The Public Interest Law Institute (PILI) is an international organization that advances human rights around the world by stimulating public interest legal advocacy and developing the institutions necessary to sustain it. PILI pursues this mission by building the legal capacity of civil society organizations and the leadership of public interest lawyers, by providing technical assistance on reforming legal aid systems and legal education, and by promoting pro bono legal practice globally. It was founded in 1997 at Columbia University and became an independent 501(c)3 organization in February 2007.  PILI conducts its work from hubs in Budapest, New York, Moscow, Belgrade and Beijing.  

Whether in Central Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, China, or the other locales where PILI works, its chief aims are to increase access to justice for socially vulnerable, poor and disadvantaged communities and to nurture and sustain the next generation of public interest lawyers.  In so doing, PILI brings together diverse constituencies by working across sectors of the legal community to strengthen public interest legal advocacy at the national level and across cultures to foster learning, innovation and collaboration within global public interest legal advocacy networks.

Since its founding ten years ago, PILI has provided 60+ capacity-building fellowships to public interest lawyers from 27 countries.  It introduced pro bono practice in Central Europe.  It helped establish a network of clinical programs for hands-on casework in law schools across Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It helped put legal aid reform on the European agenda. It is supporting the development of ground-breaking forms of public interest advocacy in China. Through these and other activities, PILI has figured prominently in efforts to promote equality and human rights in many disparate societies around the world.  

A.  Legal Aid – Improving state-supported legal aid systems in order to enhance access to justice for socially vulnerable, poor and disadvantaged people.

B.  Legal Education – Fostering new generations of more effective and socially oriented lawyers by making legal education more practice-oriented, with an emphasis on clinical legal education.

C.  Pro Bono – Institutionalizing pro bono practice by law firms and individual lawyers in order to leverage private sector resources for the public good.

D.   NGO Advocacy – Building the advocacy capacity of civil society organizations.

E.  Public Interest Law Fellowships – Assisting the professional development of future public interest leaders.

More information about PILI and a wide variety of resources can be found on our website at www.pili.org.


Edwin Rekosh (erekosh@pili.org)
Executive Director
Public Interest Law Institute
333 Seventh Avenue, 14th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Tel: +1 212 803 5380; Fax: +1 212 803 5381

Christine Schmidt (cschmidt@pili.org)
Communications Officer
Public Interest Law Institute
Paulay Ede 50, 1061 Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36 1 461 5700; Fax: +36 1 461 5701