SWLAW Blog | Future Students

2023 PILC Grant Recipients Government Part Four Collage featuring headshots of Diana Aguilar, Bianca de la Vega, and Natalie Diaz

October 13, 2023

Meet our 2023 PILC Grant Recipients Working in Government – Part Four

Southwestern's Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) is a student-run organization that sponsors several events each year to raise student awareness and involvement in providing legal services for underrepresented communities and is dedicated to facilitating public interest law careers by supporting students in public interest work through fundraising efforts for the school's Public Interest Law Summer Grant Program.

We want to recognize these students and their incredible work with their Public Interest Law Committee Summer Grant. Meet our final group of 2023 PILC Grant recipients working in Government:

Diana Aguilar Summer Placement: Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defenders Office

Diana Aguilar

Summer Placement: Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defenders Office 

During this externship, I realized how important legal research skills are. It is critical to understand how to efficiently research specific topics. I also was able to put into practice my criminal law and criminal procedure knowledge while working on case briefs, etc.

I am passionate about pursuing a career in public defense because I strongly believe that every individual should be entitled to receive efficient and accessible legal representation. Growing up in a community like Boyle Heights, I realized that the only times I would meet an attorney would be if someone around me were in need of one.  I aspire to not only become a public defender but also give back to my community through pro bono legal clinics where I can provide legal services and education.  Low-income communities are often most impacted by the criminal justice system, and I believe it is unfortunate that they are the least equipped to navigate the process/system. I believe that beyond legal representation, everyone should be entitled to basic legal education where they are informed of their rights before being in a predicament with the system.

Bianca de la Vega Summer Placement: Federal Public Defender, Capital Habeas Unit

Bianca de la Vega

Summer Placement: Federal Public Defender, Capital Habeas Unit

We visited San Quentin Prison to meet with clients. Hearing the clients’ stories and their daily lives was very impactful. This summer continued to inspire me to serve indigent clients. 

I am dedicated to the public interest career path. I believe that underrepresented clients deserve passionate and kind lawyers to advocate on their behalf. I love to interact with clients because listening to clients is a critical part of the work.  Clients deserve to feel heard and advocated for accordingly, and I want to be a great listener and passionate advocate for those who are too often unheard.

Natalie Diaz Summer Placement: Riverside County Public Defenders Office

Natalie Diaz

Summer Placement: Riverside County Public Defenders Office

This summer was a life-changing experience for me.  I got to represent clients in court and overcome my fear of public speaking.  One very memorable experience for me was when I conducted a preliminary hearing for a client.  Although the outcome did not work out in our favor, the client was still very thankful that I helped him and tried my best.  It was a very rewarding experience.

I am passionate about public service work because no human should be denied access to adequate legal representation due to their socioeconomic status.

About the PILC Summer Grant Program

Southwestern's PILC Summer Grant program was established in 1990 with the mission of providing financial support to selected recipients seeking full-time summer clerkships with legal services organizations providing no-cost assistance to underserved, marginalized communities. This program makes it possible for students to acquire the legal training and education necessary to address the lack of access to legal services for indigent communities while also alleviating Southwestern students' financial burden of acquiring more educational loans in order to do so.

PILC sincerely thanks our donors and supporters for your invaluable contributions to this program benefiting Southwestern students. PILC's mission is to help create a community where Southwestern students, staff, faculty, and alumni are educated and incentivized to participate in issues concerning and advancing the public interest, and it is your support of this mission that is vital in helping us reach our fundraising goals each year. 

The student deadline to apply to the 2024 PILC Summer Grant Program is March 4, 2024. Awards up to $5,000. Email publicservice@swlaw.edu for more information.