Public Interest Law Initiative

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Lode, 2019 Graduate Fellow

Posted on: February 20, 2020

PILI is excited to welcome Sarah Lode of Schiff Hardin LLP to our Alumni Network Leadership Council as the 2019 Graduate Fellow Alumni Representative. Each year, PILI appoints one Intern and one Fellow from the most recent class to serve on the board for a two-year term.

Last summer, Sarah did her PILI Fellowship at the UIC John Marshall Law School Veterans Legal Clinic where she assisted veterans in their benefits appeals within the Department of Veterans Affairs and to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. She also assisted veterans with discharge upgrades in the branches of military, specifically petitioning the Navy to award a veteran that was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with an honorable discharge.

In one case, she was helping a veteran’s spouse who was asking for VA spousal death benefits after her husband had passed away. “My client consistently thanked me for listening to her and helping her tell her story,” said Sarah. “Justice is being able to be heard, to tell your story. It means having a seat at the table and being able to get to the place you need to be in order to have your story hear.”

Since her Fellowship, Sarah has been working as a first-year associate at Schiff Hardin in Chicago. She has been working on several pro bono cases including family law, immigration and civil rights matters. She’s looking forward to taking advantage of Schiff’s partnership with the Veteran’s Consortium to continue representing veterans who are trying to obtain benefits.

“By working as a PILI Fellow, I gained so much valuable experience in an area of pro bono that I am incredibly passionate about,” said Sarah. “With all the experience I gained from the clinic, I know that I will continue to help veterans for the rest of my career any way that I can.”

Sarah is constantly looking for ways to give back to the community, whether it’s with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, the National Immigrant Justice Center or the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program. “I am so thrilled to work at a firm that understands that commitment to service enhances us as lawyers and drives us to continue to better ourselves zealously advocate for our clients,” said Sarah. “I am constantly looking for new ways to use my position as an attorney to help others.”

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