What Do PILI Interns & Fellows Have to Say About Their Experience?

In the Summer of 2014, 44 Interns and 65 Fellows served over 37,000 hours at participating agencies across the state of Illinois and the country. Read what the Interns & Fellows have to say about the impact that service has had on them.

  • This summer has been one of the most enlightening of my life.  I think the most important learning experience I have had during my Internship is that it is so incredibly important to advocate for people who may not have the power to advocate for themselves.
  • It’s a rewarding experience being able to work on what you desire to do for the rest of your life. I’ve felt inclined to pursue a career in immigration law, and it’s not until now that I’ve been able to really experience what that was all about.
  • This Internship has given me invaluable insight into the need for legal services among America’s most disenfranchised populations. Working at my Internship has solidified my desire to work at the intersection of health, law, and poverty. I have been moved by our clients’ stories and the incredibly meaningful legal and legislative advocacy we are able to provide. I am so grateful for this exposure and know that this PILI internship will serve me well as I progress in my legal education and throughout my career.
  • Doing a PILI Graduate Fellowship while studying for the bar can be quite stressful to manage, but it was such a boost of confidence to help someone through a real life struggle. The bar can make you feel like you do not know anything, but my PILI Fellowship reminds me that I do have some expertise and can actually help people with their legal needs.
  • Meeting with clients in person to hear their stories and find a way to help each of them has been very rewarding. My work this summer has inspired a fellowship proposal to continue working with my agency.
  • The most rewarding aspect of this experience has been seeing how the individual tasks I complete contribute to the bigger case. I am not just assigned discrete tasks, but rather able to take responsibility for the case as a whole and see how each piece of the puzzle contributes to the larger goal. In addition, I have developed trust and rapport with the clients. Of course, my supervisor has been there every step of the way if I have questions or am unsure of something. I think that I have learned more in the past month I’ve been working as a PILI Intern than I did in an entire year of law school.
  • Working with my agency has affirmed my decision to have a career in public interest. I’ve been provided with a truly hands-on experience, that is balanced with an immense amount of support and guidance from very skilled attorneys. My agency provides Interns with the ability to take a case from intake to in front of the judge, and that process has provided me with, not only an exception learning environment, but also the ability to develop a real relationship with the clients I serve. Over the summer I have seen clients that are going through some of the darkest times of their life. However, my agency and the training I have received has given me the tools to take action and foster real change in their lives.
  • I have discovered that I love doing subsidized housing legal aid because it allows me to work with such a broad range of people. The work is very satisfying and meaningful because for someone getting evicted from public or subsidized housing, the difference between having legal representation or not often means the difference between staying housed or becoming homeless.
  • At first, I was terrified, because I felt like I didn’t know how to do anything. The clients I began working with were looking for assistance and I was constantly afraid that I would give them the wrong information or might make a mistake with their case. However, as the summer progressed I became more comfortable and learned a lot about being an attorney – not only in terms of the law but also in terms of how to conduct myself with clients.
  • I assisted with a guardianship for a grandmother whose daughter had passed away from AIDS. It was pretty gratifying to see her face when the judge granted her guardianship of her grandsons. It seemed like a giant weight had been lifted from her shoulders, and I was happy to know that I’d had a hand in relieving her of that stress. This is just one of many experiences I’ve had thus far this summer that have reminded me of just why I want to be an attorney. I really enjoy helping to make people’s lives easier.

Learn more about the Law Student Internship Program and the Graduate Fellowship Program.