Center for Public Interest Advocacy and Collaboration (CPIAC)

Center for Public Interest Advocacy and Collaboration

The Center for Public Interest Advocacy and Collaboration (CPIAC) takes the lead in infusing the law school’s public interest mission into all facets of the student experience.

While supporting the law school’s long-standing commitment to social justice, the center also pilots programs and initiatives that address broader justice issues. The center’s most recent projects have focused on applying design and data strategies to find new interventions in the Cradle-to-Prison pipeline, centering community lawyering as a practice method and connecting students with pro bono opportunities.


Through teaching, practice, research and networking, CPIAC seeks to enhance the role of law and legal practice in achieving social, economic, and environmental justice in all dimensions. Searching for innovative and holistic solutions to contemporary social justice challenges, we work across disciplines; we engage with academic, professional, advocacy and grassroots communities; and we develop approaches to legal education geared toward this mission.

Core Values

  • Upholding democratic values and working as a catalyst for systemic transformation on behalf of and in collaboration with vulnerable populations and communities that promotes the realization of social justice.
  • Promoting action-oriented research and public-policy initiatives, strategic collaborations and experiential, cross-disciplinary learning.

Institutional Goals

  • To assure that NUSL remains the premier public interest law school
  • To develop the best law school-based, interdisciplinary public interest law center
  • To develop the premier public interest “pipeline” by recruiting and training the next generation of social justice lawyers, and facilitating their entry upon graduation into fulfilling public interest careers.


Professor Lucy Williams

Professor Lucy Williams, an internationally recognized authority on welfare law and low-wage labor, as well as international comparative social and economic rights, directs the Center for Public Interest Advocacy and Collaboration.

Renay Frankel
Managing Director

Renay Frankel is the managing director of Northeastern Law’s Center for Public Advocacy and Collaboration (CPIAC). From 2017-2023, Renay served as the director for public interest and government with Northeastern University School of Law’s Center for Co-op and Career Development. As the leader of the public interest team, Renay oversaw professional development programming and career advising for law students pursuing internships and post-graduate jobs in the public sector. Renay also taught Northeastern’s Public Service Externship Course, which combined coursework with part-time externship placements in government agencies or non-profit organizations. She began public interest career advising three years earlier, as the assistant director of Harvard Law School’s Office of Public Interest Advising. Prior to working in career services, Renay practiced law for eight years in the public sector. She started her legal career as a public defender in Roxbury, Mass., with the Committee for Public Counsel Services and also worked as a housing attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services. In 2009, she was the recipient of a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship, which led to the creation of a unique position at the Committee for Public Counsel Services to expand the public defender agency’s holistic defense practice and address clients’ civil legal issues. In this role, she provided training and advice to court-appointed criminal defense attorneys in Massachusetts regarding the civil consequences of criminal cases. She also facilitated collaboration between the public defender agency, civil legal services providers and community partners in order to support public defender clients.

Renay is a 2006 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and received her BA from Skidmore College.

Recent News