Two Villanova Law Students Selected As 2022 Rural Summer Legal Corps Student Fellows
Patrick Brogan (top) and Andrew Green.
Patrick “PJ” Brogan ’24 and Andrew Green ’24 were selected as 2022 Rural Summer Legal Corps Students Fellows by Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the nation’s largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans. After a rigorous interview process with 333 law school applicants nationwide, Brogan and Green were chosen as two of only 40 Student Fellows to join the Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellows. This summer, the Fellows are working at LSC-funded civil aid organizations across the country, providing critical legal assistance to people in rural areas.
Brogan, a 2015 graduate of Fordham University and a former homeless services professional, has a passion for helping people who are facing housing insecurity. He is spending his 2022 Rural Summer Legal Corps Student Fellowship with Southeast Ohio Legal Services in Athens, Ohio where he is focused on tenant advocacy. On a weekly basis, Brogan works with low-income clients at clinics in three rural Ohio counties who are facing housing and eviction-related issues. He conducts client interviews and intakes, researches legal issues involving landlords and tenants, property conveyances, civil procedure and family law. He also assists the attorneys who are involved in eviction litigation.
“Working closely with clients in the clinics has been a great experience so far,” said Brogan. “It is nice to get out of the theoretical application of the law to see how it’s actually impacting people. I have gained a new understanding of the unique housing issues clients in rural areas are facing, and I am honored to be a resource for people who are facing housing insecurity.”
Prior to law school, Brogan worked for six years as a case manager at shelters and supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. He held positions with AmeriCorps in Missoula, Montana and Austin, Texas, as well as with the Bethesda Project and The Outreach Team in Philadelphia. Most recently, he was a paralegal with The Homeless Advocacy Project in Philadelphia where he worked with clients who were applying for Social Security benefits, medical disability claims and facing a variety of other legal issues.
“I began to wonder if there was a different way I could support my clients,” said Brogan. “I was an emotional resource for my residents, but often what they needed was someone to fight for them. When a client was facing an unjust eviction or a mounting healthcare bill for a lifesaving operation, I desperately wanted to step out of a caregiving role into something more adversarial. This is the reason I went to law school. In my line of work, there is a need for dedicated and competent public interest lawyers who can advocate and make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness.”
Green, a native of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois is inspired to serve rural communities because of a family connection. “My family on my dad’s side is from very rural southern Illinois,” said Green. “They are an underserved population with limited resources, so I would like to give back to the community I came from in some way.” This summer, for his Rural Summer Legal Corps Student Fellowship, Green is stationed in Columbia, Tennessee and is working with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, assisting low-income, rural individuals who facing societal barriers due to prior criminal records.
“A lot of what I’m doing this summer is reentry work,” said Green. “I’m helping people who have been convicted of crimes, and the formerly incarcerated to reenter society and find things like jobs and housing benefits. Things that they otherwise would have been cut off from them because of their criminal records.”
Through community outreach at weekly clinics and events like Junteenth and Pride celebrations, Green has connected with the local community to educate them on their legal options and the possibility of expunging their criminal history. “The fear in rural communities is that they think I’m asking about criminal history to deny them something, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Green. “When we get them to open up about their criminal records, we can work with them in a meaningful way. We can help them improve their chances of finding a home and qualifying for benefits like SNAP so their kids don’t go hungry. It gives them a chance to successfully lead a life outside of crime”
As a teenager, Green dropped out of high school. After earning his GED and taking a year off to plan his future, he enrolled in an Associates Degree program at Lincoln College in Illinois. “I started to enjoy school when I had more control over it,” said Green. “It was hard for me to study without context, so when I began my associate’s degree, I realized education can be fun and more positive than negative.” After earning his associate’s degree, he continued his education as a criminal justice major at Bradley University in Illinois.
Green first became interested in expungement law during a legal internship in is junior year at Bradley. “I worked with an older man who had a criminal record since he was a teenager,” said Green. “He was held back his entire life because of his criminal history. He was not able to advance his career or provide a better life for himself or his children because of his record. When we helped him, he shook our hands and said, ‘Now I can really start my life over.’ From that moment I knew I wanted to go to law school and do that work.”
Both Brogan and Green plan to put their passions into practice and pursue public interest legal careers in the future. Brogan hopes to work as an attorney in a civil legal aid office, while Green dreams to one day open his own legal aid clinic in an underserved community.