privilege, but an honor, a wonderful avocation that could truly affect people’s lives.”

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