SWLAW Blog | Future Students

Image - PILC Feature Friday 2020 Public Defender's Office

September 25, 2020

Meet our 2020 PILC Grant Recipients Working in the Public Defender's Office

Southwestern's Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) is a student-run organization that sponsors a number of events each year to raise student awareness and involvement in providing legal services for underrepresented communities and is dedicated to facilitating public interest law careers by supporting students in public interest work through fundraising efforts for the school’s Public Interest Law Summer Grant Program.

We want to recognize these students and the incredible work they are doing with their Public Interest Law Committee Summer Grant. Meet our 2020 PILC Grant recipients working in the Public Defender's Office: 

Feven Abraham, 2L

Summer Placement:  Los Angeles Public Defender's Office

Image - Feven AbrahamI am passionate about public interest work because I am the daughter of immigrants and grew up learning the importance of advocacy at a very young age.

This position allowed me to be a voice for the indigent. A lot of the cases were hard to read, but it was rewarding at the end of the day to know you helped this person and maybe helped them find the help they need.


Brittany Butler, 3L

Summer Placement:  Los Angeles Public Defender's Office

Image - Brittany ButlerI am passionate about public interest work because it is an extreme privilege to be able to attend law school and become a lawyer. Often the clients we work with in public interest are the clients who need the most help. Their lives are usually at stake, and if I can help save someone from being wrongfully incarcerated, that is what drives me.

I have now been a part of three cases in which people were released from prison. Two of which were innocent of the crimes they were convicted of. Even though these two people served a combined 60 years in prison, I was able to help them to still have an opportunity to live their lives freely.


John Lucas Frye, 3L

Summer Placement:  Los Angeles Public Defender's Office

Image - John Lucas FryePublic service, to me, is the highest honor. I believe that helping your community through public service is not only vital to ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our society get the assistance they need, but is necessary to foster the values of a free, open and cooperative society.

My biggest accomplishment was presenting research that proved a district attorney incorrect on the law and enabled a client with mental health issues to avoid an offer that would have severely negatively impacted their future.


Astina Shakilyan, 3L

Summer Placement:  Los Angeles Public Defender's Office

Image - Astina ShakilyanPublic interest work is incredibly fulfilling. There is something truly special about giving back to those in your community who are underprivileged and less fortunate than you are. I realized early on in my law school journey that receiving a legal education is a privilege and that I have the ability to use that privilege in a meaningful way. That realization was really empowering.

I am passionate about everyone’s constitutional rights being respected regardless of how they look, what they did, or what they are being accused of.  My summer placement at the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office allowed me to work alongside brilliant and passionate attorneys in ensuring that our clients’ constitutional rights are protected at every step of the legal process.

Support PILC

In lieu of in-person events this year, you can help support PILC by donating at SWLaw.edu/SupportPILC.

Donate Here

Southwestern’s Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) sincerely thanks you for your support.  PILC’s mission is to help create a community where Southwestern students are educated and incentivized to participate in issues concerning and advancing the public interest. Each fundraising cycle, PILC focuses efforts on raising as much funds as possible to provide financial support for students who wish to spend their summer contributing to the work of public interest and government agencies advocating for meaningful impact for the diverse, low-income communities across California who need legal advocacy the most. These funds will go towards our Public Interest Law Fund, which provides funding to selected student recipients to serve in unpaid, full-time clerkships with public interest / civil legal aid and government agencies up to a 10-week summer term.

The Public Interest Law Summer Grant aims to alleviate the financial burden of student loans while providing Southwestern students the opportunity to gain practical legal training and education in public service. PILC looks forward to continuing to serve our Southwestern and California communities through our fundraising efforts. 

PILC Grants are available for continuing students who work in public interest during the summer. Applications are due in March. Awards up to $5,000. Email publicservice@swlaw.edu for more information.