PILI’s Graduate Fellowship Program places new associates from Chicago law firms at legal aid organizations, where they work 300 hours between graduation and starting at their firms. This is a unique opportunity for new associates to gain lawyering experience, build professional networks and engage in meaningful work while studying for the bar. PILI ensures quality supervision by experienced agency attorneys and provides Fellows with valuable educational, networking and mentoring opportunities.
Firms can benefit from their Fellows’ experience and training in law as well as their connections to legal service agencies once they start at the firm.
- Fellows gain experience going to court, talking with clients, working with a team, and solving problems.
- Firms use the Fellowship as a recruiting tool to attract top-notch lawyers who are committed to incorporating pro bono into their careers.
- Former PILI Fellows develop a long-term commitment to pro bono, and are often at the heart of their firm’s pro bono program once they join the firm.
PILI’s Graduate Fellowship Program is very flexible and can be adapted by the firm when implemented.
- Some firms sponsor only one Fellow per summer, while others sponsor as many as three dozen Fellows.
- Law firms may choose their own payment structure, with some firms paying their Fellows a lump sum stipend at either the start or end of the summer, and others choosing to pay their Fellows through regular firm payroll.
- The amount of the Fellowship stipend is also up to the law firms. The majority of participating law firms offer a simple stipend ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.
- Whatever the payment arrangement, all participating law firms pay their Fellows directly; the firms do not send a check to either PILI nor to the host agency. Therefore, these funds do not constitute a charitable contribution to a 501(c)3.
- PILI instructs all Fellows to run conflict checks throughout the course of the summer.
PILI ensures quality supervision and a valuable educational experience for our Fellows through regular and thorough evaluations. In addition to screening and evaluating placement agencies and facilitating the application process, PILI also provides educational, networking and advising opportunities for Fellows. Our weekly educational seminars in the summer cover substantive law topics, career development issues and skill building strategies related to pro bono and public interest law. Our Advising Program pairs Fellows with PILI Board Members or PILI Alumni for a personal introduction to the Illinois legal community. We also offer a range of social and networking opportunities throughout the summer.
If you have questions about the Graduate Fellowship Program, or would like start offering it to your incoming associates, please contact Executive Director Michael Bergmann by e-mail or by phone at 312-832-5129.