- Charles Burrows, '21
- Katharine Carden, '21
- Valarie Asimacopoulos, '21
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 170 summer fellowships (each now valued at $4,500). 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. PIFP’s 22nd Annual Public Interest Auction took place on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at Villanova Law School.
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!
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 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 will be 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 will compete for the championship.
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 try to win back that cup in 2019!
This summer I worked at Community Legal Services (“CLS”) in their Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit. I was part of the tax team within the Consumer unit and handled tax foreclosure cases, as well as mortgage foreclosure cases. I worked up my supervisor’s preexisting cases while I also had the opportunity to choose my own clients during our weekly Tax Team meetings. I researched Pennsylvania consumer law, met with and advised clients under attorney supervision, zealously advocated on behalf of clients, mooted arguments with senior attorneys in preparation for litigation, and observed a city council hearing. I also completed two research assignments and drafted legal memoranda. I honed my advocacy skills this summer and will be staying at CLS during my fall semester.
This summer I worked in the Employee Complaints and Adjudication Division (ECAD). One of ECAD’s primary responsibilities is to offer Final Agency Decisions (FADs). A FAD is issued after an agency employee has filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC and has waived their right to a hearing. My responsibility this summer was to write the FADs. After reviewing the facts of the case, I would write a full evaluation and come to a conclusion about whether there was a finding of discrimination. DOI was an awesome place to work. The environment was very professional and extremely organized. It’s clear that the people on this team love what they do and are excited to share it with others.
The Orleans Public Defenders provide client-centered, community-oriented defense for indigent persons accused of crime in New Orleans. During my summer clerkship, I worked closely with attorneys representing juveniles charged in both juvenile and adult courts, parents in custody proceedings, and persons with mental health diagnoses accused of serious crimes. Working with the Orleans Public Defenders was an incredible privilege. These passionate attorneys work in one of the most punitive places in the world, where defendants are still convicted by non-unanimous juries and children as young as 12 are charged as adults.
I was a summer fellow at Nationalities Service Center this summer, a non-profit organization that works with immigrants and refugees. While at the internship, I worked one-on-one with clients, put together applications for many different types of immigration relief, and wrote several memos and cover letters arguing for my client’s cases. I worked on several human trafficking visa cases, several asylum cases, a few naturalization cases, and helped individuals apply for green cards. Additionally, I got to conduct consultations with many clients throughout my time working at NSC. My time at NSC was a great learning experience and helped me grow as a legal professional in my knowledge of immigration law, my research and writing abilities, and my ability to work with clients.
This summer I worked at the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation (ACCR)- a non-profit death penalty and juvenile life without parole litigation and reform resource center. I was assigned two post- conviction cases: one involving a client on death row, the other a fourteen-year-old boy who was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. I was able to assist in the research and writing of two Petitions for Allowance of Appeals to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Additionally, I worked on securing a government pardon on behalf of our juvenile client. I had an incredible summer with ACCR and look forward to continuing my work with them in the fall as part of my externship.
As a certified legal intern at the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, I had the opportunity to experience the practical aspects of the work as a prosecutor, as well as learn skills that make a good prosecutor. Being certified, I represented the Commonwealth as a member of the District Attorney’s Pretrial Unit in Gagnon hearings, guilty plea hearings, and summary appeals at the Common Pleas Court in Montgomery County. Other than appearing in court, the certified legal interns received training from the head supervisors in not only how to conduct the mentioned hearings, but how to be effective trial attorneys. The interns were taught how to use evidentiary rules, give closings, and other skills associated with trial work. At the end of the internship, the certified interns participated in a trial competition to demonstrate the skills learned from the program.
During my 1L summer, I interned at the Pennsylvania Farmworker Project (PFP), a unit of the legal nonprofit Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA) that represents migrant farmworkers in employment related cases. I had the opportunity to work on a wide range of cases pertaining to issues such as labor trafficking, wage theft, discrimination, and workers’ compensation. I improved my legal writing skills by drafting a demand letter, a complaint, an affidavit, and a legal argument for a trafficking visa. My research assignments involved the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and the Department of Labor’s nonimmigrant visa regulations. Most importantly, I learned how to effectively interview and correspond with clients that have experienced trauma in their lives. I will continue to use this skill throughout my legal career. Although PLA’s office is in Philadelphia, PFP’s clients live in various rural areas throughout Pennsylvania. With my supervisor and paralegal, I traveled to Chester, Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties. While traveling, we met with clients, conducted outreach to local Hispanic-owned businesses, gave presentations at migrant education events, and visited labor camps to inform workers of their legal rights. This internship was an incredible opportunity that made me even more passionate about representing marginalized Spanish-speaking clients.
I acted as summer legal intern for the SeniorLAW Center for summer 2018. The SeniorLAW Center, provides legal services for seniors ages 60 and over in the Philadelphia area. I worked most closely with the Homeownership Rights Team. Within this team, I completed presentations on topics, such as property tax assessments and adverse possession. Additionally, I attended diversion court for mortgage foreclosure issues. In addition to my duties with the Homeownership Rights Team, I also assisted with document drafting and participated in a personal estate-planning clinic. Lastly, I conducted intake calls for the SeniorLAW Helpline, which is a Pennsylvania-wide program where SeniorLAW Center attorneys provide advice, information, and referral services to qualifying seniors.
I worked with the Mazzoni Center’s Legal Services team this summer to provide direct services for LGBTQ individuals in our community. Under the direction of Mazzoni Center’s attorneys I conducted intakes and performed any research and writing related to the legal services Mazzoni Center provides. More specifically, I worked directly with Mazzoni Center’s clients to gather relevant information about their circumstances and the applicable law to best help Mazzoni Center evaluate if, and how, to best address the clients’ legal needs. Addressing the legal needs of clients included providing legal referrals, conducting legal research, drafting legal documents on behalf of clients, and assisting attorneys in preparation for cases. Additionally, I was responsible for researching and drafting a memorandum in support of policy reform efforts to change the statutory requirements for name changes in Pennsylvania in order to make it easier and safer for people to have their gender-affirming names legally recognized.
This summer I worked as a legal advocate at the Medical-Legal Community Partnership. The Partnership is operated through Philadelphia Legal Assistance and conducts its operations out of Philadelphia Community Health Centers 3 and 4 in West Philadelphia. The Partnership’s basic goal is to provide services that address the social detriments to health in a space that is accessible, friendly, and familiar to low-income people. In my role as a legal advocate I provided pro bono legal services to patients at both health centers. The Partnership is a generalist practice, however most of our cases involved Social Security benefits, disability benefits, Medicare/Medicaid/Affordable Care Act Coverage, SNAP benefits, utilities issues, and medical billing issues.
We appreciate donations in any amount. Donations can be made online. After entering the donation amount, please select the "Walter A. Lucas '88 Public Interest Fellowship Program" as your "Other Designation."
Please consider sponsoring a fellow for
Villanova University School of Law
Public Interest Fellowship Program
299 North Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085