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PILF Grantees Gain Experience, Knowledge

September 23, 2010

This summer 27 law students participated in local, national, and international internships funded by the USF School of Law Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF).

Hillary Amster 3L, a 2010 PILF grantee, at the Sept. 15 Justice Forum.

PILF provides grants for law students working in unpaid, full-time positions in nonprofits and government agencies.

Lisa D’Annunzio 3L, PILF co-chair, and Hillary Amster 3L talked about their internship experiences at the Sept. 15 Justice Forum.

“The work I did this summer wouldn’t have been possible without my PILF grant,” said D’Annunzio, who interned at the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office in Hayward. “(The internship) was an incredible experience….I worked with clients all day, every day. I was in court every single day. I was in a suit every single day. I really felt like a practicing attorney.”

Her responsibilities at the public defender’s office included negotiating with district attorneys, writing and arguing motions, and interviewing people in custody, including people with mental disabilities and those addicted to drugs. D’Annunzio said she learned about how to communicate with people about their rights and cases.

Amster spent the summer in Washington, D.C., working with the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC).

“What CIVIC does is they monitor countries in conflicts and they advocate for the victims who we consider collateral damage, people who are lawfully killed in war,” said Amster, who monitored Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, and Somalia during her internship. “They fight to have compensation for these people and some sort of apology—recognizing that even though they were, technically, legally killed in war under international humanitarian law, they still deserve some sort of acknowledgement.”

Other 2010 PILF internship locations included Immigrant Survivor of Domestic Violence Advocacy Project at the San Mateo Regional Office of Bay Area Legal Aid; Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, a national civil rights law and policy center working to advance the rights of people with disabilities; Eviction Defense Collaborative, a nonprofit that provides counseling, legal services, and rental assistance to low income tenants facing eviction lawsuits; Bankwatch Network, an NGO that monitors international financial institutions; and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, which advocates for the civil rights and empowerment of incarcerated parents as well as their children and family members.

The PILF grants are funded in large part by the law school’s annual PILF Gala Auction and Award Ceremony, scheduled this year for Nov. 12. For information, click here.