Public Interest Law Initiative

Report on PILI’s Summer 2019 Interns

Posted on: October 23, 2019

Who where they?

In summer 2019 there were 49 Law Student Interns:

  • 62% of the class identified as female
  • 46% identified as racially or ethnically diverse
  • 46% were from Illinois law schools
  • 18% identified as LGBTQ
  • 2% identified as a person with a disability

What did they do?

The most common practice areas include:

  • Children Law
  • Civil Rights
  • Consumer Law
  • Criminal
  • Disability
  • Domestic Violence
  • Employment
  • Family Law
  • Homelessness
  • Housing Law
  • Public Benefits

Direct Legal Services
This summer, 65% of PILI Interns provided direct legal services to 845 clients. Of those clients,

  • 69% were women
  • 55% were people of color
  • 29% were people over 50
  • 27% were people with disabilities
  • 16% were people whose primary language was not English
  • 10% were children
  • 10% identified as LGBTQ
  • 3% were veterans

Brief Legal Services
This summer, 67% of PILI Interns provided brief Legal services to 1257 clients. Of those clients,

  • 56% were women
  • 55% were people of color
  • 34% were people with disabilities
  • 22% were people over 50
  • 16% were people whose primary language was not English
  • 8% were children
  • 6% were veterans
  • 5% identified as LGBTQ

Other Legal Services
This summer, all of the Interns provided other legal services, including

  • Legal & policy research or writing (73%)
  • Administrative work/legal support (calling clients, client intake interviews, drafting memos/paperwork, data entry) (57%)
  • Community outreach/education (34%)
  • Drafting/reviewing legislation (19%)
  • Field investigations (15%)
  • Class actions or impact litigations (13%)
  • Community organizing (9%)

Educational Seminar Series
The summer started with a daylong PILI Intern & Fellow Orientation, attended by over 80 Interns and Fellows which included a variety of skills-based trainings including an overview of poverty in Illinois, writing for public interest attorneys and a panel of recent PILI Intern and Fellow Alumni. PILI also hosted 11 Educational Seminars, a tour of the Daley Center, co-sponsored 2 educational programs and organized 4 networking, social and service events.

The average Educational Seminar had 28 attendees and over 68 Chicago-area interns outside of PILI Interns and Fellows requested to be notified of weekly PILI events.

This summer’s seminars included a variety of substantive law and career development topics. The three top ranked seminars were Protecting Your Client from Violence and Harassment, Helping Ourselves to Help Others: Understanding and Addressing Vicarious Trauma and Serving with Excellence in Legal Aid: Understanding Implicit Bias.

“I enjoyed the public interest careers panel. Hearing public interest attorneys speak honestly on how difficult and rewarding public interest work can be was very helpful.”

– 2019 Summer Law Student Intern

Advising Program

38 Interns (78% of all Interns) participated in the PILI Advising Program. Overall, we had 78 Advisors to Interns and Fellows, including 15 Alumni Network Leadership Council Members and 39 PILI Board Members.

On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being “Very Good” Interns rated the Advising Program a 4.1.

“The advisor program was the best part of my PILI program. The mentorship gained was more valuable than I could have imagined, and an opportunity I will always be thankful for.”

– 2019 Summer Law Student Intern

Overall feedback from Interns:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “very poor” and 5 being “very good,” Interns rated the program a 4.8 overall.

100% of Interns who responded said they would recommend the Law Student Internship program to others.

Work Experience

Interns indicated the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the following statements regarding the quality of their Internship experience:

5 = Strongly Agree, 4 = Agree, 3 = Neutral, 2 = Disagree, 1 = Strongly Disagree

Average
The work I performed was challenging and stimulating. 4.5
I was given the opportunity to see a reasonable range of my agency’s workload. 4.5
I was provided levels of responsibility consistent with my ability throughout the semester. 4.4
I was satisfied with my agency’s efforts to provide me with an educational experience. 4.6
My agency helped me develop an understanding of the practice of public interest law. 4.6
I received enough training and assistance to understand the legal work asked of me. 4.6
Most of the work I was assigned was legal or law-related. 4.5

 

Funding:

35% of PILI Interns said they received funding from other sources. Those sources included:

  • 22% from family or private sources
  • 12% from their law school or law school foundation
Impact on Career

Interns indicated the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the following statements regarding the impact on their legal career:

5 = Strongly Agree, 4 = Agree, 3 = Neutral, 2 = Disagree, 1 = Strongly Disagree

Average
Even before doing this Internship, I had intended to pursue a career in public interest law. 4.4
As a result of my Internship, I am able to make a more informed decision about a career in public interest law. 4.5
As a result of my Internship, I am more likely to integrate public interest/pro bono law into my future practice. 4.4
As a result of my Internship, I am more likely to seek a job in public interest law. 4.2
As a result of my Internship, I have developed new legal skills. 4.6


Quotes from Interns

“PILI is a fantastic way to get exposed to the legal profession WHILE doing important public interest work WHILE getting paid. I am so thankful for this past summer and would definitely do a PILI Internship again.”

“This Internship will definitely help me enhance my skills in legal research and writing, understanding the needs of the community, and how to operate a nonprofit.”

“I really enjoy my experience! It is very challenging and every day is different. PILI has given me the opportunity to gain experience that puts me in direct contact with a vulnerable population that I care about and allows me to equip myself with a great network of like-minded individuals.”

“My PILI Internship has given me more hands on experience in working with clients and in the court system. Even if I do not end up in a position where I get to serve these populations as my main job, I will recognize the importance of pro-bono work and donating my resources to these organizations.”

“PILI has provided a fantastic network of Alumni. Additionally, the program and financial support gave me the opportunity to dive into the legal aid world in a way that I would not have been able to otherwise.”

“My PILI Internship was truly an amazing experience. My Internship affirmed my plans to work in public interest and taught me about some new options I had never thought of before.”

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