Michael Bergmann, PILI Executive Director
Serving as the Executive Director of the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) since 2010, Michael provides the strategic oversight and direction for PILI's work to engage, inspire and empower those advancing equal access to justice. Under his leadership over the last decade, PILI has significantly expanded its reach and impact by building on its nearly 45 year legacy and becoming a statewide organization. Michael has overseen the growth of PILI's Law Student Internship Program, both in terms of the number of Interns funded and in the amount of the stipend provided to Interns. He has led PILI’s efforts in the development of innovative pro bono committees at the judicial circuit level across Illinois and the expansion of PILI's work into providing direct services through a statewide network of pro bono volunteers. During his tenure, PILI has also seen a significant increase in the financial support PILI receives across all funding sources. Michael originally joined PILI in 2006, serving as Director of Programs before becoming the Executive Director.
Michael is a frequent speaker on issues relating to legal aid, pro bono and public interest law, including the Illinois Legal Advocates Conference, the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference, the ABA Young Lawyers Division, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association Annual Conference, the Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair, the NALP Annual Education Conference and the National Pro Bono Conference of Canada.
Michael serves on the Dean's Council for the DePaul University College of Law, where he has also taught as an Adjunct Professor. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at North Park University. Michael also serves on the Advisory Board of the Chicago Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society. Michael previously served as a Commissioner on the City of Evanston's Human Relations Commission. During his tenure at PILI, Michael has also handled pro bono matters through Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing and the National Immigrant Justice Center.
An active member of the American Bar Association (ABA), Michael is currently serving in the ABA's House of Delegates, and on the ABA Nominating Committee and the Standing Committee on Membership. He previously served on the ABA Task Force on Legal Needs Arising Out of the 2020 Pandemic. He is a past chair of the following ABA entities: the Section Officers Conference (SOC), the Judicial Division, the Lawyers Conference of the Judicial Division and the Young Lawyers Division. Michael is also a member of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) where he serves on and is a past chair of the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and serves on the Bench & Bar Section Council as its vice chair, the Special Committee on the Rural Practice Initiative and the ISBA Assembly. He is also a member of the Chicago Bar Association, most recently having served as Chair of the Continuing Legal Education Committee.
Frequently recognized for his contributions to the bar and the public, Michael was named one of "40 Under 40 Illinois Attorneys to Watch" in 2013 by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Michael was the recipient of the 2011 Young Alumni Merit Award from The Catholic University of America. He was also the 2007 recipient of both the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from DePaul University College of Law and the Illinois State Bar Association Young Lawyer of the Year Award. Michael was also the 2005 recipient of the Kimball and Karen Anderson Public Interest Law Fellowship from The Chicago Bar Foundation.
Michael attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Politics. He received his Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law. Prior to joining PILI, he served as the Guardian Ad Litem Program Director for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. Before and during law school, Michael was a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. He is admitted to the practice of law in the State of Illinois, and before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Supreme Court of the United States.