Purpose-Driven Giving: Veronica Valentine McNally, ’04, and Sean P. McNally, ’03

“Sean and I believe in the mission of the College of Law,” said Veronica Valentine McNally, ’04. She and her husband Sean P. McNally, ’03, are active MSU Law alumni; both graduated with honors and earned certifications in the Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute. Sean’s litigation career took him to Troutman Pepper’s Detroit location, where he currently serves as Office Managing Partner, while Veronica is MSU Law’s Assistant Dean for Experiential Education and leads the Fieger TPI.

It was Veronica’s work with MSU Law students that raised her awareness of a specific need within the Law College community: financial support for public interest work. This need inspired the McNallys’ gift to MSU Law in honor of Give Green Day – and in support of future Spartan lawyers.

While overseeing experiential programming, Veronica works closely with students who undertake externships. Externship Sites offer hands-on opportunities to observe the legal and judicial systems at work and engage in relevant legal work supervised by practicing attorneys or judges. Students receive academic credit for their semester-long experience.

She has seen an increasing number of students with an interest in careers in the public interest sector.  “We need passionate lawyers in this sector, and externships help students find meaningful and fulfilling work. Positions in public defender offices, legal aid offices, and non-profit offices that serve vulnerable populations present incredible opportunities for our students to address social and economic injustices.”

But while the benefits are clear, Veronica also sees the same obstacle keeping MSU Law students out of public interest position externships: funding. These positions are often unpaid and students are forced to choose whether to make the sacrifice of gaining experience in favor of paid positions that do not align with their public interest goals.

“In order to work in some of these positions over the summer, some students choose take classes so that they qualify for student loans,” she explained. “They shouldn’t need to do that.”

That’s where additional support from alumni and friends comes in. Veronica and Sean hope that their gift will assist students as they make their way from the classroom to the courtroom – and to inspire other alumni to give as well.

“Even modest gifts can make a big difference,” said Veronica. “I want our community to come together for the students and the community.”