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Highlights from PILI’s 2020 Graduate Fellowship Program Evaluation

Who they were:

This summer, 63 Graduate Fellows served 300 hours between graduation and joining the firm, together contributing 18,900 hours of legal services on behalf of thousands of low-income individuals and families.

  • 52% of the class were women
  • 43% identified as racially or ethnically diverse
  • 68% were from Illinois law schools
  • 11% identified as LGBT

What they did:

The most common practice areas include:

  • Family Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Children Law
  • Civil Rights
  • Housing Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Domestic Violence
  • Employment Law
  • Immigration
  • Public Benefits
  • Business Law
  • Taxes
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation
  • Health Law
  • Juvenile Law
  • Prisoner’s Rights

Direct Legal Services

This summer, 76% of PILI Fellows provided direct legal services to 381 clients. Of those clients,

  • 76% were people of color
  • 56% were women
  • 43% were people over 50
  • 12% were children
  • 12% were people with disabilities
  • 11% were people whose primary language was not English
  • 9% were immigrants
  • 7% were veterans
  • 2% identified as LGBTQ

Brief Legal Services

This summer, 41% of PILI Fellows provided brief

Legal services to 104 clients. Of those clients,

  • 65% were people of color
  • 63% were women
  • 33% were people over 50
  • 19% were people whose primary language was not English
  • 15% were immigrants
  • 13% were people with disabilities
  • 10% were children
  • 5% were veterans
  • 2% identified as LGBTQ

Other Legal Services

This summer, all Fellows provided other legal services, including

  • Legal & policy research or writing (59%)
  • Administrative work/legal support (44%)
  • Community outreach/education (24%)
  • Drafting or reviewing legislation (22%)
  • Class actions or impact litigations (20%)
  • Field investigations (12%)
  • Community Organizing (7%)

Overall feedback from Fellows:

Overall rating of PILI experience:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “very poor” and 5 being “very good,” Fellows rated the program a 4.7 overall, which is consistent with past years.

Recommending the Graduate Fellowship Program

100% of Fellows who responded said they would recommend the Graduate Fellowship program to others.

Quotes from 2020 Fellows:

It was a great learning experience and I will utilize the knowledge I have gained on business formation and how to work with clients to my law firm.

The PILI program is a great experience and will help build skills outside of those learned in law school or working in private law firms.

The practical experience I gained is unbeatable, and the work was fulfilling and meaningful. The program also helped me keep on track with bar prep and my schedule organized.

It was the only time in my legal career that I positively impacted a life. That feeling, apart from certain clinical experiences or pro bono work, simply doesn’t happen at a firm.

It is a very special opportunity to do meaningful public interest work while preparing for the bar and it helps you both focus better on bar study and make professional connections that you can then use to find pro bono opportunities once you start at a law firm.

I think it’s important to do this kind of work develop more connections with lawyers. These organizations need help and the work they do is crucial.

It was a great experience and I felt like a made an impact on clients’ lives.

My PILI fellowship was a terrific opportunity to learn how to work with clients and gave good insight into the different types of clients I might encounter as an attorney.

I am much more aware of how a variety of issues work on the ground level to impact low income people, people of color, and women especially. This fellowship has also made me aware of how much need there is for volunteer or subsidized legal work and how the people doing this work are generally overburdened and underappreciated.

Posted in Graduate Fellowship Program.