Pro Bono Program Alumni Newsletter

Pro Bono Program Alumni Newsletter: Thursday, January 21, 2010

Welcome to the Pro Bono Alumni Newsletter!

Greetings!

I'm Alexis Chappell, and I'm the Alumni Coordinator on the Pro Bono Board at Carolina Law. You have received this email because you showed interest in pro bono service while you were in law school at UNC, and we thought you would be interested in reconnecting with what's going on with the Pro Bono Program now. I will send you an email only once a month with an update about what we're doing and how you can get involved. Please feel free to email me at probonoalumni@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

In This Issue

  • Winter break pro bono projects -- our largest student participation ever!
  • Fifth annual pro bono trip to New Orleans
  • Spotlight on Emily Kirby and Rebecca Fleishman ('10), Pro Bono Students of the Month
  • Discover the many ways you can support pro bono at Carolina Law--including volunteering on our upcoming spring break trips!

Alumni News You Can Use

Before the end of the fall semester, students signed up to complete pro bono projects over winter break. Although the sign-up officially started at 7 am, students were so excited about the projects that they began arriving at 4 am!


Students waited patiently for the start of Winter Break Sign-Up

Approximately 104 law students signed up to complete pro bono projects with 33 law firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. In addition to completing projects in North Carolina, students also worked on projects in Texas, New York, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Students signed up for pro bono projects in areas such as mortgage foreclosure, civil rights, immigration law, criminal prosecution and defense, domestic violence, disability law, education law, property and land use law, and housing law.

Many thanks for our alumni who submitted projects, including Toolsi Meisner ('05), Meredith Nicholson ('99), and Jennifer Marsh ('09). We had the largest student participation to date, and we couldn't have done it without alumni support!

Pro Bono Trips: Experiencing Our Education

Twenty lucky UNC Law students attended the fifth annual pro bono trip to New Orleans at the beginning of January. As you may remember, UNC Law was the first law school who volunteered pro bono legal services in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the Pro Bono Program's Special Trips Coordinator organizes annual student trips to the area.

This year, the law students drove from Chapel Hill to The Big Easy to provide support and legal services with the office of the Orleans Public Defenders and The Pro Bono Project. The ten students who worked at the Orleans Public Defenders worked with the office's attorneys and interviewed clients for first appearance hearings, translated legal documents, visited clients in jail, and prepared bond arguments. At The Pro Bono Project, the students prepared pro se divorce petitions for indigent clients and filed the paperwork in district court. The students also researched land succession issues and drafted related affidavits. The law students completed over 700 hours of pro bono legal services in less than a week! You can check out blog postings from the students at http://forthegoodofthegulf.blogspot.com/.


UNC Law students volunteering with the Pro Bono Project in New Orleans

The students are extremely indebted to the three wonderful attorneys from Kilpatrick Stockton who volunteered their time, energy, and expertise to assist the students and the organizations. Many thanks to everyone who supported this wonderful trip--thanks to the generous alumni donations and the students' fundraising efforts, we were able to provide funding for all 20 students on the trip!

Pro Bono In Action

Rebecca Fleishman & Emily Kirby

Pro Bono Students of the Month


Rebecca Fleishman & Emily Kirby ('10)

Total Pro Bono Hours: Rebecca - 109 and Emily - 113.5

While Rebecca Fleishman and Emily Kirby have both done a variety of pro bono projects since starting law school, they have also found that working with a friend to tackle pro bono projects can make them seem less intimidating. According to Rebecca "teaming up with a friend to do some of the more challenging projects made me feel a lot more comfortable getting my 'litigation feet' wet." And for Emily, "Rebecca and I shared a lovely pro bono morning on Election Day 2008, beginning at 5 am to help man the phones for the Center for Civil Rights' Election Protection Hotline. The excitement that day was palpable. It was one of the most exciting days of law school, and probably of my life."

Rebecca started doing pro bono over winter break of her 1L year with Alliance for Justice. Since then, she has embarked on several different pro bono journeys: doing immigration work with the NC Justice Center and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, working on cases with the UNC Innocence Project, and most recently getting experience in the court room with the UNC Domestic Violence Action Project (DVAP). For Rebecca, "My pro bono work has let me apply what I learn in class to real world situations. This semester, I tried to challenge myself to do more practical work, and I am really pleased with how much I learned. Pro bono has added an entirely different and extremely valuable dimension to my law school experience."

Emily began her pro bono work during her 2L year with Election Protection work and Know Your Rights Presentations with the Immigration Law Association. Emily describes, "pro-bono work definitely renewed my faith in law school when I was feeling jaded about the experience my 2L year. It was so refreshing to get out of the classroom and actually talk to people, and maybe, hopefully (in some small way) help them. It was also a great way to meet other lawyers in the area who have dedicated their lives to public interest work." Emily has done a great deal of community outreach work through her assistance with the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services' intake day, the North Carolina Bar Association's 4ALL Service Day and Project Homeless Connect.

Both Emily and Rebecca's dedication to pro bono make them January's Students of the Month!

How You Can Support Pro Bono at UNC Law

The Pro Bono Program has come so far in a few short years, but we need your support to continue our mission. There are three ways that you can support the pro bono program at Carolina Law:

We Need Volunteer Attorneys for Spring Break! : We have two pro bono trips planned for spring break (March 8-12)--one in the Boone area, and one in eastern NC. Students will be preparing wills and other advanced directives, and we need attorneys to help review these documents! If you are interested in receiving more information about volunteering to help with these trips, please email Louis Massard, Special Trips Coordinator, at louismassard@gmail.com.

Submit a project: Law students can help you with everything from research and writing to interviewing clients. When you submit a project, you can specify if you prefer a 2L or 3L to work, the time commitment, any specific skills required, etc. You can even submit a project online. Students can do projects both during the school year and over winter and spring breaks. If you have any questions, please email Lauren Felter, the Attorney Projects Coordinator, at uncprobonoprojects@gmail.com or consult our FAQ webpage.

Provide financial support: Finally, your financial support is incredibly beneficial to us. The support of our donors help us continue to allow students to come on pro bono trips at a very low cost to themselves, thus helping ensure that personal finance is no barrier to doing pro bono work. You can donate online (please select "Pro Bono Program").


Please consider supporting the Pro Bono Program in any way that you can, and please don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions. I hope everyone had a joyful holiday season, and be on the lookout for more great things to come from the Pro Bono Program in 2010!

Go Heels,

Alexis

Alexis Chappell
Alumni Coordinator
UNC Law Pro Bono Program
Students and Lawyers Making a Difference
http://www.law.unc.edu/studentlife/probono/