The International Justice Mission, the U.S. Department of Justice and Philadelphia Legal Assistance are just a few of the organizations at which eight Villanova University School of Law Students will be doing public service legal work this summer as part of The Walter Lucas Public Interest Fellowship Program (PIFP). PIFP, an entirely student-run organization, provides summer fellowships to Villanova Law students, who want to aid the larger community and deliver volunteer legal services to those in need.
“I came to law school to acquire a set of skills that I can then leverage to make change. This internship feels like the beginning of that work,” said Rebecca Hanna ’17, who will be working for the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office.
Similarly, Alayna Brauer ’16 said her placement is a dream job. She will be working in Ghana for the International Justice Mission on child labor trafficking cases—specifically the forced child labor and enslavement of boys as young as 5-years-old in the fishing industry on Lake Volta. She first heard about the organization as an undergraduate and has been interested in its work ever since.
“I am so excited to work in a multidisciplinary team committed to justice for the poor, the marginalized, the powerless,” said Brauer.
Not only is this an opportunity for these students to engage in the public service work that drew several of them to law school, but it is also an opportunity for them to gain hands-on experience. Kelsey Krier ’17 will be working with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through Philadelphia Legal Assistance and handling her own caseload. As an advocate for low-income clients in need of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, she will help them apply for the program. Elizabeth Flanagan ’17, also placed through Philadelphia Legal Assistance, will be working with the Family Law Unit. She will be working with clients on issues of child custody, child support and domestic violence.
“I am really excited for this position because I think it will be a great opportunity to learn about working directly with clients,” said Flanagan.
Since its founding in 1998, PIFP has raised over $770,000 through a variety of creative fundraising endeavors and awarded over 170 summer fellowships (each now valued at $4,500). In addition, 2013 marked the eighth consecutive year that PIFP provided $12,000 to fund its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). LRAP provides a $12,000 award, paid over three years, to a recent graduate committed to working for a public interest organization or governmental agency.
The full list of 2015 fellows are: Harini Bupathi ’16, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Medical-Legal-Community Partnership; Alayna Brauer ’16, International Justice Mission, Ghana; Katie Clarke ’17, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Elizabeth Flanagan ’17, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Family Law Unit; Rebecca Hanna ’17, Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office; Holly Jones ’16, U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, Natural Resources Section; Kelsey Krier ’17, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Norman McNeal ’17, Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office & Face to Face Legal Clinic.
To find out more about PIFP click here.