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Public Interest Law Foundation

The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) is a student-run organization that supports USF law students working in unpaid summer internships in the public interest/public sector and provides support to help them pursue careers in the public interest/public sector upon graduation. 

PILF is made up of USF law students, alumni, faculty, and friends devoted to public interest advocacy. PILF promotes its goals by fundraising and sponsoring public interest and community service events to educate students about the rewarding career possibilities in public interest law. PILF’s annual fundraising efforts directly support summer grants for law students with a demonstrated commitment to public interest who work in unpaid, full-time summer positions at local, national, and international public interest/public sector agencies, organizations, and firms.

The funding for these summer grants is raised through year-round contributions by members of the USF Law and greater legal community, as well as through events such as PILF's annual auction fundraiser.

PILF's Mission

  • Foster a community of law students interested in public interest work.
  • Educate students about job opportunities in the public interest sector and serve as a resource for job leads.
  • Raise money to support unpaid summer work in the public interest.
  • Encourage law students to volunteer in the community and help provide meaningful and appropriate opportunities for them to do so. 
  • Educate students about ways that private/firm attorneys can make meaningful contributions to the public interest. 
  • Instill a sense of community ownership, pride and responsibility that will motivate students and lawyers to make positive changes. 

PILF Auction

PILF holds an annual auction which raises funds to enable USF law students to commit to summer positions at organizations focused on addressing gaps in our justice system. This annual event brings together students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the legal community to support the next generation of public interest lawyers. Last year’s auction, plus matching funds contributed by the School of Law and money raised through generous donations, allowed PILF to provide twelve students with $4,000 grants to work in unpaid, full-time public interest positions in summer 2014.

The auction features vacation packages, spa retreats, sporting memorabilia, fine jewelry and more, donated by local and national businesses, local law firms and members of the USF community. The 2014 auction was held in conjunction with the School of Law’s Reunion Gala on Nov. 15, 2014.

Our fundraising efforts continue to be a way for faculty, alumni and other professionals to provide support to the dozens of law students working to address gaps in our justice system across the Bay Area, California, the United States, and in some cases, abroad, as they do important public interest legal work over the summer. As a result of our donors’ support, PILF has been able to provide additional grants each year.

For any questions, please contact the PILF co-chairs at chairs@usfpilf.org 

USF PILF Public Interest Excellence Award

PILF also annually recognizes an individual or organization that has contributed significantly to the struggle for equality, peace, and justice with the PILF Award for Public Interest Excellence.

Past USF PILF Award recipients include:

2004: Mayor Gavin Newsom

2005: Maria Blanco, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

2006: Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights
          Cupcake Brown, Author, Attorney, and Advocate, honored with the PILF Award for Public Interest Awareness

2007: Elizabeth Cabraser, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP

2008: Shannon Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Therese Stewart, San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney

2009: Hon. Carlos R. Moreno, Supreme Court of California

2010: Eva Paterson, President of the Equal Justice Society

2011: Victor Hwang, Assistant District Attorney, San Francisco

2012: David Boies, Chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.

2013: Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, Supreme Court of California

2014: Julia Wilson, Executive Director of OneJustice