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Helping those who help us: Wills for Heroes


Villanova Law offers numerous pro bono opportunities, including Wills for Heroes, for law students to volunteer their time working with outside organizations for the public good. In addition to helping others, pro bono work helps students to hone legal skills, develop professional interests and meet practicing attorneys who can provide mentoring and advice.

Christopher Lambe '18, got involved with the Wills for Heroes pro bono program for a very personal reason. The program provides free basic estate planning documents to police, fire, emergency medical personnel, other first responders and military veterans.

"I am a retired sergeant of the New York City Police Department. I spent eight years serving the city of New York and its millions of residents and visitors holding the ranks of police officer, detective and sergeant," Lambe explained.

"During orientation in the summer of 2015, new students were invited to attend an informational meeting with the Villanova student liasions for the various pro bono groups. I heard a brief synopsis of the Wills for Heroes program and it automatically struck a chord. I knew I had to get involved," he continued.

Following September 11, 2001, it became clear within the emergency services community that there was a lack of legal support for first responders needing assistance in estate planning. Wills for Heroes was founded shortly thereafter by Anthony Hayes, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, LLP in Columbia, South Carolina.

Since its inception, Wills for Heroes programs in ten states have provided more than 7,000 free estate planning documents for first responders. Programs are staffed by lawyer volunteers, paralegals and law students and are conveniently offered to first responders at meeting halls and police and fire stations.

Lambe knows first-hand the importance of the services of Wills for Heroes.

"When I was active with the NYPD, I never met with anyone to draft a will or health care directive. Though we faced mortality with each shift, the estate planning process was often times too stark of a reminder of the dangers of the profession," he explained. "Wills for Heroes helps first responders and their families appropriately plan for the future by providing these documents in less than an hour in a supportive and comfortable atmosphere."

Through their work with Wills for Heroes, Lambe and his fellow student volunteers get hands-on experience drafting legal documents and working with clients. Lambe cites his classes in contracts, property, decedents and estates and transactional writing as beneficial to his work with the group.

Lambe, who now serves as the school's student liaison to the program, has seen an outpouring of support from the Villanova Law community. On Feb. 25, Villanova Law students, professors and alumni will be volunteering at a Wills for Heroes event at the Baptist Church in the Great Valley in Devon, PA, serving first responders from both Montgomery and Chester counties.

Learn more about Villanova Law's pro bono opportunities.