Villanova Law students spend time as Capitol Hill externs
In the study of law, there is no substitute for real-world experience. And when it comes to giving students hands-on opportunities, Villanova Law excels in providing over 250 externship opportunities, including many government placements. Colin Milon ’18 and Alyssa Pooler ’19 took advantage of the law school’s close proximity to Washington, D.C. and landed coveted externships on Capitol Hill.
For Milon, a DC native, returning to the area to work on the Hill was a longtime goal. With two stints working with the Senate under his belt, his most recent experience was as a law clerk for the US House Committee on the Judiciary for the Minority. Milon’s work required careful preparation before hearings and to be a self-starter, which gave him the opportunity to work on cases that interested him.
“I had to be somewhat of a ‘jack-of-all-trades’—anytime counsel needed something, I would be there to help out,” Milon said. “The analytical abilities, issue spotting and legal writing that I learned at Villanova Law really came into play during my externship. Things move fast on the Hill and people don’t have time to read a 10-page memo. But, they do have time for two paragraphs. I was able to provide a summary on topics that succinctly captured the issue and was easy to digest.”
Pooler spent her time working in the fall for the House Committee on House Administration, Minority Staff, where she helped write a report on election cybersecurity for the Congressional Task Force on Election Security.
The Committee has jurisdiction over all matters related to the functioning of the House and is also responsible for oversight of federal elections. The Task Force’s work coincided with her course in Administrative Law.
“Taking Administrative Law during this externship gave me practical hands-on experience of what I was learning in class,” Pooler said. “On Monday, I was researching the Election Assistance Commission and on Tuesday, I was learning how agencies function in class. By the time I was writing about the Election Assistance Commission halfway through the semester, I was able to understand the legal issues surrounding the EAC’s limited power and what Congress could do, through the EAC and other agencies, to secure our election.”
Pooler and Milon both agree that a mix of perseverance along with the foundational elements of legal education is needed to land a position on Capitol Hill. Through the convergence of their in-class work and the wide ranging externship assignments, the students were given tangible preparation for their future careers.