The Public Interest Law Scholars (PILS) program began in 1988 as an enriched academic and professional development program for select students who intended to pursue public interest legal careers.
The program quickly became the foundation of a public interest community that 30 years later boasts a standalone public interest career office (OPICS), guaranteed public service summer funding, the top-ranked clinical program, and one of the most generous law school loan repayment assistance programs. PILS also spurred the creation of the Public Interest Fellows program, which provides enhanced curricular, community, and career support to students desiring a concentrated public interest experience at the Law Center.
PILS itself has grown and adapted since its auspicious beginning. In 1996, the program began offering partial tuition scholarships in order to help minimize the debt burden of PILS members, and in 2017 expanded to offer up to full tuition scholarships. In 2018, the program received a $10 million naming gift from Bruce (L’80) and Ann Blume and is now known as the Blume Public Interest Scholars Program.
Though the program has changed a bit over the years, and the larger Law Center public interest community has grown substantially, one thing has remained constant — the commitment of the scholars themselves. Today, the vast majority of PILS/Blume Scholars continue to serve in the public interest.