Students such as Vanessa Stine ’14 exemplify what it means to be a Villanovan. Her efforts fighting for immigrant rights bring to life Villanova Law’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition, which challenges students to use their knowledge, skills and compassion to improve the world around them.
In 2012 Stine started the Notario Fraud Project when she realized that Pennsylvania had no programs dedicated to fighting notario fraud—where immigrants are tricked by non-lawyers who misrepresent their qualifications to provide legal assistance. Stine recruited and trained volunteers, created a hotline, sought community support and conducted outreach to find victims. To date, the project has interviewed 24 victims and referred another 18 immigrants to non-profit organizations. Additionally, with the support of Professor Beth Lyon and Professor Caitlin Barry, the project was able to provide direct legal representation to two victims in a civil suit, with the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic and the law firm Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C. as co-counsel. Several media outlets, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Legal Intelligencer and KYW Radio, have featured Stine’s work with the project.
"In many years of working with public interest and pro bono-oriented students at Villanova Law, I have not met Vanessa Stine's equal. She is quick to grasp the root causes of social and institutional problems and address them with creativity, integrity and persistence," commented Professor Lyon. "Vanessa created a movement to improve the lives of migrants in our region that has involved students, faculty, the private bar, the press and local, state and federal agencies. What she has achieved in less than three years of law school would make highly seasoned activists proud."
Stine was recently named one of nine recipients of the 2013 Super Lawyers Pro Bono Awards in recognition of her efforts. The awards honor those in the legal profession that exemplify excellence in practice in service of others through delivery of volunteer legal services to the poor, underrepresented or exploited. Stine is the second Villanova Law student to receive this honor; John Rafferty ’12 was recognized for his work as an anti-trafficking advocate in 2011.
In addition to founding the Notario Fraud Project, Stine has also served as co-organizer for Villanova’s Farmworker Legal Aid Spring Break Trip in 2013, which focused on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and tax returns for low-income immigrants. She is also a volunteer with the National Lawyers Guild’s U Visa Project, which assists victims of crime in applying for legal immigration status.
Click here to learn more about pro bono opportunities at Villanova Law.
About the Super Lawyers Pro Bono Awards
The Super Lawyers Pro Bono Awards honor those in the legal profession who exemplify excellence in practice in service of others through delivery of volunteer legal services to the poor, underrepresented or exploited. Awards are given out on a yearly basis to attorneys, firms, law students, law schools and other legal organizations based on pro bono efforts accomplished in the calendar year. Each Award recipient receives a monetary award as well as editorial coverage in a special Pro Bono Super Lawyers Digital Magazine, the Super Lawyers blog, and on SuperLawyers.com.