Directory

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

Villanova University
Charles Widger School of Law
299 North Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
www.law.villanova.edu

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Elizabeth E. Dunn
Director of Public Service Careers & Pro Bono Programs
P: (610) 519-7228
E-mail

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator. Also, recipients of Villanova's public interest scholarships are required to perform pro bono as law students in addition to requirements post-graduation.

Description of Programs

The Director of Public Service Careers and Pro Bono Programs works closely with the clinical faculty, student Public Interest Fellowship Program, student Pro Bono Society and the Alumni Affairs Office to develop educational programs and student pro bono/public service placements. Information about pro bono opportunities, including training sessions, panel discussions and other presentations, is publicized through the Law School weekly newsletter, the Gavel Gazette; via email from the Director to law students; and through the various student organizations. Students are also informed about the various websites that provide information about pro bono opportunities. To monitor placement quality, the Director contacts the students and the field supervisors on a regular basis about their placement and experience. For more information, see: http://www.law.villanova.edu/studentservices/careerstrategy/probonoprograms.asp

The Director also oversees administration of Villanova's "Lawyering Together" program, which pairs practicing attorneys with Villanova Law students to handle pro bono projects. This program works in coordination with the SeniorLAW Center, the Support Center for Child Advocates and Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program, all of which are headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. See http://www.law.villanova.edu/administration/alumnirelations/lawyeringtogether.asp

The Director coordinates the administration of other standing and ad-hoc pro bono projects, including:

  • Disability Project with the Legal Clinic for the Disabled (students present "Know Your Rights" workshops and conduct intake clinics for persons who are disabled);
  • Federal Defender Capital Habeas Unit project (students assist in preparation for capital cases);
  • Homeless Advocacy Project Adopt-A-Shelter program (students conduct intake and assist homeless women and children with various civil matters);
  • Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center Pro Bono Project (students assist immigrant detainees with habeas petitions);
  • Street Law with the Chester City School District (students present workshops in classrooms K-12 on various aspects of the law); and
  • VITA (students assist low income community members with tax return preparation).

The Director also publicizes community service projects that are offered throughout the school year by both the law school and the University to all of its students. See: http://www.law.villanova.edu/experientiallearning/publicinterestprobono/communityservice.asp

Also, public interest scholars are required to participate in at least one clinical course and either a second clinical course or an externship.

Location of Programs

The Office of Career Strategy and Advancement. See http://www.law.villanova.edu/studentservices/careerstrategy/

Staffing/Management/Oversight

The Director of Public Service Careers and Pro Bono Programs divides her time roughly equally between serving as a career services professional specializing in public interest/ government career counseling and as the coordinator of VLS's growing pro bono programs.

The Director consults and works with the members of the student organizations, the Pro Bono Society and the Public Interest Fellowship Program. The student run Pro Bono Society has as its purpose "to provide students the opportunity to volunteer their time and unique skills as law students for members of our community."

Funding

The Law School provides student pro bono groups with office space, computer access, the use of the Law School website and bulletin boards, and the cost of photocopying and other miscellaneous expenses. The Law School also created the full-time position of Director of Public Services Careers and Pro Bono Programs to provide support for the student pro bono projects.

The Law School provides the same financial and administrative assistance for faculty pro bono projects as for other faculty service projects.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Amnesty International – Amnesty International coordinated several law-related projects, including an advocacy campaign on behalf of Sudanese child soldiers.

Asian Pacific American Law Students Association – APALSA developed and implemented a collaborative pro bono project with St. Rita's Clinic in West Philadelphia to provide intake and legal representation to indigent, immigrant clients in a variety of civil matters.

Black Law Students Association – BLSA sponsors several pro bono and law-related projects, including legal workshops at local schools and coordinating advocacy around the No Child Left Behind Act.

Criminal Law Society – The Criminal Law Society coordinated several law education projects, including a project with a local non-profit group "Books through Bars."

Family Law Society– The Family Law Society coordinated a number of law education projects, including a debate on gay marriage.

Gay/Straight Alliance – The Gay/Straight Alliance works with the Center for Lesbian & Gay Civil Rights to train law students and then match them with indigent clients in a variety of civil matters, including protection from abuse, housing discrimination and estate planning. In addition, the Gay/Straight Alliance sponsors a number of public interest community forums throughout the year.

Latin American Law Students Association – LALSA worked in conjunction with clinical faculty member (and LALSA advisor) to bring the Lat/Crit Symposium to Villanova Law School.

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund – The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund coordinated an advocacy campaign focused on improving conditions at local and national animal shelters. In addition, they presented a symposium on animal law.

Tax Law Society – Tax Projects: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) assists low-income taxpayers in the Philadelphia area to prepare their returns. In addition, Tax Law Society students also offer "Know Your Rights" presentations to indigent taxpayers. Finally, Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP) trains and supervises volunteer lawyers and law students who staff a tax clinic for migrant farm workers. http://www.law.villanova.edu/studentservices/studentlife/studentorganizations.asp#Tax%20Law%20Society

The Pro Bono Society (PBS) – The Pro Bono Society (PBS), probono@law.villanova.edu, sponsors several pro bono and law-related projects, including presenting workshops about tenants' rights at a domestic violence shelter and participating in a program with the Chester City School District, in which law students create and present workshops on various aspects of the law.

United Front – United Front students worked with Philadelphia non-profit organizations to coordinate a voter registration drive and voter education project.

Women's Law Caucus – WLC coordinated several law education events, including a forum on workplace and gender issues.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Every law student group has a faculty adviser. Faculty members advise the students participating in the student-sponsored projects.

Awards/Recognition

The Villanova Law Alumni Association annually gives the Law Alumni Award for Pro Bono Service to the third year student who has contributed the most meaningful service to those in need. In deciding who should be the recipient of the award, the committee considers non-law related community service as well as pro bono service. The Alumni Association also gives the Donald W. Dowd Alumni Association Award for Public Service, which recognizes outstanding service by alumni to society. The award is presented to an alumnus or alumna who has dedicated time and energy to the public welfare.

Each year Dean Mark A. Sargent and the Villanova Law Alumni Association Leadership host a brunch, designed to welcome members of the graduating class into the Association and to celebrate the tradition of service by Villanova Law students and graduates. The program includes presentations of the Law Alumni Award for Pro Bono Service and Dorothy Day Service Awards to third year students.

Service is recognized in a weekly publication distributed to the law school community and mailed to an extensive audience including donors, board members and members of alumni boards.

The Law School recognizes faculty pro bono service and publicizes it to the Law School community in the weekly Law School.

Community Service

There is a Day of Service incorporated into the fall orientation for new students. In the past years, students, staff and faculty participated in projects sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and Philadelphia Cares. In addition, there are many community service projects and activities throughout the year, some sponsored by the Pro Bono Society (PBS) and some by the Student Bar Association (SBA). These include a Philadelphia CARES Day of Service; the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service; the AIDS Walk; the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Walk; and "adopting" a low-income family at Christmas that needs food, toys and other items to celebrate the holiday.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Elizabeth E. Dunn
Director of Public Service Careers & Pro Bono Programs
P: (610) 519-7228
E-mail

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Villanova University School of Law encourages students to pursue careers in public interest law. To facilitate such careers, VLS created the Public Interest Scholars Program. Each year, several students are offered a 50% tuition-waiver scholarship based on their past academic achievement, leadership, public interest work and commitment to contribute to public interest endeavors as future public interest practitioners. Villanova Law Public Interest Scholars must participate in at least one clinical course, and then either a second clinical course or a public service externship. They must also complete 100 hours of public service. Scholars receive specialized advising from a faculty member with public service experience, as well as a Mentor from the public interest community, to assist with curricular choices and to provide mentoring throughout the three years of law school.

In addition, to assist law students in selecting courses, the Villanova faculty have prepared course guides which identify those courses relevant to specific practice fields, including Public Interest Law, Environmental Law, Family Law or Criminal Law.

Public Interest Centers

Human Trafficking Project - In conjunction with the undergraduate school and the CARES clinic, and under the auspices of a prioneering movement with Catholic Relief Services, students address the issues of human trafficking, both domestic and international.

Public Interest Clinics

Advanced Advocacy Clinic - A limited number of students who have already completed a semester in the clinical program may continue with their studies in an advanced setting. Admission and credit amount are determined prior to registration at the discretion of the faculty, in consultation with the Academic Dean.

Civil Justice Clinic - Students represent low-income clients in various civil matters, including family law, housing and governmental benefits.

Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES) - Students represent refugees who are seeking asylum in the United States because of threatened persecution in their home countries.

Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic - Students represent farmworkers living and working on Pennsylvania farms in a variety of legal matters, including worker's compensation and housing.

Federal Tax Clinic - Students represent low-income taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service and in the U.S. Tax Court.

Mediation Practicum - After extensive training, students act as frontline mediators in the Philadelphia Municipal Court Mediation Program.

Villanova Capital Defense Practicum - Students in this Practicum work 16 hours per week with attorneys from the Capital Habeas Corpus Unit of the Federal Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on death penalty cases in current litigation.

Externships/Internships

Villanova has an extensive externship program, offering placements with government agencies, public interest organizations and state and federal judges in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Placement sites include the U.S. Attorney's Office; the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division; the Defender Association of Philadelphia; the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Internal Revenue Service; the National Labor Relations Board; the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; the SeniorLAW Center; the Women Against Abuse Legal Center; and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

A hallmark of our externship program is the direct involvement of a faculty supervisor, a full-time member of the faculty who meets at least bi-weekly with the student, providing substantial expertise and reflective components.

http://www.law.villanova.edu/experientiallearning/clinicsandexternships/externships.asp

Classes with a Public Service Component

Children and the Law - This course will begin with an analysis of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It will then explore the division of power over the child between the state and parents, children's constitutional rights in school, parents' privilege to discipline, child abuse and neglect, the sexual abuse of children, state removal of the child from parental custody, foster care, termination of parental rights, and adoption.

Students apply the doctrine and theory learned in this class in a mandatory service-learning project.

Feminist Legal Theory - This course exposes students to the major paradigms of feminist legal thought and their application to a number of contemporary legal problems. It begins with an analysis of the theoretical constructs of legal feminism: formal, constitutional equality; dominance theory; and difference theory. It then grapples with the critique of these paradigms, including ones based on critical race theory and the intersection of gender, class and sexual orientation. After mastering the theories and critiques, the course will apply both to a variety of issues, including sexuality, reproductive rights, rape, pornography, domestic violence and marriage.

Students apply the doctrines and theory learned in this class in a mandatory service-learning project.

Poverty Law - This course engages students in a general study of the history and current reality of poverty in our society, as well as how the legal system has responded to the poor, both through governmental programs and civil justice systems.

Class topics include the history and current demographics of poverty, the antipoverty policy issues that underlie the body of law in the area of social welfare, access to justice and the evolution of legal services to the poor, the development and application of due process and the quest for equal protection and various substantive topic areas.

Students apply the doctrine and theory learned in this class in a mandatory service-learning project.

Villanova Sentencing Workshop - The Sentencing Workshop brings together students, judges, criminal law practitioners and others to discuss sentencing policy through the lens of pre-screened, actual cases.

The heart of the workshop is student-judge interaction, and discussion of real cases during three intensive weekend sessions. Specifically, the workshop will include three sessions, each beginning on a Thursday evening and ending mid-day on Saturday. The workshop participants will include approximately twelve students, eight trial judges, a prosecutor and a defense attorney, and other professionals. Each of the workshop sessions will revolve around actual cases submitted by the judges. Before each workshop session, the participants will review voluminous information on each case (often including source materials such as police reports and court transcripts), determine an appropriate sentence, and prepare a very brief sentencing memorandum explaining his or her sentencing decision. This sentencing information will be distributed to the other workshop participants in order to facilitate discussion of the cases. Most of the sessions will be devoted to discussing the cases and learning about the factors that go into the sentencing decision.

Wrongful Convictions: Causes and Remedies - This course examines the causes of wrongful convictions. Some of the topics covered include eyewitness identification, false confessions and incompetent lawyering.

Public Interest Journals

Environmental Law Journal: Members of the Journal write scholarly articles on topics relating to environmental law and edit and prepare for publication articles written by outside authors. The Journal publishes two issues each year and presents a symposium on a current topic. Students are selected for the Journal at the end of their first or second year through an open writing competition.

Women's Law Forum: The Women's Law Forum (WLF) is an electronic legal publication. It is the first on-line journal at the Villanova University School of Law, and it is designed, edited and published by Villanova Law Students. The WLF serves as a forum for legal scholarship and seeks to educate on legal issues affecting women, to provide a source of information about recent developments in the field and to be a research tool for the legal community. The WLF intends to supplement and expand upon the offerings of traditional print journals. The WLF offers law professors, practicing attorneys, judges and other professionals an opportunity to publish their articles on-line and to electronically engage in discourse with the legal community to discuss and debate these issues. In addition, the WLF seeks to provide law students with the opportunity to comment and respond to publications posted by legal scholars.

The Journal of Catholic Social Thought is jointly published by Villanova University School of Law and the Office of Mission Effectiveness of Villanova University. The Journal is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary publication that brings together authors from the fields of law, theology, philosophy and political theory. Its focus is the rich field of Catholic social teaching and its implications for both theory and practice. Each year the Journal holds an annual symposium on Catholic Social Thought and the Law, and publishes the papers in a special symposium issue. That issue is edited by Villanova law students under the supervision of Dean Mark Sargent.

PI Career Support Center

The Director of Public Service Careers & Pro Bono Programs coordinates the public interest career-related services in the Office of Career Strategy and Advancement. Among her responsibilities are encouraging and supporting students to choose public interest and public service careers by advising them on all aspects of career planning; creating educational programs to promote public service and government careers; and cultivating and maintaining relevant employer relationships.

Throughout the year, the Career Strategy office provides and participates in a variety of educational and recruitment programs to promote public interest careers and increase employment opportunities, such as the Public Interest Public Service (PIPS) Job Fair. In addition, public interest organizations give informational presentations about their work throughout the day. Career Strategy also publicizes the Equal Justice Works Annual Career Fair and assists students who want to travel to Washington, D.C. for the fair.

Career Strategy maintains an extensive collection of public interest materials in its Public Service section of the career library and publishes a public interest handbook, entitled: "Summer Funding Opportunities in Public Interest Law." The current handbook is published on Career Strategy's website. Career Strategy also educates students about the variety of public interest websites, such as PSLawNet, to which Villanova subscribes.

Career Strategy also publishes articles in the weekly Law School newspaper, "Gavel Gazette," about public interest. Recent topics have included government service careers, judicial clerkships and fellowships.

Villanova participates in the Philadelphia Public Interest/Public Service Job Fair, which is sponsored by a consortium of Philadelphia area law schools. PIPS offers students an opportunity to interview with public interest and government employers.

http://www.law.upenn.edu/cpp/pips/

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

The Villanova Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program was started in 2006 by the Public Interest Fellowship Progam. The LRAP is funded through proceeds from our annual public interest auction.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Villanova offers two full-time fellowships to provide a platform for individuals to assist in the teaching of our CARES and Farmworker Clinics. For our Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, we also offer a part-time fellowship to assist in the delivery of legal services and student supervision. The positions provide opportunities for the fellows to receive training in teaching and support for scholarly activities, and is intended to provide a platform for individuals wishing to enter the clinical teaching community.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

The Career Strategy Office connects students and alumni with hundreds of fellowship opportunities through its own database, as well as through PSLawNet. Fellowships are often publicized in the weekly law school newspaper, the Gavel Gazette. The Director of Public Service Careers and Pro Bono Programs also conducts educational programs to assist students with the fellowship application process. Recent Villanova graduates have competed successfully for several fellowships, including the Equal Justice Works and the Independence Foundations fellowships.

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Villanova University School of Law encourages students to pursue careers in public interest law. To facilitate such careers, VUSL has created the Public Interest Scholars Program. Each year, several students are offered a 50% tuition-waiver scholarship based on their past academic achievement, leadership, public interest work and commitment to contribute to public interest endeavors as future practitioners.

Scholars will receive a 50% tuition-waiver scholarship, will be assigned to a professor and a public interest mentor as advisors, and will receive career counseling from the Director of Public Service Careers and Pro Bono Programs. Scholars are required to perform 100 hours of pro bono service while in law school; to participate in one clinical course and either a second clinical course or a non-judicial externship for credit; to satisfy the law school's research paper writing requirement by writing on a public interest topic; and to work in a legal capacity for a public interest organization for at least one of his or her two summers at Villanova. Upon graduation, Scholars will be obligated to engage in at least three years of public interest legal employment within their first five years of post-law school employment. Students interested in the Public Interest Scholars Program should review our website materials: http://www.law.villanova.edu/admissions/publicinterestscholarsprogapp/default.asp.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

A law student organization, the Public Interest Fellowship Program, organizes an auction every year that raises approximately $60,000 for summer fellowships and loan repayment, $4,500 for each selected law student employed at public interest organizations. Prior fellowship recipients have worked at organizations including the Philadelphia AIDS Law Project, the Philadelphia Women Against Abuse Legal Center, the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Health Law Project, Greater Boston Legal Services and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.

http://www.law.villanova.edu/studentservices/studentlife/pifp/

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

A law student organization, the Public Interest Fellowship Program, organizes an auction every year that raises approximately $40,000 for summer fellowships, $4,000 each for law students employed at public interest organizations. Prior fellowship recipients have worked at organizations including the Philadelphia Women's Law Project, the Philadelphia AIDS Law Project, the Philadelphia Women Against Abuse Legal Center, the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Health Law Project, Greater Boston Legal Services and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Specialized Domestic Violence Issues Affecting Same Sex & Transgender Couples - The Gay/Straight Alliance, Family Law Society, Women's Law Caucus, and Women's Law Forum hosted a presentation highlighting the unique domestic violence issues that affect same sex and transgender couples.

APALSA's Bake Sale to Benefit Tsunami Victims in Southeast Asia - APALSA coorindated a sale of baked goods and blue ribbons to raise money for those affected by the Tsunami.

Amnesty International Presents: The Lost Boys of Sudan - Amnesty International presented the critically acclaimed documentary film, "Lost Boys of Sudan," which chronicles the assimilation of Sudanese refugees to their new home, the United States. Marisa Cianciarulo of the CARES Clinic moderated a lecture discussion with our Sudanese speaker, Philip Akol, an undergraduate student here at Villanova.

"A Forum on the Working Poor" featuring Richard Trumka '74 of the AFL-CIO - Richard L. Trumka, a member of the Villanova Law Class of 1974 and Secretary/Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, spoke at Villanova University for an important evening of dialogue on the working poor.

Public Interest Scholars Program Dinner - The Public Interest Scholars Program dinner welcomes the new class of Scholars to Villanova, connects the Scholars with their faculty advisors and public interest mentors, and features a keynote speaker by a noted public interest attorney.

Public Interest Fellowship Program Annual Auction - Founded in 1998, the Public Interest Fellowship Program (PIFP) at the Villanova University School of Law provides financial support to students who commit their summers to public service work. By raising money, PIFP helps students at Villanova who in turn aid the larger community through their work.

Martin Luther King Jr Keynote Speaker - Each year, the MLK Committee of faculty, staff and students coordinates a week of events to honor Dr. King's legacy. The culmination of the week is a keynote address on a public interest topic by an attorney committed to Dr. King's ideal of service to the community.

BLSA Lecture Series - The Black Law Students Association coordinates a number of public service activities, including a lecture series focusing on public interest topics.

Public Interest Brown Bag Lunch Series - In conjunction with the Philadelphia Area Law School Consortium, Villanova collaborates on a weekly brown bag lunch series featuring Philadelphia public interest agencies.

First Monday Event - In conjunction with the Philadelphia Area Law School Consortium, Villanova participates in "First Monday," a lecture series focused on a public interest topic, held annually to celebrate the opening of the Supreme Court term.

Public Interest Speaker Series - The Public Interest Speaker Series features luminaries from the public interest community who are invited to address the student body, faculty and staff of Villanova Law School on a public interest topic of their choosing. Past speakers include Gordon Cooney and Michael Banks, private practitioners who worked on a successful pro bono death penalty appeal; Andrew Chirls, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association and long-time pro bono volunteer; and Marsha Levick, Legal Director of the Juvenile Law Center.

Student Public Interest Groups

Family Law Society

Latin American Law Students Association

Public Interest Fellowship Program

Women's Law Caucus

August 7, 2018