The Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) was founded in 1977 as the “Chicago Law Student Public Interest Internship Program.” The goal was to place law students at legal service agencies to improve their awareness of public interest law and increase legal services for the poor. The program started with 12 law student Interns earning a $1,000 summer stipend at four public interest agencies.
Now, 40 years later, PILI has not only grown the Internship Program to over 60 Interns, but has become a pro bono leader in the Illinois legal community. Through its four main programs – the Law Student Internship Program, Graduate Fellowship Program, Alumni Network and Pro Bono Initiative – PILI is working to build a legal community with a deeply rooted culture of service in Illinois.
PILI is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a series of special events, culminating in an Anniversary Awards Gala on November 30th. PILI Board Member Kimball Anderson of Winston & Strawn and his wife, Karen, a retired attorney, will be chairing that Gala and made a substantial anniversary donation of $25,000.
“Karen and I decided to chair the 40th Anniversary Awards Gala as a means of saying ‘thank you’ to everyone – the PILI Interns and Fellows, the PILI staff, and the PILI Board – for making PILI such a source of pride in the public interest community,” said Kimball. “PILI truly makes a difference in our communities throughout the State of Illinois. We hope that our leadership gift of $25,000 will inspire others to join us in saying ‘thanks.’”
Others have started to pledge 40th Anniversary gifts. PILI Board President Brad Lane of Brinks Gilson & Lione and his wife, Terri, have pledged $6,000 a year over the next five years to sponsor a summer Law Student Intern.
“New attorneys in legal aid and public interest are needed now, more than ever, to advocate for the legal rights of those of limited means,” said Brad. “We hope to make it possible for an aspiring attorney to not only help those who need assistance over a summer, but also to assist that person in determining how to become a difference maker in legal aid, public interest, or pro bono service to the community over the course of a professional career. We hope we can make a real and lasting impact for the better on our civil justice system in Illinois.”
Justice Sheila O’Brien (ret.) and her husband Judge Wayne Andersen (ret.) have also pledged $6,000 a year to support a summer PILI Intern for the next five years, echoing Brad’s desire to help law students find a career serving the public interest.
“PILI helps train young lawyers beyond the books – to see the real people involved in every case,” said retired Justice Sheila O’Brien. “It is an honor to help in PILI’s mission.”
PILI is grateful to these donors and to all those who have supported PILI’s mission over the last 40 years. We look forward to celebrating this year and to building a culture of service in the Illinois legal community for years to come.
To learn more, contact PILI Executive Director Michael Bergmann by email or 312-832-5129.