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PIFP Fellows 2018

Honoring Villanova’s Augustinian heritage and our community’s dedication to serving others, many Villanova Law students serve as committed public advocates through one of the School’s six in-house clinics, numerous externship placements, pro bono programs or an earned fellowship position. A testament to that commitment are the students who spend their summers doing public interest legal work.

Every year, the student-run Walter Lucas Public Interest Fellowship Program (PIFP) provides fellowship funding to Villanova Law students who are committed to serving the greater community and delivering legal aid to those in need. Nine students will work for non-profit and public interest organizations in summer 2018 thanks to PIFP’s fundraising efforts.

PIFP fellowships allow students to engage in the public service work that drew them to law school. Through these fellowships, students advance the work of their host organizations and enhance their own professional skills.

Daniela Alvarez-Rodriguez

Daniela Alvarez-Rodriguez ’19, Community Legal Services

What excites you most about your Fellowship?

I am most excited about the opportunity to work in an environment that focuses on both client services and policy reform.

Why are you interested in public interest work?

I am interested in public interest work because I see it as a means to achieve social justice.

shannon beam

Shannon Beam ’19, Department of the Interior, Office of Civil Rights, Employee Adjudication and Complaint Division

Why are you interested in public interest work?

I am interested in public interest because I believe we, as lawyers, have a responsibility to use our positions of power and privilege to serve others and advocate for the oppressed. 

paige buckley

Paige Buckley ’19, Orleans Public Defenders, New Orleans, Louisiana

Why are you interested in public interest work?

I'm interested in public interest work because of the wonderful people it allows me to meet and work with. It's an incredible privilege to advocate for people caught up in the criminal justice system, and I continue to be blown away by people's resilience.  


Lindsay Burrill ’20, Nationalities Service Center, Philadelphia, PA

What excites you about your fellowship?

The thing that excites me the most about my Fellowship is getting an opportunity to work on human trafficking cases. Having an extensive background in studying and researching human trafficking, I am really looking forward to experiencing and learning how it intersects with the law and having the opportunity to be involved in helping with those cases. 


candice coll

Candice Coll ’20, Atlantic Center for Capital Representation

Why are you interested in public interest work?

My background is in forensic psychology, specifically eyewitness misidentification and false confessions. Throughout my academic career I have had the opportunity to meet with and hear from individuals who have been exonerated after spending decades in prison. Hearing their stories reaffirmed my passion for post-conviction litigation and desire to work for organizations such as the Innocence Project and the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation. 


Mary O’Rourke ’20, The Pennsylvania Farmworker Project

What excites you the most about your Fellowship?

I am excited to use my fluency in Spanish to advocate for farmworkers from Central and South America and ensure that they know their legal rights in the United States and Pennsylvania. I hope to contribute to cases that will set precedents ensuring that this marginalized population is treated and compensated fairly. I also hope to help connect farmworkers to resources they need to thrive in the United States. I look forward to gaining valuable experience with cases involving employment, labor, housing, government benefits, and discrimination while serving others.

Why are you interested in public interest work?

Public interest work is very important to me because it gives a voice to populations that would otherwise be unable to obtain legal representation. I have always been passionate about serving others and I know that I will continue to use my legal training in public interest work throughout my career.


Gabrielle Outlaw ’19, SeniorLaw Center

What excites you most about your fellowship?

I'm excited to help people in an area of law that is new to me.

Why are you interested in public interest work?

I feel that it is so important to give back to people in life. Legal support and legal services are quite expensive, so I take great pride in being able to assist people who otherwise may not have access. 


Charlie Stegner-Freitag ’20, The Mazzoni Center

What excites you most about your Fellowship?

I'm looking forward to getting valuable experience in protecting the rights of others in the LGBTQ community, and the opportunity to further anti-discrimination policies and legislation in Pennsylvania.

Why are you interested in public interest work?

I believe that we all have a finite amount of time here and we should use the resources and privileges we have been given to leave the world better than we found it. To me that means ensuring the equal and fair treatment of all.


Melissa Zillhardt ’19, The Medical-Legal Community Partnership

Why are you interested in public interest work?

I believe that legal professionals are public servants and therefore have a duty to use our skills and knowledge to assist the public at large. The legal system is complex, but in some respects it is the primary system to balance the interests of all people. Access to the system is a huge issue and therefore the scales are tipped towards those who can afford legal services. I believe that providing access to the legal system for those who would not be able to afford it tips the scales into balance and has an overall positive and fair outcome for communities as a whole.