Venable Foundation’s Public Interest Fellowship Program Celebrates its 9th Year of Providing Fellowships to First-Year Law Students Committed to Public Service

3 min

New York City, NY (May 15, 2017) – Continuing its commitment to advancing legal support for the public sector, Venable LLP has awarded four public interest fellowships to students from Fordham Law School, New York University Law School, and Columbia University School of Law who are undertaking public service internships this summer with nonprofits or government entities.

Launched by the firm's New York office in 2008, the Venable Foundation Public Interest Fellowship provides financial support to first-year law students in New York who are pursuing public service internships in New York City or in other cities where Venable maintains an office. The Fellowship recipients are chosen on the basis of their academic performance, demonstrated qualities of leadership, and commitment to the use of the law to further the public good.

"Work in the public sector is the backbone of our legal system. We are pleased to be aiding law students in pursuing their passions within the public sector, and congratulate the 2017 fellowship class for their commitment to public service and for achieving positions within such important and diverse organizations," said Mark Vecchio, co-chair of Venable's Corporate group in New York, who founded the program and has overseen its development.

Matt McLaughlin, New York's partner-in-charge, added, "Across the firm, so many of our lawyers have come to us from distinguished public sector positions, have tremendous government experience, and are active in pro bono matters at the firm and in their communities. We are proud to support a new generation of law students and hope the fellowship will inspire more students in New York to pursue public service."

The 2017 fellows are:

  • Clara Kent (Columbia), who will be working at the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office.
  • Leena Widdi (Fordham), who will be working at Brooklyn Defender Services in the Family Defense and Integrated Defense Practice.
  • Nicholas Prey (NYU), who will be working at Environment America, an environmental advocacy organization.
  • Gerardo Romo (NYU), who will be working at the Immigrant Defense Project.

In prior years, students have used the Fellowship to support their work at such varied organizations as the New York Legal Assistance Group, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Court of International Trade, the National Women's Law Center, South Brooklyn Legal Services, ACLU of Southern California, Immigration Legal Services, the Northern Virginia Capital Defender's Office, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, among others.

Established in 1983, the Venable Foundation works to promote the health and well-being of the communities where Venable's clients and attorneys work and live. In 2016, the Foundation gave more than $3 million in contributions to a wide variety of organizations, continuing a long tradition of unparalleled giving, which complements the pro bono legal work and community service of Venable attorneys and staff. Our contributions last year placed us in the top five law firms nationally with regard to charitable donations. The Foundation supports a wide range of civic, cultural, and charitable endeavors, as well as public interest law and legal education.


Venable LLP is an American Lawyer Global 100 law firm headquartered in Washington, DC that serves as primary counsel to a worldwide clientele of large and mid-sized organizations, nonprofits, and high-net-worth entrepreneurs and individuals. With over 600 attorneys across the country, including California, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Virginia, and Washington, DC, the firm strategically advances its clients' business objectives in the U.S. and around the globe. Venable advises clients on a broad range of business and regulatory law, legislative affairs, complex litigation, and the full range of intellectual property disciplines.