PILI is Hiring

Thank you for your interest in working at PILI! We have the following job openings available:

PILI is hiring an Administrative Coordinator. This is a full-time position to be based in PILI’s Chicago office, reporting to PILI’s Senior Manager of Operations & Administration. This team member will provide general administrative support for PILI’s day to day operations and programmatic efforts.

See the Administrative Coordinator Job Description »


PILI is hiring a Communications & Development Associate. This is a full-time position to be based in PILI’s Chicago office, reporting to PILI’s Senior Manager of Operations & Administration. This team member will be responsible for managing all aspects of PILI’s communications efforts as well as supporting the organization’s fund development efforts and special events.

See the Communications & Development Associate Job Description »


PILI is not currently accepting applications for any other position at this time.

PILI Welcomes Cassie Lorenz to the Team

Cassie joined PILI on August 8th as our Paralegal & Intake Specialist. She is responsible for supporting the work of PILI’s Pro Bono Program, conducting client intake interviews, maintaining client service data, and helping to support PILI’s statewide pro bono volunteers. Cassie graduated from Grand Valley State University in April 2022 with a double major with Honors in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Recently, Cassie served as a Legal Volunteer with the Legal Assistance Center in the Kent County Courthouse, assisting self-represented litigants with the legal process. Cassie also completed an internship with the City Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids, Michigan assisting attorneys in both the civil and criminal divisions.

Cassie can be reached by email or phone at 312-832-5131.

Meet the rest of the PILI staff here »

PILI Welcomes Denise Dempsey to the Team

On August 1st, PILI welcomed Denise Dempsey as its new Senior Manager for Operations & Administration. Denise’s responsibilities will include financial management & development, operations & administration, and human resources. Prior to joining PILI, Denise worked at the American Bar Association for over 14 years, most recently serving the Director of the Section Officers Conference. She also managed the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Legal Issues Arising from the Coronavirus Pandemic, chaired by James J. Sandman, President Emeritus of the Legal Services Corporation. Prior to that, she was a staff member with the ABA’s Judicial Division. Denise received her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a Concentration in International Law, and Minor in Italian from DePaul University.

Denise can be reached by email or phone at 312-832-5124.

Meet the rest of the PILI staff here »

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!

Sincerely,

Michael G. Bergmann
Executive Director

PILI Receives Renewed Foundation Support

PILI is most grateful to the following foundations for their renewed support of our work!

Chicago Bar Foundation

PILI is grateful to the Chicago Bar Foundation for renewing their grant of $24,000 to fund two school-year and three summer Internship stipends. The Chicago Bar Foundation brings the legal community together to improve access to justice for people in need and make the legal system more fair and efficient for everyone. Learn more about the CBF’s support of PILI’s Law Student Internship Program on their website.

Illinois Access to Justice

PILI is grateful or renewed and increased support from Illinois Access to Justice, a state-wide program that seeks to mitigate the devastating consequences of all forms of detention and incarceration and the resulting crippling effects on historically marginalized communities. This support in the amount of $79,000 is for PILI’s statewide Pro Bono Program.

Polk Bros. Foundation

The Polk Bros. Foundation is a longtime supporter of PILI and its Law Student Internship Program and we are grateful for their renewed funding of $55,000 which provides funding for several summer Law Student Interns, including the Nikki Will Stein Honorary Intern and the Polk Bros. Foundation Named Intern. Learn more about our Honorary, Memorial & Named Interns »

The support of these foundations and all of those who support the work of PILI is critical to helping us achieve our mission to engage, inspire and empower those who advance equal access to justice.

Make a Nomination for a PILI Award

Nominations are open for PILI awards to recognize attorneys and legal programs making outstanding contributions in pro bono and public interest law across the state of Illinois. For each award, you can either submit a self-nomination or nominate a colleague. Follow the links below to make your nomination!

PILI Annual Awards

Every year, PILI presents several awards to acknowledge lawyers and legal programs whose dedication to service, fairness, and justice inspires us and makes us proud. The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

  • The Distinguished Public Service Award honors an individual whose commitment to public interest work has shaped a career dedicated to service in Illinois.
  • The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize one former PILI Intern and one former PILI Fellow for outstanding contributions of public interest and/or pro bono work. Not sure if someone is PILI Alum? Email us to confirm.
  • The Pro Bono Initiative Award acknowledges a single entity for its significant pro bono work in Illinois.

These awards will be presented at PILI’s 45th Anniversary Awards Gala on Thursday, December 1, 2022.

See a list of past annual award recipients »

Submit a Nomination

Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee Awards

Five of the Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees are giving circuit-wide pro bono awards to one or more lawyers who have provided outstanding pro bono services to low-income individuals and charitable organizations in their respective judicial circuits. The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

These awards will be presented at each Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee’s Pro Bono Week event at the end of October. More details on Pro Bono Week 2022 events coming soon.

If you have questions about any of these awards, contact Michael Bergmann at 312-832-5129 or by email.

PILI Announces its 2022 Honorary, Memorial & Named Interns

This summer, 24 Law Student Interns hold Honorary, Memorial or Named Internship positions, which are created and funded by individuals and groups dedicated to promoting public interest law. We are grateful to the individuals and groups who make it possible for Interns to provide legal services for people, families and communities in need.

Our summer 2022 Honorary, Memorial or Named Internships include:

  • Alfred C. Tisdahl Memorial Intern
  • Chicago Bar Foundation Named Interns (3)
  • Christopher J. Horsch Memorial Intern
  • Florence Miller Memorial Interns (2)
  • Illinois State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Named Intern
  • Jerome Gilson Honorary Intern (funded by Crowell & Moring LLP)
  • Jerome Mirza Memorial Interns (2)
  • Justice Thomas L. Kilbride Honorary Intern (4 funded by Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois)
  • LAGBAC Named Interns (3)
  • Nikki Will Stein Honorary Intern (funded by Polk Bros. Foundation)
  • Justice Sheila O’Brien (Ret.) Named Intern
  • PILI Alumni Named Intern
  • Polk Bros. Foundation Named Intern
  • Roslyn C. Lieb Honorary Intern
  • Zurich North America Named Intern

Learn about our current Honorary, Memorial & Named Interns »

Learn more about supporting a Honorary, Memorial or Named Intern through PILI »

Celebrating Pride Month

June is Pride Month. We celebrate those members of the LGBTQ+ community who have contributed to our legal system and especially to access to justice initiatives. We are thrilled to spotlight three such individuals who also have a strong connection to PILI and our mission to engage, inspire and empower those advancing equal access to justice. They are Susan Curry, Jordan Heinz and Jaylin McClinton. We asked each of them the same questions to which their responses are below.


Susan Curry

Currently the Senior Director of Public Interest Law and Policy at the University of Chicago Law School, Susan is a member of the PILI Board of Directors. Prior to that, Susan served as PILI’s Executive Director. She began her legal career in Chicago as an associate of the law firm of Gardner, Carton & Douglas (n/k/a Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath). After moving to the nonprofit sector, she worked at several public interest law agencies including the Better Government Association, the Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission, and the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago (n/k/a Legal Council for Health Justice) and the Minnesota Justice Foundation.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Pride month, to me, is a time for celebration but also reflection. It’s an opportunity to rejoice in and with the LGBTQ+ community and all that we offer, but also to reflect on our own journeys and on all of the challenges we continue to face.

How has your identity informed you as a lawyer or in your legal career?

In my view, the need for Pride would not exist if queer people were freely accepted without prejudice. As a lesbian public interest lawyer, I have tried to work in positions that allow me to address these access to justice issues. Way back in the early 1990s, I served as the Legal Director, then the Executive Director of the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, helping the gay community come to grips with the legal issues triggered by their HIV status. Today, at the University of Chicago Law School, I have the opportunity to work with LGBTQ+ law students and their allies as they too seek to develop their own careers – careers with access to justice as their hallmark.

How do you see the connection between Pride Month, the legacy of the LGBTQ+ community in the field of law, and your personal experience as a lawyer and your connection to public interest law/pro bono?

Pride month is much more than an annual celebration and rainbow-themed parties. As with so many other moments in history, it was born of protests against oppressive forces that were seeking to silence or diminish our community. Our community’s lawyers and policymakers are uniquely positioned to fight this battle, whether through litigation or legislation or advocacy. Pride is a time for LGBTQ+ attorneys and allies to celebrate their successes but it’s a time to recognize Pride as a political event as well. Pride is a time to marshal our resources and line up against unjust systems, with lawyers at the lead.


Jordan Heinz

Jordan is currently Senior Counsel, Global Trademarks for Abbott. Previously, he was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Jordan is a “double PILI” having been both a PILI Law Student Intern and Graduate Fellow, both positions being at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. Jordan has been actively involved in PILI’s Alumni Network including having served as Chair of the Alumni Network Leadership Council. Jordan was a Fellow Representative on the PIIL Board of Directors and has also served on the boards of directors for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Lambda Legal and Legal Council for Health Justice. He has also maintained a robust pro bono caseload as a lawyer, including helping members of the LGBTQ+ community with their legal needs.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

To me, Pride Month means an opportunity to see the country’s support for my civil rights. Cities, states, companies, families, and friends turn out for parades, brunches, parties, and events recognizing LGBTQ civil rights. I can’t get enough of the Pride flags hanging out of windows, in store windows, and on parade floats – it energizes and inspires me for the year.

How has your identity informed you as a lawyer or in your legal career?

Being a gay man has certainly played a large role in my legal career, driving me to devote a substantial portion of my practice to LGBTQ civil rights cases. Working on marriage equality and transgender rights cases will always be a highlight of my career. We are incredibly fortunate as lawyers to be living and practicing during such a pivotal time in the LGBTQ civil rights movement. Now is the time to get involved and play a role in that movement, in whatever way you can.

How do you see the connection between Pride Month, the legacy of the LGBTQ+ community in the field of law, and your personal experience as a lawyer and your connection to public interest law/pro bono?

Pro bono service is a powerful avenue for getting involved in the LGBTQ civil rights movement. Whether it is representing a gay asylee, or representing a class of transgender prisoners, or working on LGBTQ-inclusive policies at your employer, pro bono service can create such a powerful impact on so many LGBTQ lives. Every year, Pride Month inspires me to do more.


Jaylin McClinton

Jaylin is a May 2022 graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law. He was a Spring 2021 PILI Law Student Intern at the ACLU of Illinois and currently serves as an Intern Representative to the PILI Alumni Network Leadership Council. Before law school, Jaylin joined the Obama Foundation as their first-ever Community Organizer tasked with building a strong, grassroots local community network. He also previously worked in the Obama Administration in the Office of Management and Administration and shortly thereafter for then-Illinois State Representative Juliana Stratton, now Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. He is currently a candidate for 5th District Cook County Commissioner.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Pride Month means a lot to me personally. First, it represents an act of resistance to the powers that be in an attempt for a community to simply be themselves. After all, the very first one was a riot. Second, Juneteenth is situated in the month, so when I think about that and the liberation of Black people, specifically, it makes me have a lot more pride for my race and sexuality. Despite all the adversity we face as a collective people, Black and LGBTQIA+ Americans continue to flourish as our authentic selves.

How has your identity informed you as a lawyer or in your legal career?

My identities as a Black, openly gay man have significantly informed my legal career to-date. Because of these identities, I am a better advocate and therefore a better lawyer. When I think about equity in our legal system, I am always thinking about how my lived experiences can influence and shape the rule of law, bending it more towards justice for those populations often underrepresented and misrepresented.

How do you see the connection between Pride Month, the legacy of the LGBTQ+ community in the field of law, and your personal experience as a lawyer and your connection to public interest law/pro bono?

For me personally, my desire has always been to mesh law, litigation, and public policy together for the common good. Through celebrating Pride Month, uplifting those in the LGBTQ+ community that have come before me, and working in spaces that live up to values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging all play an instrumental role in how I see the world. Public interest law and pro bono service are integral to that commitment.