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Supporting Social Entrepreneurship


Through Villanova Law’s six in-house Clinics, students have hands-on opportunities to sharpen their legal skills and to use their training to positively impact the lives of individuals and communities. Students in the Clinic for Law and Entrepreneurship provide pro bono legal representation that supports the region's diverse entrepreneurial community in creating and sustaining endeavors that address unsolved problems and unmet needs, and promote job creation.

Recent student counselors David Hollander ’18 and Reece Cooke ’18 worked with Sanctuary Farm, an innovative nonprofit start-up that is working to develop community farm spaces that serve as venues to engage Philadelphia’s homeless and housing-unstable population with work, food and social services.

Hollander and Cooke closely collaborated with the organization’s founders to develop a workable governance structure to support its sustainable growth and pursuit of federal tax exemption. The students assisted in creating bylaws, establishing a board of directors, creating policy and disclosure guidelines for the organization and leading the organization’s first Board meeting. It was an experience that helped Hollander and Cooke broaden their perception of entrepreneurship and to connect their business law training to community service.

“Many people, including myself, may have this notion of business law and entrepreneurial work as that of big money transactions and mergers,” Cooke said. “While that is certainly true in some cases, it is not absolute. Sanctuary Farm represents a side of business and entrepreneurial work that is more consistent with your everyday, hardworking citizens looking to be better and create a better reality for themselves and others.”

Hollander and Cooke were so dedicated to their client that they volunteered on the farm to gain a better understanding of Sanctuary Farm’s mission and its impact on the community.

“It is helpful to think of yourself as part of the client’s ‘team,’ as opposed to just the client’s attorney,” Hollander explained. “When you get to see how your work is positively impacting the community, the lawyering becomes much more rewarding.”

Founder Shivanee Raj remarked, “It has been really wonderful for us to have David and Reece work with us on our by-laws in applying for federal status. David, Reece and Professor McMenamin guided us thoughtfully through the process and worked diligently to help us navigate potential pitfalls as we looked at how we set up our Board.”

"I always felt confident in the advice Reece and David were offering both because of the professionalism with which they presented their work, and also knowing that they had the support of their instructor to help guide them,” said Executive Director Andrea Vettori. “Sanctuary Farm would not be where it is today without their support and that of the entire Villanova team."  

In the end, both student counselors gained valuable skills through their time in the Clinic.

“Working with Sanctuary Farm taught me a lot about the role of advising, separate from the technical legal analysis and writing. It has been a pleasure having Andrea and Shivanee look to us for guidance about how best to advance their goals,” Hollander remarked. “I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to culminate my education with such a hands-on experience.”

“Entrepreneurs are everywhere in today’s global business market and the skills I’ve learned in the clinic will be very transferrable to the real work and the line of work I want to do,” Cooke said. “My entire Villanova education has culminated in an experience that taught me how business is incorporated into the law and vice versa.”