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PILI 2022 Theme: Take the Initiative

2022 marks the 45th Anniversary of PILI's founding. This year, we are going to focus on emulating the example of our founders, by taking the initiative and helping more people in need of civil legal aid.

Every year, tens of thousands of Illinoisans struggle to navigate the legal system due to a lack of financial resources. While there is a constitutional guarantee for legal representation in criminal matters, no such guarantee exists for civil matters. Those facing abuse, discrimination, divorce, eviction and other civil legal problems are left to sort through those issues alone. Through public interest law and pro bono service, the legal community plays a vital role in ensuring our legal system is fair and accessible for all by providing free legal help to those in need.

Through its programs, PILI is advancing equal access to justice by connecting members of the legal community with those in need of legal assistance.


In 1977, PILI’s founders wanted to engage more law students in public interest law. They took the initiative and created PILI’s Law Student Internship Program. Over the last year alone, 62 Interns helped 2,086 clients in need.

In 1983, they then wanted to connect incoming law firm associates with pro bono service early in their career. They took the initiative and created PILI’s Graduate Fellowship Program. Over the last year, 63 Fellows helped 520 clients in need.

In 1999, public interest law leaders wanted to encourage more pro bono work within the private bar. They took the initiative and created PILI’s Pro Bono Initiative. Now known as our Pro Bono Program, over the last year, 85 pro bono volunteers helped 196 clients in need and 214 volunteers answered 3,587 questions on Illinois Free legal Answers.

In 2011, pro bono leaders wanted to expand and enhance pro bono across Illinois. They took the initiative and expanded statewide by creating PILI’s Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees. Now, 11 Judicial Circuits have Pro Bono Committees covering 54 counties across the state and PILI’s training and CLEs regularly have over 700 attendees.

In 2022, it’s our turn to take the initiative. With your help, we can take action to ensure that Illinoisans across the state have access to necessary legal services. Find ways to get involved and support PILI here »

Check out our video introducing this year's theme below or on our YouTube channel.

SAVE THE DATE: PILI will be celebrating its 45th Anniversary throughout 2022 at a variety of events.

For more information about PILI's 45th Anniversary celebration or events during 2022, please contact PILI's Executive Director, Michael Bergmann, by email or at 312-832-5129.