Public Interest Law Initiative

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the PILI Law Student Internship Program?

PILI’s Law Student Internship Program connects law students with public interest law agencies in Illinois. Interns work 400 hours during the summer or 200 hours during the school year, with PILI ensuring quality supervision by experienced attorneys and providing supplemental educational, networking and mentoring opportunities. The result is an increase in the capacity of these legal service agencies to meet the needs of their low-income clients and an increase in the number of emerging lawyers connected and committed to public interest law. PILI currently offer Internship placements in Chicago, Alton, Champaign, Peoria and Rock Island, Illinois.

Please note: While all 28 of our participating agencies host summer Interns, only a limited number have been approved to host school-year Interns.

Learn more about PILI’s school-year Internship opportunities »

Why should I apply for a PILI Internship?

The PILI Law Student Internship Program is a unique opportunity to serve the needs of low-income legal aid clients under the supervision of staff attorneys at approved legal service agencies. PILI Interns gain hands-on, practical work experience providing legal services directly to clients or engaging in the tasks associated with advocacy, impact-litigation, policy development and analysis, or other related legal work. Interns are paid $5,500 for their work during the summer and school-year Interns are paid $2,500, less applicable taxes. Supplemental educational, networking and advising opportunities provided by PILI help PILI Interns enhance their legal education and build lasting connections to the Illinois public interest law community.

What type of work would I be doing as a PILI Intern?

PILI Interns work on a wide and diverse range of issues depending on the agency at which they are placed. There are currently 25 agencies in Illinois that are approved to participate in PILI’s Law Student Internship Program. These agencies cover the gamut in terms of the clients they serve, the legal issues they address and impact they have on the low-income and underrepresented of Illinois. Recent examples of the work performed by PILI Interns include: conducting client intakes at agencies, schools, shelters and clients homes; conducting site visits at state-operated institutions and nursing homes; representing clients in court for adoption and divorce cases; and staffing the Expungement Help Desk at the Daley Center.

See a full list of agencies hosting PILI Interns and Intern job descriptions »

Who can apply?

For the summer Internship Program, law students from any ABA accredited law school in the United States may apply. The school-year Internship Program is currently open only to students at law schools in the Chicago-area.

When do I apply?

The application process each semester will open up on the following days:

  • Summer: October 15th for 2Ls at 10:00 a.m. CST, December 1st at 10:00 a.m. CST for 1Ls (due to NALP restrictions)
  • Fall: August 1st at 10:00 a.m. CST
  • Spring: November 1st at 10:00 a.m. CST

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all agencies have completed their hiring. Please note that each agency supervisor handles hiring differently: some make hiring decisions early in the application period, while others wait until later in the application period. Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible to ensure the fullest consideration of their application and because the process is highly competitive.

How do I apply?

Prospective PILI Interns must apply directly through PILI’s website. Applicants will be able to apply to up to 10 agencies, with the ability to provide each agency with a distinct cover letter and resume. It is important to note that PILI does not make the final hiring decisions; rather, each agency selects the candidate best-suited to their needs.

How does PILI determine where it places Interns?

Every year, PILI’s Board of Directors approves the allocation of Interns to a limited number of public interest law agencies which then receive a grant from PILI to pay Intern stipends. Agencies approved for Interns are those with whom PILI has an existing relationship, where the agency has a proven track record of providing quality supervision and a valuable educational experience to the Intern. While 57 agencies have been approved to host PILI Graduate Fellows, currently only 25 agencies are approved to host PILI Law Student Interns. See the full list »

How will PILI support me as an Intern?

In addition to screening and evaluating placement agencies and facilitating the application process, PILI also provides educational, networking and advising opportunities for Interns. Our weekly summer Educational Seminar Series cover substantive law topics and career development issues relating to public interest law. Our Advising Program pairs Interns with PILI Board Members or Alumni for a personal introduction to the Illinois legal community. PILI also offer a range of social and networking opportunities as part of our Internship Program.

How will I be paid?

PILI makes grants directly to the host agency, and the agency is then responsible for paying their Interns directly. Interns will be paid by their agency as part of its regular payroll process.

Who can I contact to find out more about PILI?

Contact PILI Program Associate Brent Page by email or by phone at 312-832-5128.

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