Public Interest Law Association Fellowships
What is the Public Interest Law Association?
Since our founding in 1993, the Public Interest Law Association (PILA) is the law student organization that provides support and community to students interested in public interest law careers at Duquesne Law School. We host networking events and information sessions on debt relief and fellowship opportunities. Our students also participate in pro bono activities each year. Finally, we spend a great deal of time fundraising to support our PILA Fellows.
Why are we raising money?
Each year, PILA raises money to provide fellowships for law students working in public interest organizations that provide direct client services to low-income people. PILA Fellowships are meant to cover the living expenses of fellows with unpaid public interest positions. These fellowships are crucial in ensuring that students are able to obtain the internship experiences necessary to pursue careers in public interest law. PILA Fellows also represent Duquesne Law School in their communities, bringing to life Duquesne’s mission of serving God by serving others.
What kinds of services do PILA Fellows provide?
PILA Fellows work in a variety of settings, such as civil legal aid organizations, public defender offices, and other nonprofits that provide free legal services.
Adrienne Box, a 2016 PILA Fellow, describes her experience as a PILA Fellow at the Allegheny County Office of Conflict Counsel: “I had a wonderful experience working in the Dependency Division, which represents children within the child welfare system. During my summer as a Law Clerk, I strengthened my legal research and writing skills, observed dependency proceedings in court, and accompanied the attorneys and the staff social worker on visits with clients in the community or at home. I participated in all facets of the clients’ cases, which included addressing their educational and health needs. This allowed me to experience firsthand what it is like to be a zealous advocate for every client. It was inspiring to learn from such passionate child advocates and I am grateful for all that I learned during my time at Conflict Counsel. This experience was invaluable and furthered my interest in pursuing a career as a public interest attorney.”
Stephanie Novak describes her experience as a 2017 PILA Fellow: “I was able to accept an unpaid internship with Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, which provides legal representation and guidance to underserved low and middle-income clients in order to solve complex environmental challenges. I worked directly with clients on permit appeals, zoning and land use challenges, permit enforcement, nuisance suits, and citizen suits. I gained experience drafting and editing pleadings, briefs, and motions and performing legal research on environmental laws.”
How does a PILA Fellowship impact a student?
PILA Fellows are often inspired by their experiences to continue serving marginalized communities after their fellowships have ended.
Taylor Frey, a 2017 PILA Fellow, explains how the PILA Fellowship has inspired her to pursue pro bono opportunities: “I was fortunate enough to intern with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project in their Pittsburgh office. In the future, I would like to donate my time to the PA Innocence Project and work pro bono on their behalf because I’ve seen the impact the organization has on the criminal justice system and in educating others on wrongful conviction. I am very grateful for the experiences I gained from the internship as well as the PILA Fellowship.”
Natalie Tupta, a 2017 PILA Fellow, says the PILA Fellowship is helping her pursue a public interest career. “I came to law school knowing I wanted to pursue a career serving others, and the PILA Fellowship supported my internship at The Bronx Defenders, which was an important step on my path towards my public interest career.”
Stephanie Novak, a 2017 PILA Fellow, explains how the PILA Fellowship is helping her accomplish her goal to transition from the role of an organizer to an advocate: “The experience encouraged me to play an active role in the Duquesne Law student community. I now serve as Vice President of the Environmental Law Society and Treasurer of the Public Interest Law Association. In these roles, I hope to empower my fellow classmates to live by our mission statement, Salus Populi Suprema Lex, or ‘the welfare of the people is the highest law.’ I will continue to explore potential career paths in public interest law. This field needs compassionate advocates who understand the intersectionality of different social issues such as poverty, racism, and environmental justice.”
Please donate and help us reach our goal of supporting our 2018 PILA Fellows. Thank you for your generous support.
If you are a current or future Duquesne Law School student and you are interested in learning more about PILA, please contact PILA President Natalie Tupta at firstname.lastname@example.org.