2017 PILA grants allow students to pursue passion in public interest

Congratulations to the 2017 Public Interest Law Association (PILA) grant recipients! PILA awarded 28 grants this year, the most in its 22 year history.

One of the oldest organizations at UW School of Law, the student-run group operates as a 501c3 nonprofit with the goal of supporting and promoting public interest law. PILA annually provides summer grants to fund unpaid, public interest internships.

I am most looking forward to the opportunity to get hands-on experience in an area that I am passionate about. Olivia Miller, 2L

To apply for a PILA grant, students must volunteer for five hours and submit an application for review. The committee then selects recipients for $2500 and $5000 grants, which allow students the financial freedom to pursue their passion in public interest. 

“PILA is not only helping to fund my summer work, but is also giving me the opportunity to preview my dream job,” said Ana Faoro, who will intern with the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. (FDSDI). “However, I know the defense and advocacy skills I gain at this internship will be irreplaceable regardless of which public defense agency I work at after graduation.” 

Faoro looks forward to helping represent clients with immigration cases. “I believe that the federal criminal justice system is the best place to spark change at the both the federal and state level, through state incorporation of federal policies, which is why I want to be a federal public defender.”

Since 1995, PILA has provided approximately 321 grants and well over a million dollars in grant funds.

“This grant allows me to continue into public service,” said Olivia Miller, who will intern with the Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel. “Without it, I would be unable to afford a summer in public defense and therefore would not be able to pursue the career I am passionate about.”

2017 PILA grant recipients:

Maddisson Alexander

King County Superior Court, Judge Cahan

Lesly Avila

Solid Ground

Gardner Reed

WA Attorney General's Office - Antitrust Division

Olivia Miller

Pierce County Dept. of Assigned Counsel

Emily Obermiller

WildEarth Guardians

Adam Haynie

Environmental Protection Agency

Nadia Eckardt

Center for Food Safety

Sarah Smith

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Zachariah Thal

United States District Court, Judge Lasnik

Alex Hagel

Office of Civil Rights, Dept. of Education

Ryan Gompertz

WA Attorney General's Office, Licensing and Administrative Law Division

Sara Leonetti

King County Superior Court, Judge Chun

Jamie Richardson

Seattle City Attorney - Criminal Division

Colin Patrick

Office of Civil Rights, Dept. of Education

Ari Mead Robbins

Attorney General: Civil Rights Unit

Brittany Taylor

Center for Justice Spokane

Olivia Mitchell

Unemployment Law Project

Jessica Johanson-Kubin

Office of Civil Rights, Dept. of Education

Zachary Brusseau

King County Public Defender's Office

Rachel Hammond


Laura Robinett

Snohomish County Legal Services

Alison Harper

Snohomish County Legal Services

Sarah Aitchison

ACLU of Washington

Ana Faoro

Federal Defenders of San Diego

Yun-Pei Tu (Martina)

Washington Appleseed

Emily Raszler

WA State Attorney General Torts Division

Melissa Hamblin

Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities

Kelsey Shamrell-Harrington

Seattle Community Law Center