And, indeed they were. Winter temperatures across the country often bring Northern birds to our warmer Southern climate. In spite of our unusually cold temperatures, law students from the University of Wisconsin Law School and the University of Illinois College of Law were happy to be here on their Winter Break instead of in their home states, and we were delighted to have them.
Bustling around the office, and of course, laughing with us about our 'cold' temperatures, the students brought a warmth of their own to The Pro Bono Project's staff, clients and volunteers.
Working alongside staff, these lawyers-to-be offered their support as The Project's staff conducted a Divorce Workshop for clients. With their help, The Project was able to prepare the paper work on 20 divorce cases, after which the students went to court to file the documents accompanied by Staff Paralegal Zakiya LaGrange.
In addition, our Chief Legal Officer Linton Carney put them to work on the many administrative tasks that must be done to either get a case placed with a volunteer lawyer or close out one that is completed.
The students from Wisconsin spent a portion of their time working with Staff Lawyer Chris Coty on succession cases, which continue to be a significant part of The Project's caseload. They also worked a shift at the Orleans Civil District Court Self-Help Desk, where they assisted self-represented litigants with court-approved forms for family law matters.
Both the Wisconsin and Illinois students went to an event held weekly at a local church where homeless people receive clothes and food. This was the first time The Project went to this outreach and the students did intake for clients, who were hoping to get civil legal help from The Project. As well, the Illinois students went with Staff Lawyer Darin Britt and volunteer attorney, Charmel Gaulden to the weekly clinic where The Project works to help the homeless get SSI benefits.
"Mentoring law students who express an interest in public interest work and showing them the reality of its challenges and rewards is one of The Project's most important roles. It's an investment in the future for our organization and our clients," said The Project's Carney.
As Spring approaches, and hopefully it will soon for everyone, our next group of Law Students will find their way to The Project's door to get the hands-on experience that we offer them, as well as a look inside the world of public interest law. So far, students from Drake University Law School are scheduled to arrive around March 17th, and we expect that St. Paddy will be coming with them.
It never fails that at least several of the students who come to work with us end up changing their minds about the type of law they want to practice and ultimately choose public service law as their specialty. We're thrilled to play a part in shaping the career path of these future lawyers.