The Saint Thomas More Society of Philadelphia has presented their annual Saint Thomas More Award to the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law Clinical Program.
The Saint Thomas More Award is presented by the Society annually to a member of the legal profession whose accomplishments represent the principles and ideals of Saint Thomas More. An attorney, public servant, jurist, scholar and teacher, More combined his concern for the problems in his time with a personal moral commitment to his conscience.
Villanova Law’s Clinical Program provides hands-on legal experience for students in six in-house clinics—Clinic for Law and Entrepreneurship; the Federal Tax Clinic; Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic; Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrants Services (CARES); Interdisciplinary Mental and Physical Health Law Clinic.
Clinic students earn credit while representing real clients with critical legal issues under the direct supervision of full-time faculty members. As primary advocates for their clients, students interview and counsel, negotiate agreements, structure deals, draft legal documents and appear in court. Clinic students develop the legal and professional skills to become effective attorneys all while serving the community and changing lives.
A few highlights of the work the Clinic Program does are:
- Each year approximately 100 students participate in a clinic, helping approximately 200 clients per year.
- Melisa Buchowiec ’18 and Omeed Firouzi ’18, students in the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services, gained hands-on client experience and won asylum for a deserving client.
- 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.
- Patrick McGinnis ’18 and Dana Sleeper ’18 contributed vital legal research for a recent report examining whether non-English speakers receive interpretation assistance during their hearings in select Pennsylvania courts.
The Saint Thomas More Society of Philadelphia seeks to promote and foster high ethical principles in the legal profession generally and, in particular, in the community of Catholic lawyers; it provides a Catholic voice on issues of relevance to judges, lawyers, public officials, and law students; and, above all, the Society encourages its members to apply the following ideals exemplified by Saint Thomas More in both their personal and professional lives.