About WIPI

Working in the Public Interest Conference

Entirely student organized, WIPI seeks to bring together eminent practitioners in their respective fields, students, and faculty to discuss practical approaches to lawyering which can promote social justice and human rights for all. This conference seeks to highlight dynamic, creative ways to combat social injustice through the vehicle of the law. WIPI is committed to institutionalizing a public interest law conference in the Southeast. We feel the social history, political climate and economic conditions of Southeast are unique, and hope that by providing a forum to address persistent social injustices we may get one step closer to resolving the major public interest law issues in the Southeast.



The WIPI Conference was founded by UGA Law Students in 2005. Kelly James, Rakesh Parekh, Heidi Taylor, and Vanessa Volz teamed up to develop a conference proposal. Dean Rebecca H. White of the UGA School of Law graciously offered to support the endeavor and WIPI was born. The first annual WIPI Conference was held in April of 2006, and former Senator John Edwards served as the inaugural keynote speaker. The conference is now in its 8th year, and our panels are a reflection of issues in the national news as well as issues close to the hearts of students at Georgia Law.


2014 WIPI Board 
Executive Director: Courtney Coons Poole
Deputy Director: Elliott Gillooly
Panels Director: Sarah Bellacicco
CLE Director: Joseph Kim
Assistant CLE Director: Jonathan Tonge
Logistics Director: Imani Carter
Hospitality Director: Nick Sexton
Hospitality Assistant Director: Sakeena Leben
Public Relations Co-Director: Anna Fowler
Public Relations Co-Director: Gregory Steele
Registration Director: Michelle Yang


WIPI Awards

In 2007, the WIPI Executive Board established the Milner S. Ball Lifetime Achievement Award to honor practitioners that have dedicated their careers to public interest work. The award is named for Professor Ball, who founded UGA's Public Interest Practicum and inspired many UGA students to pursue their interests in public interest law.

Recent Recipients

2012 - Don Keenan, Founder, Keenan's Kids Foundation
2011 - Doug Ammar, Executive Director of Georgia Justice Project
2010 - John Whithead, President and Founder of the Rutherford Institute
2009 - J.L. Chestnut, Civil Rights Advocate 
2008 - Phyllis Holmen, Executive Director, Georgia Legal Services Program
2007 - Prof. Milner S. Ball, Caldwell Professor of Constitutional Law, UGA, & Founder of the UGA Law School Public Interest Practicum

The WIPI Executive board also created the WIPI Student Achievement Award to honor law students who, through their work in public interest, made a significant difference in the lives of the indigent or under-served. Candidates for the award should be current law students, who did not receive compensation or monetary reward for their efforts. Work performed in clinics, internships, and externship for class credit is acceptable. Please send your nominations for both awards to

Recent Recipients

2012 - Touch Thouk, 3L, University of Saint Thomas School of Law
2011 - Emma Hetherington, 3L, University of Georgia School of Law, Co-Founder Public Interest Law Council
2010 - Nikki Thanos, 3L, Loyola Univeristy College of Law in New Orleans Louisiana
2009 - Rebecca Williford, 3L, University of North Carolina, President of Disability Law Association.
2008 - Steve Weyer and Terri Porter, Co-Chairs of EPIC 2008, Inspiration Awards, Emory Law School
2007 - Cliff Williams, 3L, Georgia State University College of Law and Georgia Innocence Project Intern