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Press Release

NIU Law Graduate Patti Zimmerman
Awarded Fellowship from Illinois Bar Foundation

August 30, 2016

Patti ZimmermanDeKalb, Ill.--The Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF), the charitable arm of the Illinois State Bar Association, has awarded one of its 2016 Post Graduate Legal Fellowships to Patti Zimmerman, a 2016 graduate of Northern Illinois University College of Law.

During the one-year fellowship, she is working at the school’s Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford, beginning on August 16.

The IBF launched its Post Graduate Legal Fellowship Program in 2014 to fund public interest jobs for recent law graduates. In addition to Zimmerman, IBF awarded fellowships this year to graduates from DePaul University College of Law and Loyola University Chicago School of Law. The fellowship is designed to increase access to civil legal aid, help new attorneys develop practical legal skills and build a network, and encourage participants to use their skills to serve those in need through public interest jobs or pro bono work. The IBF and the three law schools will share the cost of the fellowships.

Shawn Kasserman, IBF president, notes the need for public interest lawyers in civil cases far outweighs the numbers who are able to serve low-income residents. “The fellowship program provides on-the-job training for new lawyers while simultaneously helping fill the gap in legal aid services,” he said. “It also instills in young attorneys a spirit of public interest law so that they can continue to serve low-income clients throughout their career.”

“NIU Law focuses on giving back to the community and training lawyers to be productive members of the legal community. Because of this fellowship, I will be able to continue the work I started as a law student in the civil justice clinic while giving back to my hometown community of Rockford,” said Patti Zimmerman. “In addition, the clinic offers me valuable practice experience, allowing me to work one-on-one with clients on their legal matters.”

“This year, NIU Law had an all-star cast of candidates for this fellowship. Even among these outstanding applicants, with strong commitments to public interest, Patti stood out,” said Wendy Vaughn, director of the NIU Law Civil Justice Clinic in Rockford. “While working at the clinic as a law student, Patti distinguished herself in a number of ways, including successfully representing a client in court on a complicated matter. I am thrilled she will be able to help many more clients through this fellowship.”

NIU law opened the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford in 2001 and added a juvenile program there in 2011. NIU Law also operates a foreclosure mediation clinic in Kane County and Health Advocacy Clinic at Hesed House, a homeless shelter in Aurora, assisting clients with legal matters.

NIU Law prepares graduates for careers through in-depth core classes and extensive hands-on training in legal clinics, externship placements, and specialized upper-level courses. Its graduates enter a variety of legal and public service careers, including over 90 alumni who are active or retired judges. In addition to practicing law, many graduates also choose careers as leaders in government and business where the JD degree is a recognized advantage.

These opportunities come without the high price associated with other law schools in, and around, Chicago. NIU College of Law is the only public law school in the Chicago area, and offers unique opportunities through access to highly-accomplished faculty members and program designed to support the success of its graduates throughout their careers.



For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Alumni Events & Public Relations
(815) 753-9655 or

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