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PILI Spotlight: New Board of Directors’ Alumni Representatives

PILI is excited to welcome Christopher Blythe and Ryan Ortiz to our Board of Directors as our new Law Student Intern and Graduate Fellow Alumni Representatives. Each year, PILI selects representatives from the most recent class of Interns and Fellows to serve on the board for a two-year term. Christopher is an Associate at Jenner & Block LLP and was a PILI Graduate Fellow with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. Ryan Ortiz is a 2L at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Law and was a PILI Law Student Intern with the Greater Chicago Legal Clinic, having had the distinction of being one of four Justice Thomas L. Kilbride Honorary Interns funded by Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois in 2022.

Christopher Blythe

Associate, Jenner & Block LLP
2022 Graduate Fellow

What have you been up to since your PILI Fellowship concluded?

I started working at Jenner & Block LLP, as an associate attorney after finishing my PILI Fellowship this past summer. Besides billable matters, I have been given a significant role on substantive issues for a pro bono case in the federal court. I have the initial primary responsibility to research and draft motions.

What was your favorite thing about being a PILI Fellow?

My favorite thing about being a PILI Fellow was the opportunity to take on substantive experiences in federal litigation for a cause I care about.
I also appreciated the training, skill-building opportunities, and feedback before even starting my firm job. It was a confidence booster for what is normally a stressful transitional period.

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

My commitment to service is what lead me in large part to become a lawyer. A lawyer serves their clients, the legal system, and the public. A lawyer is representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen. The State bestows upon a lawyer a license to practice as an attorney and counselor at law. Such a license comes with many privileges, but also corresponding responsibilities. As a newly admitted attorney, I swore an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of the office of attorney and counselor at law to the best of my ability. Among my responsibilities as an attorney is to use my training, experience, and skills to provide services in the public interest for which compensation may not be available. In other words, to devote my life and career to being an attorney is to devote my life and career to serving the public interest. My commitment to service was also reflected in my choice of law firm to start my career at: Jenner & Block. Jenner & Block has a storied history for public service. Pro bono is a core value of the firm. The firm’s core values (and the culture those values create) are what led me to Jenner.

Ryan Ortiz

2L, University of Illinois Chicago School of Law
2022 Law Student Intern

What have you been up to since your PILI Internship concluded?

Since the conclusion of my Summer 2022 PILI Internship, I have been taking on courses as a 2L at UIC Law. I served as a law clerk this past fall for the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian in their Juvenile Division and recently started as a law student volunteer with the Office of the Cook County Public Defender in their Juvenile Justice Division. Additionally, I remained involved with PILI after the conclusion of my Internship as an Intern Representative on PILI’s Board of Directors and a member of the Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

What was your favorite thing about being a PILI Intern?

My favorite thing about being a PILI Intern was the exposure to different ways to get involved and remain involved in the public interest community. Particularly, I enjoyed the Educational Series that PILI hosted each week during the summer to allow interns the opportunity to gain insight from a variety of professionals who do public interest work, including judges, public interest attorneys, big law attorneys, etc. I think PILI did a great job ensuring Interns felt welcomed not only during the summer,  but also as a PILI Alum at the conclusion of the Internship Program.

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

My commitment to service plays a vital role in my life and career as it is a priority in all that I do. In my life, I constantly find ways to remain involved in my community – whether that be through membership in various organizations or in a more individual capacity. For example, as mentorship is something I continuously benefit from, I always find ways to extend myself to others in the same capacity. In terms of my career, I have always had a passion to do work in the public sector. With that, I have continued to seek opportunities throughout my law school journey thus far, such as PILI, that would allow me to maintain my commitment to service through interning with public service based organizations and entities with hopes of beginning a career as a new attorney in the public sector.

Posted in Alumni, Alumni Spotlights, Board Member Spotlights, Fellow Alumni, Intern Alumni, News.