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Volunteer Spotlight Published March 30, 2023

Serena Gopal

Meet March’s Volunteer of the Month!

Meet Serena Gopal, Litigation Associate at Blank Rome, former VIP intern, and our Volunteer of the Month for March! Serena’s legal career began in college when she worked for a small law firm. She enjoyed honing her trial advocacy skills, both as an exercise in crafting effective arguments and as a way to benefit her community. Serena went to Villanova School of Law, and while there interned with VIP.

Serena recalls that during her last week interning at VIP, she was having difficulty finding a volunteer attorney for a client. She knew she was about to start as a summer associate with Blank Rome, and that their pro bono program was strong. Serena asked a partner at Blank Rome to mentor her on the case, and so she transitioned from VIP intern to VIP volunteer. Because of the firm’s strong pro bono program and the willingness of a partner to mentor her, Serena was able to take her first deposition in an arbitration case as a summer associate and settled the case for the client.

I learned early on that when volunteers enter their names and appearances on a case, it can change everything for a client. Having a big law firm involved changes the trajectory of the case. As attorneys, we have worked hard to get this superpower that not everyone has, and we can use it in a powerful and meaningful way.

Serena joined the firm as a litigation associate after graduating. “The transition from VIP intern to a corporate attorney volunteer gave me a new perspective,” Serena said. “My priority as a VIP intern was to get matters placed and have a volunteer take it on. Now, as an attorney, I take responsibility for a matter and need to see it through. My goals and intentions are always the same, to get the best result that I can for the client.”

Serena understands that volunteering can be intimidating. “Once you get people over that initial hurdle, volunteering is the best thing ever. You never regret taking on a pro bono case,” Serena said. “VIP makes it so easy for us, you give us a template and support from the staff and it’s easy. I think everyone should make the leap and try it.”