“Corporate Law. Business Transactions,” laughed Lisa Rothwell-Copeland, “These aren’t bad words!”
A group of students interested in public interest law gathered last Friday to hear from Rothwell-Copeland, a successful public interest advocate who founded Public Interest Legal Advocates of Regent (PILAR) as a 1L in 2001.
Today, PILAR has grown to a membership that includes over one third of the student body. Rothwell-Copeland returned to encourage all students that in the depressed economy there is a huge need for public interest lawyers. She also reminded those gathered that the desire to be a corporate attorney is not a bad thing. “No matter what your expertise or chosen field,” she said, “there are always pro-bono clients in need of your service.”
Like many Regent students, Rothwell-Copeland came to Regent to pursue a legal career that benefits under-represented populations. She now primarily deals with family law cases in rural Ohio.
Nationally, no more than 2.5 to 3 percent of law school graduates go into public interest work. Regent, however, annually places graduates in public interest positions at two to four times that rate.
Rothwell-Copeland’s is proud of how PILAR has established itself so quickly. The organization seeks to network students with community organizations, prepare students to fight inequality, and raise awareness of and funds for public service causes. In the last two years, its annual auction raised nearly $14,000 for students who were to take unpaid public service internships over the summer.