Public Interest Fellowship Program
The PIFP Board extends a heartfelt "THANK YOU" to Krasno, Krasno, & Onwudinjo for their continued, generous sponsorhip of the Lester Krasno 5K Run & Fun Walk on October 5, 2019!
The Walter Lucas Public Interest Fellowship Program (PIFP) at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law provides financial support to students who commit their summers to public service legal work. Many law students, dedicated to helping the less fortunate, are limited by financial constraints. Similarly, public interest legal organizations often cannot afford to hire much needed summer interns. Through fundraising, PIFP, an entirely student-run organization, provides summer fellowships to Villanova Law students, who in turn aid the larger community by working with various public interest organizations throughout the region, nation and world to deliver volunteer legal services to those in need.
Since its founding in 1998, PIFP has raised over $800,000 through a variety of creative fundraising endeavors and awarded over 200 summer fellowships (each now valued at $5,000). In addition, 2015 marked the tenth 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 highlight of PIFP’s fundraising efforts is its annual spring auction, which in recent years has featured 250 to 300 silent and live auction items donated by individuals and businesses throughout Greater Philadelphia and across the country. This year's auction will take place on Saturday, February 22, 2020 at Villanova Law School. To learn more about the Walter A. Lucas Public Interest Fellowship Program’s 23rd Annual Public Interest Auction click here.
Please join PIFP in helping public interest organizations to deliver volunteer legal services to those in need. Click on the links above to learn more, and thank you for your support of public interest!
2019- 2020 PIFP Board
Click here to visit our auction bidding platform and place your bids on silent auction items!
Purchase your tickets for this year's auction here!
THE 2018 PIFP AUCTION
was held on March 23, 2018 and was a huge success. We raised a lot of money to support public interest fellowships!
Comprised of both silent and live auctions, the event in recent years has featured 250 to 300 items donated by individuals and businesses throughout Greater Philadelphia and across the country including: lunch and golf foursomes with distinguished Villanova Law alumni, vacation stays, tickets to cultural and sporting events, and much more; and all proceeds go toward providing $4,500 fellowships to current students who commit their summers to performing public service legal work. PIFP also awards one $12,000 fellowship each year to a recent graduate who has committed to working full-time for a public service organization or governmental agency.
Founded in 1998, PIFP is a student-led organization dedicated to supporting student legal work in the public interest sector. Each year, volunteers work tirelessly to raise money to provide summer fellowships for their fellow students who otherwise would work in unpaid public interest positions. This work is critically important, not only to the public interest organizations with whom the fellows serve, but especially to the lives of low income individuals, the elderly, abused and neglected children, victims of discrimination, people with disabilities, and other members of our society in need of legal advocates. See the Recipients tab for a list of this year's Fellows and their positions.
Please join PIFP in helping public interest organizations deliver volunteer legal services to those in need throughout the Greater Philadelphia region and beyond!
We appreciate donations in any amount. Please consider sponsoring a fellow for an hour ($11.25), a day ($90), a week ($450), a month ($1800), or an entire summer ($4500).
You can make a monetary donation online by clicking here and designating your gift to the Walter A. Lucas '88 Public Interest Fellowship Program, or by sending a check payable to "Villanova University" with "PIFP" in the memo line to:
Public Interest Fellowship Program
Villanova University School of Law
299 North Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
The 2019 Deans' Cup at the Villanova University
The Philadelphia Deans’ Cup is an annual charity basketball tournament designed to raise funds for the public interest organizations of participating schools. The 2019 tournament will feature Drexel Law, Penn Law, Temple Law and Villanova Law.
The 2019 Dean's Cup was held at the Jake Nevin Field House (800 E. Lancaster Ave, Villanova, PA 19085) at Villanova University on Friday, March 29, 2019 at 6:00pm. Game 1: Drexel vs. Temple and Penn vs. Villanova; Game 2: Winners competed for the championship with Villanova coming out on top as 2019 champions!
Villanova won the inaugural Dean's Cup game in 2011, Temple was victorious in 2012, and Villanova took the Cup in 2013, 2014 & 2015. Temple won the Dean's Cup in 2016 and again in 2017. Let's keep that trophy in 2020!
Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo Public Interest 5K Run/Walk
2019 PIFP Fellows
This summer I worked at the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office in the Special Victim’s Unit. I had the opportunity to observe multiple trials pertaining to issues such as rape, unlawful possession of a firearm, and fleeing and eluding a police officer, and learn trial strategy from the Assistant District Attorneys. I improved my legal writing skills by drafting three motions, two memorandums, and five appellate briefs for the Special Victim’s Unit over the course of the summer. My research assignments included the admission of novel scientific evidence, Megan’s Law/SORNA, received personalized feedback on all my writing and learned about the relevant law in Special Victim’s cases, such as various hearsay exceptions, the many amendments to Megan’s Law (now SORNA), and Post-Conviction Relief Act petitions. Most importantly, I learned how to interview with professionally and compassionately interview clients that have experienced trauma in their lives.
This summer I worked at Philadelphia VIP, a non-profit that provides legal services to low- income clients in a variety of civil issues. I had the opportunity to represent clients who faced issues in areas such as homeownership/probate, family law, torts, and debt collection. I managed my own caseload where I interviewed clients, reviewed documents, and compiled case files. These cases would then either be referred to a pro bono attorney who would represent the client in court, or if the issue did not involve going to court, I would have the opportunity to represent them myself under a supervising attorney. For example, I drafted deeds for two different clients seeking title to their homes, had the clients sign them along with a notary, and recorded them in Philadelphia City Hall. This internship provided me with valuable skills that I can transition into my future legal career and reinforced my commitment to serving underrepresented communities.
This summer I worked for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender (OPD), Parental Defense Division on Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) cases. CINA cases arise when the Department of Social Services (DSS) files a petition alleging that a child has been abused or neglected under the supervision and care of his or her parent or guardian. I spent most of my days speaking one-on-one with clients - reviewing the DSS’ court reports with them, ensuring that they were completing the court-ordered requirements, and gathering information about their case. I organized and consolidated discovery, interviewed various witnesses, and researched recent Maryland CINA rulings to help the attorneys create the strongest defense for their client. My legal writing improved as I drafted and filed concise and focused motions to suppress evidence or amend court orders. I met weekly with my supervising attorneys to discuss trial strategy and preparation for court contests. This experience was invaluable in teaching me that allowing your clients to feel heard is critical in making them feel respected and dignified.
During the summer of 2019, I worked as a law clerk in the Office of Civil Enforcement (“OCE”) at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C. OCE enforces federal environmental regulations and ensures consistency of enforcement programs throughout the Agency’s ten regional offices. I was assigned to the Waste and Chemical Enforcement Division where I handled matters relating to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), and the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”). As a law clerk, I evaluated novel regulatory enforcement applications from regional offices around the country, prepared legal strategies for administrative enforcement actions, and drafted new enforcement policies that will be implemented nationwide to better control the importation of harmful chemical products into the United States. My time at the Environmental Protection Agency provided me with an up-close look at the nuts and bolts of federal environmental regulation while strengthening my legal research and writing skills, allowing me to work hand in hand with an experienced team of environmental and legal professionals, and offering me the opportunity to craft environmental policy at the federal level.
This summer I worked in the Appeals Unit of the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. In my summer position, I wrote briefs, model motions of law, and memorandums. I drafted memoranda in opposition to motions for a new trial after examining the facts from district court decisions and condensing the relevant case law. I also drafted motions, including a model motion to compel decryption of electronic devices. Working within the Appeals Unit allowed me to strengthen my legal writing and research skills by engaging in substantive research and writing projects. I had several long-term assignments related to a criminal justice reform bill recently passed by the Massachusetts legislature. I also researched issues for assistant district attorneys with time-sensitive legal questions. Lastly, I assisted in researching and writing an amicus curiae brief on medical parole that will be submitted to the state supreme court.
I spent my summer as an intern in the Aging and Disabilities Unit at Community Legal Services (CLS). I am grateful for the opportunity to have provided both direct service and advocacy to a particularly vulnerable population of Philadelphia at such a fantastic organization. I primarily assisted clients in accessing long-term care, Supplemental Security Income, home modifications, and other public benefits. I also assisted clients in fighting against wrongful reductions and terminations of benefits. Additionally, I contributed to research and advocacy regarding Pennsylvania’s ongoing privatization of Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS) and the use of technology in assessing the needs of LTSS recipients.
This summer, I interned at the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP), a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure equal access to justice for indigent incarcerated and institutionalized people within the state of Pennsylvania whose constitutional civil rights are being violated. There, I drafted motions to the court, interrogatories, and legal memorandum. I learned how to navigate evidence and acquired fluency in our clients’ factual records. I observed and participated in hearings, depositions, meetings with potential expert witnesses, staff attorney meetings, and various board meetings with other civil rights organizations or justice reform organizations. I accompanied PILP attorneys on client visits, helped counsel them through depositions or hearings, and wrote response letters to presently incarcerated individuals. Essentially, I engaged in every stage of civil impact litigation.