Guided by Passion

Michael DeRienzo

Villanova Law students such as Michael DeRienzo ‘14 don’t just take opportunities. They make them.

DeRienzo came to Villanova Law with his sights set on becoming a health law attorney and immersed himself in the School’s health law curriculum. As a first-year student, he joined the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) at the recommendation of Michael Campbell, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law and Director of Villanova’s Interdisciplinary Mental and Physical Health Law Clinic. When DeRienzo learned that the organization lacked a student division, he reached out to the AHLA leadership to inquire about potential student opportunities.

The following summer, DeRienzo attended the AHLA’s annual meeting in Chicago to network with fellow members and to brainstorm about ways to increase student involvement. As a result of passion and hard work, DeRienzo saw to it that a law student seat was created on the AHLA Young Professionals Council, and he was subsequently elected as the inaugural student representative. In this role, DeRienzo writes articles for the AHLA’s monthly magazine, sits on four task forces and works to increase law student participation and support.

DeRienzo credits his Villanova Law education and the faculty support he has received as integral to his success. "I can honestly say that I came to Villanova after watching Professor Ann Juliano teach a class at Admitted Students Day,” he said. “Since then, she truly has been a guide to me, constantly introducing me to people and going out of her way to help with recommendations and career guidance. Professors Ellen Wertheimer and Steve Chanenson have also been incredible mentors.” 

While balancing his studies and extracurricular activities, DeRienzo also finds time to get hands-on legal experience. In summer 2013, he was a legal clerk at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, the nation’s leading law firm for whistleblower protection. Here at Villanova, DeRienzo is the founder and past President of the Villanova Law Republican Club, a former teaching assistant for Professor Wertheimer's Torts class, a Student Ambassador, a 1L mentor and was recently elected to the Villanova Law J. Willard O’Brien Inn of Court.

After completing his JD, DeRienzo hopes to specialize in Qui Tam Litigation, which protects whistleblowers who expose fraud against the government.