Honoring the institution’s Augustinian heritage, many Villanova Law students serve as committed advocates for low-income clients through one of the School’s seven in-house clinics, numerous externship placements or an earned fellowship position. A further testament to that commitment are the students who spend their summers doing public interest legal work.
Every year the Walter Lucas Public Interest Fellowship Program (PIFP), a 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. Thanks to PIFP’s fundraising efforts this year, nine students will work this summer for organizations including The Homeless Advocacy Project, Veterans Law Clinic at Widener University Delaware Law School, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and more.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work on meaningful and substantive issues that truly make a difference in the lives of the clients being served,” said Emily Schrank ’18, who will be working at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.
These fellowships allow students to engage in the public service work that drew them to law school
“Public service legal work, in my estimation, is the most vital need that exists in the legal community because too often, the legal needs for the poor are unmet in our country,” said Omeed Firouzi ’17, who will be working at the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at Philadelphia Legal Assistance. “I want to help be an integral part of reversing that.”
For Jennifer Healey ’17, working at the Human Rights First, Refugee Representation Unit is an opportunity to get the exposure she needs to pursue her passion.
“I am excited about assisting the population that I came to law school to help: people fleeing violence and persecution,” said Healey. “I hope to gain a better understanding of human rights advocacy, because I have spent the majority of my time in criminal justice and social work.”
The time these students spend will not only advance the work of each organization but also advance the skills of each student. Villanova Law believes that hands-on, real-world experience is what students need to excel as lawyers. Richard Prebil ’17 has been working as an extern at the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) in Philadelphia, but with this fellowship, he will be able to extend his time and expand his work with the organization.
“I will assist HAP clients with public benefit issues involving SSI, Veterans Compensation and other income maintenance programs. I will also represent homeless clients in matters concerning custody and support, housing, identification, credit rehabilitation and a host of other legal concerns that serve as barriers to resolving homelessness,” said Prebil.
“I'm excited about the opportunity to learn from the attorneys,” said Adison Richards ’18, who will be working at the Northwest Justice Project. He'll be conducting legal research, interviewing and advising clients and planning case strategy.
Since its founding in 1998, PIFP has raised over $770,000 through a variety of creative fundraising endeavors and awarded more than 170 summer fellowships (each now valued at $4,500).
The full list of 2016 fellows are: