Karla Albite was a 2015 PILI Fellow at Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA), and is now an associate at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago. She has a vibrant pro bono practice and feels that her Fellowship was a crucial part of preparing her for her legal career.
“It really is incredible how impactful my CGLA experience was in providing me with real-world legal skills,” Karla said. “The opportunity to be an attorney (filing papers, going to court, working with opposing counsel, learning the ins and outs of the court) while also being able to serve members of the Chicago community was an incomparable experience.”
Karla has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science & Economics from the University of Notre Dame, a Master’s of Education from Lipscomb University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law. Prior to law school, she worked as a community organizer, a Teach for America Corps member and advisor, and a middle school Language Arts teacher. As a law student, she interned for several judges, the Federal Public Defender’s Office and the state Public Defender’s Office’s Appellate Division in Florida, and was Editor in Chief of her school’s law review.
After graduation, she moved to Chicago for her PILI Fellowship where she worked in CGLA’s housing division. “My fondest memory at CGLA was telling a client positive news about their case,” she said. “The joy and relief in our clients’ voices when they realized that they would have a roof over their heads is something that I will never forget.”
Karla now works as a litigation associate at Sidley Austin and continues to do pro bono work, including § 1983 cases. She recently represented a veteran who had lost education benefits and is currently representing a prisoner litigant. Karla also participates with the Daley Center’s municipal court program where she assists self-represented litigants in small claims matters.
She believes that her experience at CGLA helped prepare her for her current legal work. “Once I started at my current law firm, I felt much more confident and prepared to be a lawyer than I would have been without the PILI Fellowship,” she said. “As law students we learn to think like lawyers, but the experience of actually being a lawyer is something that cannot be learned in class.”
Karla also stays connected with CGLA as a member of their Young Professionals Board and maintains committed to serving the public interest. “I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of our job as lawyers and the corresponding commitment to public service that the profession requires.”