Public Interest Law Initiative

About the Fellowship Program

PILI’s Graduate Fellowship Program places new associates from Chicago law firms at public interest law agencies in Illinois, where they are typically paid by their hiring firm to work for 300 hours between graduation and joining the firm.

PILI ensures quality supervision by experienced attorneys and provides extra educational, networking and advising opportunities. We are currently offering Fellowship placements at 60 participating agencies throughout Illinois. You can review the list of participating agencies online.

PILI Fellows have a competitive edge when they start at their firms. While studying for the bar, they develop lawyering skills, build professional networks, and gain real world experience outside of law school. PILI Fellows are also connected to pro bono from the very beginning of their careers, allowing them to maintain a pro bono practice after joining their firms.

Work Experience

PILI Fellows work on a wide and diverse range of issues depending on the agency where they
serve. In addition to direct client services, PILI Fellows also work on transactional matters such as policy development and analysis, advocacy, impact litigation and more.

Here’s a look at the kind of work PILI Fellows have done recently:

  • worked on a direct appeal for a client on death row;
  • assisted at an adult guardianship help desk, drafting temporary guardianship documents,
  • as well as wills, living wills and powers of attorney for low-income seniors;
  • helped incorporate new small businesses and nonprofit organizations; and
  • prepped cases for trial, facilitated plea agreements, and assisted with arraignments.

Learn more about PILI’s Participating Agencies, including position descriptions »

Advising

PILI offers the opportunity for Fellows to be placed with an advisor from PILI’s Board of Directors or Alumni Network for career guidance, networking inroads and a personal introduction to the Illinois legal community. This is a chance to get connected and start building your professional network from the beginning of your legal career.

Learn more about PILI’s Advising Program »

Education

As a PILI Intern, your education doesn’t just happen at your agency. PILI organizes a series of weekly educational seminars for Interns over the summer, covering a range of hard skills and substantive law topics related to public interest law and pro bono. We also discuss career development ideas for law students interested in public interest law. Additionally, each fall and spring, we host at least one educational program for school-year PILI Interns.

See a list of upcoming PILI educational and networking events »

Community

As a PILI Fellow, your education does not just happen at your agency. PILI organizes a series of weekly educational seminars for Fellows over the summer, covering a range of hard skills and substantive law topics related to public interest law and pro bono, as well as career development issues for new lawyers interested in pro bono.

Meet our current class of Interns and Fellows »

Learn more about the PILI Alumni Network »

What about the bar exam?

PILI Fellows regularly report that they have adequate time to study. In fact, many say that  their Fellowship experience adds a welcome structure to this bar study period. Agencies hosting PILI Fellows are flexible with Fellows’ schedules to ensure ample bar study time. PILI Fellows typically register for the afternoon or evening bar review class so they can work in the morning and attend PILI’s lunchtime educational programs too.

How to apply:

  1. Confirm that your law firm participates in the PILI Graduate Fellowship Program.
  2. Visit our website to read about the participating agencies and to see position descriptions for each agency.
  3. Apply to up to 10 agencies through our website starting on October 15th.
  4. Interview directly with the agencies. Agencies select from among their applicants who they want to interview and ultimately hire.
  5. Confirm your hire as a Graduate Fellow with PILI.

More on how to apply »

Law Firms Can Sponsor PILI Fellows:

Firms can benefit from their Fellows’ experience and training in law as well as their connections to public interest law agencies once they start at the firm. Participation also serves as an excellent recruitment tool, demonstrating your firm’s commitment to pro bono.

Learn more about sponsoring PILI Fellows and see a list of our current Graduate Fellow sponsors »

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