PILI Welcomes Camille Fleming to the Team

Camille joined PILI on September 19th as our Communications & Development Associate. She is responsible for managing all aspects of PILI’s communication efforts as well as supporting the organization’s fund development efforts and special events. Camille graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a double major in Psychology and Political Science. Recently, Camille received her Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Government Management from Roosevelt University. She has multiple years of experience in non-profit work with various organizations including an internship for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability working on a strategic research report on Higher Education funding in Illinois.

Camille can be reached by email or phone at 312-832-5126.

Meet the rest of the PILI staff here »

PILI Welcomes Jack Johlie to the Team

Jack joined PILI on September 12th as our Administrative Coordinator. He is responsible for providing administrative support for PILI’s operational and programmatic efforts. Jack graduated in June 2019 from DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media, with a major in Film and Television and a minor in Creative Writing. Since graduating, Jack had worked as an Administrative Assistant at Mathis Productions, producers of Judge Mathis, and other original programming.

Jack can be reached by email or phone at 312-832-5136.

Meet the rest of the PILI staff here »



With New Fiscal Year, PILI Funds More Interns and Increases Stipend

PILI began a new fiscal year on September 1st and in the budget adopted by its Board of Directors, PILI will fund the largest number of Law Student Interns in its history. The budget that was adopted also calls for an increase in the stipend for all PILI Law Student Interns in the year to come with an additional increase anticipated in the following year. PILI will grant over $347,000 to fund 65 Law Student Interns at 30 public interest law agencies across Illinois in the coming year.

For the school-year, PILI will fund 18 Law Student Interns, 9 per semester for 200 hours. The school-year Intern stipend was increased from $3,000 to $3,100. In summer 2023, PILI will fund 47 Interns and the stipend was increased from $6,000 to $6,200. Summer Interns work for 400 hours. The increase was spurred by both the current economic conditions but also in response to the July 1, 2022 increase in the minimum wage imposed by the City of Chicago. It is anticipated that the stipends will again be increased in the following year to $3,250 for school-year Interns and $6,500 for summer Interns. The last stipend increase by PILI was in 2017 and since that time, PILI has increased the number of Interns it funds by 10% and by 38% from 10 years ago.

“As PILI continues the celebration of its 45th anniversary, we are thrilled to redouble our commitment to the very program that led to PILI’s founding in 1977,” said PILI Executive Director Michael Bergmann. “We have continued to build on the legacy of our founders, ensuring that generations of law students have had the opportunity to gain invaluable practical experience while supporting the work of the Illinois public interest law community.”

PILI has operated its Law Student Internship Program since its founding in 1977, and it is the only program of its kind that attracts law students from across the country to serve at public interest law agencies in Illinois. Much more than just a funding source for stipends, PILI also ensures quality placements and supervision as well as offering robust educational programming and networking opportunities for its Interns. The program helps PILI’s participating public interest law agencies serve more clients and increase their impact while also helping law students develop their legal and client interaction skills, build their professional networks, and strengthen their commitment to public interest law and service. Nearly 4,500 former Law Student Interns and Graduate Fellows make up PILI’s Alumni Network to maintain a careerlong connection to PILI, one another and the public interest law community.

See a full list of agencies in Illinois approved to host PILI Interns here »

Learn more about PILI’s Law Student Internship Program »

Celebrate Pro Bono Week 2022 with PILI

Save the date for another Pro Bono Week celebration! Coordinated by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, Pro Bono Week is intended to inspire even greater pro bono participation by lawyers throughout the nation.

This initiative provides an opportunity for legal organizations across the country to collaboratively commemorate the vitally important contributions of America’s lawyers and to recruit and train the many additional volunteers required to meet the growing demand. The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service undertook this initiative to provide a format for showcasing the incredible difference that pro bono lawyers make to our nation, to our system of justice, to our communities and, most of all, to the clients they serve.

In 2022, Pro Bono Week will be celebrated from October 23-29 and PILI is organizing a variety of events across Illinois around and during that week. Information about these events is included below and we will continue to update this information over the coming weeks. If you have any questions, please contact either Managing Attorney Abigail Causer (Southern Region) or Managing Attorney Jessica Schneider (Northern Region).


Third Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono Luncheon

The Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host this event to commemorate Pro Bono Week, recognize the efforts local pro bono volunteers and celebrate its Pro Bono Service Award Recipient. The luncheon will be held on Tuesday, October 18th from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Leclaire Room at Lewis and Clark Community College with Illinois Supreme Court Justice David Overstreet as our special guest speaker.

First Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono CLE & Reception

The First Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host this CLE program and reception as part of the Pro Bono Week celebration to increase awareness about the need for pro bono legal services and how volunteers can help in the First Judicial Circuit. The Committee will also celebrate those who have performed pro bono work over the last year.


Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Spirit of Pro Bono Breakfast

The Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host this event to commemorate Pro Bono Week, recognize the commitment of local pro bono volunteers and celebrate the Pro Bono Services award recipient. Attendees will also have the opportunity to do some pro bono work at the event through Illinois Free Legal Answers.

Tenth Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono Reception

The Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host this event to commemorate Pro Bono Week, recognize the efforts of local pro bono volunteers and celebrate its Pro Bono Service Award Recipient. The reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Renaissance Room at the Janssen Law Center in Peoria with Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lisa Holder White as our special guest speaker.

Tuesday, OCTOBER 25TH

Fifth Judicial Circuit Celebrate Bono Week Dinner 

The Fifth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee hosts this event to commemorate Pro Bono Week, recognize the commitment of local pro bono volunteers and to celebrate the Pro Bono Service Award Recipients. The dinner will be held on Tuesday, October 25th at Mattoon Country Club from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with Illinois Supreme Court Justice David Overstreet as our special guest speaker.


Sixth Judicial Circuit CLE & Awards Presentation

The Sixth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will co-host this CLE program with the Champaign County Bar Association from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on on Thursday, October 27th in Savoy. The event will commemorate Pro Bono Week, recognize the commitment of local pro bono volunteers and celebrate the Community Legal Services Award recipient.

Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono Reception 

The Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, in partnership with the Rock Island County Bar Association, will host this event to commemorate Pro Bono Week and recognize the efforts of local pro bono volunteers whose work has helped to expand and enhance access to justice in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit. This event will be held on Thursday, October 27th beginning at 5:30 p.m. at The Axis Hotel in Moline.


Second Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono Virtual CLE

The Second Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host this virtual program to commemorate Pro Bono Week, recognize the commitment of local pro bono volunteers, provide CLE training and introduce attendees to a virtual pro bono opportunity. The program will explore the need for pro bono in the Second Judicial Circuit as well as provide an overview of Illinois Free Legal Answers – a virtual legal advice platform to help those in need of legal help – and guidance on how to answer frequently asked questions on the platform in the areas of expungement and sealing, wills and Powers of Attorney, and family law.


Twentieth Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono Breakfast

The Twentieth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee  will host this event to commemorate Pro Bono Week, recognize the commitment of local pro bono volunteers and celebrate the Land of Lincoln Pro Bono Award recipient. The breakfast event will be held from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. at the DoubleTree in Collinsville in conjunction with the Family Law CLE program being held on Friday, November 18th.

PILI Mourns the Passing of Life Director Donald Hilliker

PILI Life Director Donald Hilliker passed away on August 29, 2022 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Don joined PILI’s Board of Directors in 2006 on behalf of his then firm, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, and in 2015 was named as a Life Director in honor of his many years of service to PILI his careerlong commitment to public interest law and access to justice.

“The PILI Board of Directors and staff are saddened by the loss of Don and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. We are thankful for his many years of service to and support of PILI,” said Executive Director Michael Bergmann. “Don was a true champion of helping others in need and his commitment to that work had a huge impact on the lives of countless individuals and families.”

Don graduated from Loyola University of Chicago in 1966 and Northwestern University School of Law in 1969, where he was a member of the Law Review and graduated as a member of the Order of the Coif. As an attorney, Don retired from the practice of law in 20228 as a partner with McDermott Will & Emery. His commitment to helping others dates back to 1969 when Don was selected as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow to work full time on behalf of those living in poverty. He continued to serve the most vulnerable while in private practice. In the 1990s, Don was named the chair of the McDermott Will & Emery Pro Bono Committee. During his term he expanded the pro bono commitment of the firm to not only include legal services but to also engage the staff in providing help to those in need. During his last four years as a McDermott partner, Don spearheaded the development of this work internationally as the firm-wide Pro Bono & Community Service Partner. He encouraged the practice of outreach to each of the firm’s European offices. His efforts reinforced and broadened a commitment to service in the firm’s global culture and outreach. Don was an Adjunct Professor of Litigation Ethics at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law for many years.

PILI Alum Elizabeth Lewis succeeded Don as both McDermott’s Pro Bono & Community Service Partner and their representative on the PILI Board of Directors. She had this to say, “Don truly embodied the best ideals of the legal profession. He held himself to the highest standards, recognizing that it is imperative for lawyers to support those in need and give back to their communities. Over the course of his many years at McDermott Will & Emery, he instilled these same ideals in hundreds of younger lawyers by institutionalizing a robust pro bono program. For me personally, he was a great mentor and friend. I can’t overstate the impact that he had on my career or my desire to not just engage in pro bono myself but to lead others to do so. He will be greatly missed. ”

Don is survived by his wife, Carolyn (Ky) of 50 years, daughters Carrie F. Hilliker and Sarah D. Hilliker, granddaughters Cecilia Hilliker-Flick and Eva Kempf, grandson George Kempf and son-in-law Timothy Kempf.

Don’s obituary can be found here.

Happy New (Fiscal) Year!

September 1st marks the start of a new fiscal year at PILI. With the new fiscal year, we have new leadership for our Board of Directors, Alumni Network Leadership Council and Young Professionals Board.

We are so very grateful to the officers and members of each of these leadership groups that help us achieve our mission and support our work.

The Board of Directors is made up of representatives from a cross-section of the Illinois legal community and is the governing body responsible for the overall management of the organization. Members of the board come from law firms, corporations and law schools as well as representatives from our Participating Agencies at which we place PILI Law Student Interns and Fellows and foundations that support PILI. Click here to see the Board of Directors »


PILI’s Alumni Network is led by the Alumni Network Leadership Council, a group of PILI Alumni committed to staying connected to PILI and public interest law, and to giving back to their community. Click here to see the Alumni Network Leadership Council »





Established in 2017, PILI’s Young Professionals Board is a group dedicated to empowering PILI through fundraising and by serving as PILI’s ambassadors in their communities. Members are emerging leaders who have begun their professional careers in the past fifteen years. Click here to see the Young Professionals Board »

Guest Post: Looking Back at PILI’s Accomplishments Under Board President John J. Bourke

This is a guest post from outgoing PILI Board of Directors President, John J. Bourke.  John focuses on corporate transactions in the cyber risk, security and technology space. He has brought a wide range of corporate legal and business experience gained from Chicago based organizations including The Northern Trust Company, JPMorgan Chase predecessors First Chicago Corporation, First Chicago NBD, Bank One, Aon plc and RSM US LLP.

PILI Board Vice President Daniel Lange (L) presents 2020-2022 Board President John Bourke (R) with plaque to celebrate his leadership and service.

Over the past two years as President of PILI’s Board of Directors, it has been my honor to work with the Board of Directors and our staff team to take tremendous strides toward fulfilling PILI’s mission. Together, we:

  • Recently adopted PILI’s organizational budget that provides for both an increase in the stipend for our Law Student Interns as well as funds the largest number of Interns in our history.
  • Created three new Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees in the First, Second and Twenty-Third Judicial Circuits.
  • Expanded our Conflict of Interest Pro Bono Referral Panel from the Tenth Judicial Circuit to also include the Third and Sixth Judicial Circuits.
  • Reaffirmed our commitment to Illinois Fee Legal Answers as a resource for those in need of civil legal help, especially as a result of the many challenges of the pandemic, and expanded the site to include Illinois Free Legal Answers for Civil Appeals in partnership with the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.
  • Through all of PILI’s pro bono opportunities, we helped 7,066 clients in some way since September 1, 2020.
  • Established an annual theme for PILI to better explain and promote the important role it places engaging, inspiring and empowering those advancing equal access to justice. This included this year’s theme, “Take the Initiative.”
  • Established a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Working Group, which led to the creation of a new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer position on its Board of Directors and a Justice, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee.
  • Kicked off the celebration of PILI’s 45th Anniversary, which will culminate with the 45th Anniversary Awards Gala on December 1, 2022.

For the sake of brevity, the above are just some of our accomplishments.

I became involved with PILI after a chance elevator encounter with my former General Counsel who asked me to be the pro bono coordinator for Aon’s Global Law Department. My first task was to host the Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable for PILI at Aon, and I’d not previously been aware of PILI.

My favorite thing during my entire relationship with PILI has been to witness (and participate in) the dramatic growth during these challenging years.

The PILI team worked through a global financial crisis, pandemic, office relocation to name a few. This has been accomplished by the joint efforts of talented leadership from our esteemed Executive Director and the exceptional PILI Staff as well as our energetically engaged Board & Officers during this time, all the while watching PILI expand its reach and programs across the state, celebrating PILI’s 45th Anniversary while growing the base of financial supporters, which are the foundation for PILI’s future.

More than anything, I’ve loved meeting and working with so many “PILIans” over this time and have considered this to be the most FUN that I’ve had professionally, so far.

None of the accomplishments are mine, rather they result from the PILI founders’ great vision, and the hard work of all who have joined the cause!

Make a Donation to Support PILI

Dear friends and supporters:

2022 is PILI’s 45th anniversary, and we are celebrating with the theme “Take the Initiative!” Our founders envisioned a more equitable legal system with greater access to justice for all. We’re not only honoring that vision but doing more than ever to realize it with support from donors like you.

Our Law Student Internship Program began with PILI’s founding in 1977 and was followed by our Graduate Fellowship Program in 1983. These programs remain at the center of our work and provide the entryway for new generations of lawyers to learn about and commit to public interest law and pro bono service.

  • We’ve taken the initiative over the last year to fund 16 school-year Interns and 47 summer Interns, who generated an additional 22,000 hours of legal services. We also supported 52 Graduate Fellows who generated another 15,600 hours of legal services across Illinois.
  • More than just a funding source for our Interns, PILI provides significant educational, networking and service opportunities for our Interns and Fellows while ensuring high quality public interest law placements.
  • And, with nearly 4,500 former PILI Interns and Fellows in our Alumni Network, what begins in law school or just after continues on.

We’ve also taken the initiative to expand and enhance pro bono through our Pro Bono Program established in 1999, and now reaching across the state of Illinois.

  • From brief advice and limited scope representation to ongoing representation with a variety of civil legal issues, PILI has assisted 3,587 clients across Illinois with the help of 265 pro bono volunteers who have taken the initiative.
  • Through in-person and virtual Continuing Legal Education programming, PILI has provided 22 trainings for 604 attendees.
  • PILI partners with the Illinois legal community to fill gaps in the delivery of legal services through innovative projects and pro bono opportunities.

Your support will ensure that we can help more clients in need. “The advice I received today helped tremendously!” one of our recent clients told us. “I was able to appear before the judge to request assistance for my daughter. I’m very, very thankful.” You can also read more about our 45 years of impact here. Will you join us in taking the initiative by making a donation today? Visit www.pili.org/donate to donate.

Thank you for your support; we couldn’t do it without you!


Michael G. Bergmann
Executive Director

Thank You to the Outgoing Chair of our Young Professionals Board, Michael Whalen

PILI is grateful to Michael Whalen who has been serving as Chair of our Young Professionals Board for the last year and will conclude his term at the end of this month. Michael Whalen is an associate in the Litigation practice of Paul Hastings and his practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, internal corporate investigations, and white collar criminal defense. Prior to joining Paul Hastings, Michael clerked for the Honorable Thomas L. Ludington of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. We asked Michael a few questions about this involvement with PILI.

 What drew you to PILI and its mission?

I was initially drawn to PILI through other attorneys I knew who had had positive experiences with PILI’s Internship and Fellowship Programs.  I was impressed by those programs and how they empowered law students and young lawyers to seek out and volunteer with causes meaningful to them, and thus where they would have the biggest impact. On top of that, PILI’s focus on filling the most basic needs for legal aid and advice in Illinois, through its participation in IL-AFLAN (and, later, Illinois Free Legal Answers), was a huge draw for me.

How has your commitment to pro bono service played a role in your life and career?

Pro bono service has allowed me to remain in touch with areas of the legal system that most closely map onto the issues that directly affect our Illinois community, such as criminal justice, veterans issues, and support for the underserved and marginalized.  There are many groups out there that need competent legal counsel more than we lawyers often appreciate, and a commitment to pro bono service helps keep me in touch with that fact.

Why do you like serving on the Young Professionals Board?

I like how the YPB challenges its members to find ways to connect professional networks that are not always focused on the needs and gaps in our local legal community to a pro bono organization like PILI, which is acutely focused on these issues.  It is rewarding to make those connections and find unique ways to give back.