Schatz Elected President of Public Interest Group

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James O’Neill 212-854-1584  Cell: 646-596-2935
July 29, 2008 (NEW YORK) – Columbia Law School Professor Barbara A. Schatz was recently re-elected as president of the Public Interest Law Institute (PILI) during the group’s annual board meeting in Budapest, Hungary.
“PILI’s programs are designed to build human rights from the ground up by stimulating public interest advocacy and developing the institutions to sustain it,” said Schatz, who was elected for her third one-year term as the Institute’s president.
In the past year, PILI organized the first-ever European pro bono forum, attended by 130 lawyers, academics and NGOs. “The forum was part of PILI's successful efforts to engage law firms, especially those in Central and Eastern Europe, in representing civil society organizations,” Schatz said. PILI has established clearinghouses in Russia and Hungary and is assisting the development of clearinghouses in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Serbia.
During the past year PILI also held the first pro bono roundtable in Shanghai to discuss pro bono challenges in China, part of a plan to establish a clearinghouse to facilitate pro bono work there.
Other recent PILI initiatives include the first workshop on the use of strategic litigation to challenge discrimination in Bosnia; work with universities in five countries of the former Soviet Union - Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia - to develop their curricula in ways that will produce more effective and socially-oriented lawyers; and the expansion of a fellowship program to lawyers from Israel, Poland, Brazil, Hungary, Nepal and China. The program brings young public interest lawyers to Columbia Law School. Where they spend a semester collaborating with Columbia students on projects that the fellows will implement in their home countries.
During the annual meeting in Budapest, the PILI board added four new members, including Columbia Law School Professor Benjamin Liebman. He is director of the Law School’s Center for Chinese Legal Studies. His current research focuses on the role of the media in the Chinese legal system, on Chinese tort law, and on the evolution of China’s courts and legal profession.
The Public Interest Law Institute was founded in 1997 by Edwin Rekosh ’88, who continues to serve as its executive director, and was operated as a project of Columbia Law School through 2006. Columbia Law School professors Philip Genty, Edward Lloyd, Jane Spinak, Jack Greenberg and Peter Rosenblum have all participated in PILI projects.
Since becoming an independent organization in 2006,  PILI’s annual budget has grown to $3.5 million. It has a staff of 20, with offices in New York, Budapest, Moscow and Belgrade. It expects to open a Beijing office soon.
Current programs focus on increasing access to justice through legal aid reform and pro bono work, enhancing the advocacy capacity of non-profits, reforming legal education in order to produce more effective and socially oriented lawyers and developing public interest advocates through the fellowship program at Columbia. 
Schatz, a Columbia Law School Clinical Professor of Law, is the former executive director of the organization now called the Lawyers Alliance for New York. As director, she administered a pro bono program for 1,800 lawyers, founded the Community Development Legal Assistance Center and co-founded the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (Now Human Rights First) and Court Appointed Special Advocates, a program of advocacy for children in foster care.
Schatz joined the Columbia Law School faculty in 1985, and has taught the Mediation Clinic, the Community Development Clinic and the Clinical Seminar in Law and the Arts. She currently teaches the Nonprofit Organizations/Small Business Clinic. Her principal areas of interest include nonprofit organizations, microenterprise, community development, and clinical teaching, including the introduction of clinical methodology to countries in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and China.
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, and criminal law.