PILP’s Executive Board is made up of motivated law students. Our Officers have varying legal interests that represent the many facets within public interest law.
Matt Clarkson, ’24 President
Legal Interests: Employment Discrimination, Civil Rights Litigation
PILP was one of the reasons I chose to come to Lewis & Clark Law School. My first year, I volunteered with the organization and received a summer award to work in public defense. Last year, I joined the PILP board as our Sponsorship Coordinator. Working with PILP has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my time in school. Our mission brings out the best in each of us, and I am proud to stand with such a dedicated team. True justice can only be achieved with an eye towards the public interest, and PILP brings us one step closer towards achieving that goal.
Elexis Kain (she/her), ’24 Vice President
Legal Interests: Indigent Criminal Defense, International Criminal Law
Over the past two years I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most dedicated and passionate students and faculty at Lewis & Clark Law School through my involvement with PILP. Many people come to law school as idealists, hoping to make the world a better place through public interest advocacy of all sorts. But, between steep student loans and low paying or unpaid jobs, many are forced to make the hard choice between what they want to do and meeting their basic needs. PILP members and volunteers work hard to bridge the justice gap. We work to make pursuing public interest a more feasible option, in the hopes that one day we won’t have to. Our efforts to build community and connect people with opportunities in public interest really make PILP special—it’s kept me coming back each year! I’m thrilled to be a part of PILP and can’t wait to see what this unstoppable organization will be able to accomplish together this year!
Lane Kadish, ’25, Treasurer
Legal Interests: Environmental Law, Animal Law
Lewis & Clark is full of inspiring individuals who are dedicated to public interest careers, but money is a real and inescapable obstacle for many to pursue this work. I joined PILP to help remove this obstacle and open the door for more students to chase their passion.
Kathrine Coonjohn ’25 Secretary & Historian
Legal Interests: Public Interest, Arctic Law, Tribal Law
My first year of law school, I kept hearing students mention “PILP” and watched as a stream of students signed up to volunteer. “Too many” I thought, “I’ll never stand out there.” PILP had different ideas for me, however. Soon, PILP was seeking a community of volunteers to help create their annual auction. Creating community through law is exactly why I came to law school, so I volunteered to help create the annual PILP auction, which raised enough money to fund every applicant who applied for PILP funding during 22-23! That feeling of being a part of the community that helped my law school friends achieve their goals motivated me to join PILP’s board. When I’m not working for PILP, you can find me on other student org boards (MLSA, NALSA, LLS and SBA) or back home in Alaska, where I work to create community through law by advocating for tribal and land rights, bringing legal services to rural areas, or just enjoying a good day of fishing. Gunalchéesh!
Mariah Hogan, ’24 (she/her) Director of Awards
Legal Interests: Public interest, criminal defense, children/ families
I joined PILP as a 1L wanting to connect with others over a shared drive to support our community as soon-to-be lawyers, and I’ve remained with PILP ever since due to the passion I’ve developed for using legal work for good, and to continue striving to increase its accessibility to all.
Serene Mistkawi (she/her) ’25 Volunteer Coordinator
Legal Interests: Criminal Defense, Post-Conviction Relief
I joined PILP because this incredible group of students is working to ensure that we are not held back by finances when considering taking these unpaid public interest jobs. As a Palestinian, state-sanctioned violence is something I find to be deeply concerning. Our current criminal punishment system uses state-sanctioned violence in the form of the carceral system as a means of dealing with many societal problems, including homelessness and addiction. Legal work fighting to change the way we address crime and punishment is more often than not underfunded and unpaid. I am immensely grateful that as a result of my PILP Award I am able to intern at the Oregon Innocence Project, a project of the Oregon Justice Resource Center, a center that is focused on ending mass incarceration. I am incredibly excited to take on the role of Volunteer Coordinator and assist my fellow students in finding ways to be involved in our community!
West Aron (they/he), ’25 Community Outreach Coordinator
Legal Interests: Criminal Law, International Law
Institutions like PILP enable access to public interest legal careers that realize the promise of justice for all communities. Without the financial support PILP provides and advocates for, many students would be priced out of pursuing the areas of law that have the least funding but the highest need. I am one of those students, and I believe that educational opportunities for aspiring public interest attorneys are necessary for any meaningful public access to the justice system in our future. I’m proud to share that belief in my role as PILP’s Community Outreach Coordinator.
Paige Punzalan (she/her), ’25 Director of Student Engagement
Legal Interests: Environmental Law, Energy Law
I believe there should not be a monetary barrier preventing people from pursuing careers they are passionate about, especially in the broad field of public interest. Public interest attorneys are integral to our society, and I joined PILP to be a part of an organization full of like-minded individuals who agree. We work to spread the word about the amazing positions that are available in the field of public interest by fostering a sense of community and ensuring that students have the opportunity to follow their passions without having to worry too much about financial hurdles.
Cassandra St George (she/her), ’25 Auction Co-Director
Legal Interests: Transactional law
I joined this organization out of a profound sense of justice, combined with a paradox that struck me deeply: the most vital work, fighting for those who cannot afford legal representation, is often left unpaid. This seemed an unbelievable imbalance in a field meant to uphold justice. To me, the students we support are not just future lawyers, but beacons of change. Their work, which I consider the most important of all, is what inspires my commitment to this cause. Being part of this project is more than supporting a cause, it’s a reaffirmation of the values at the core of our legal system – fairness, equality, and justice. I am here because I believe in these students and in the profound difference we can make together.
Nathan Smith (he/him) ’24 Auction Co-Director
Legal Interests: Criminal Law
I joined PILP because PILP directly encourages students from all walks of life to take an interest in public interest law, and because the money that we raise goes directly to supporting students who want to help the most disadvantaged members of our communities. Through PILP, our student body is empowered to take on issues that all of us care about, and our communities are able to access legal aid that would be much more difficult without the work that PILP does. I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that puts people first and does everything it can to educate and empower those around it.
Anna Hong (she/her), ’25 Sponsorship Co-Director
Legal Interests: Construction Law, Tax Law
I joined PILP because I think lawyers are in the position to help those that are less fortunate and they should be compensated for their work
Ashwin Kushwaha ’25 Sponsorship Co-Director
Legal Interests: Environmental, Natural Resources
My name is Ashwin Kushwaha and I am a 2L student here at Lewis & Clark. I joined PILP because a large part of the reason that I pursued law school was so that I could have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the world through law. I believe that PILP provides the perfect opportunity for law students to get involved with projects that make a positive difference while also providing invaluable experience and networking opportunities.
Michael Johnson (he/him), ’25 Procurement Co-Director
Legal Interests: Environmental Law, Criminal Law
I came to law school wanting to practice public interest law because the field plays an essential role in the struggle to ensure dignity and achieve equity for our local and national communities and for our planet. By encouraging law students to work in public interest positions and by financially supporting the students who choose to do so during law school, PILP works to ensure that there is never a shortage of talented and passionate advocates to fill these vital roles. I am proud to contribute to PILP’s mission in my role as Procurement Co-Director along with a group of talented and like-minded students
Morgan Oberman (he/him), ’25 Procurement Co-Director
Legal Interests: Environmental Law, International Law
I joined PILP last year because I believed that financial burdens shouldn’t prevent my fellow classmates from pursuing the meaning of work done in public interest law. Through the work of the fantastic PILP community, I saw how it was possible to encourage and support students in pursuing public interest law internships. I hope to continue our efforts to support our classmates and help to relieve financial burdens through the summer stipend this upcoming year
Ben Beckman ’25 Content Creator
Legal Interests: wildlife/public lands law
I joined PILP after learning what public interest law is as a 1L. I think it’s an underrated and underappreciated area of the law, and I’d like to help raise awareness regarding its importance in the Lewis & Clark community
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