No sooner did our law students from Georgetown Law depart, then did our bevy of first year law students from Drake Law arrive to get an early glimpse of Spring for a few days during the week of March 16-20. We immediately put them to work with staff and volunteers on succession cases, a divorce workshop and other projects.
Here's what a few of them had to say about their experience at The Project.
My internship at the Pro Bono project was very enlightening. I had the chance to work on successions, which was a great experience. ... I was also very surprised to discover how close the system of successions in Louisiana is close to the system that we use in my home country - France. We also had the opportunity to go file petitions at two different court house, and it was interesting to discover the flip side of court, especially for me as an exchange student who is used to a very different system.
My week volunteering at The Pro Bono project was an experience I will never forget. As a first year law student at Drake University, we have limited chances to do on hands legal work until after our first year so working here before the year was over was a great opportunity. From the beginning and throughout the entire week everyone at The Project was extremely helpful and willing to explain how not only The Project works, but also how the legal system in Louisiana works.
We spent the week working on divorce petitions and filings. Monday and Tuesday we prepared for Wednesday’s divorce clinic. We also were able to file petitions in both Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish when Zakiya brought us to the court house. Working on the petitions was a valuable lesson in Civil Procedure and how important every last detail is in the legal system.
On Wednesday we had the opportunity to run the divorce clinic. We were able to meet some of the clients and really saw how beneficial to New Orleans The Pro Bono Project is. I really appreciated the respect we were shown by everyone at The Project, staff and clients both. The responsibilities we had this week only solidified my decision to become a lawyer. I want to thank everyone at The Pro Bono Project for giving us this opportunity and I hope that someday I can come back and volunteer here again!
During my week at The Pro Bono Project I worked on succession cases from clients with relatives who passed away both intestate and testate. I learned how to identify heirs and legatees, and how to allocate the assets of decedents who pass away intestate. Mr. Coty instructed the Succession Group on how to use templates he had drafted for previous clients, and adapt them to meet the needs of new clients. Additionally, I helped to create a research project on recent updates to legislation concerning Safety Plans for juveniles. In order to complete the research project I became familiar with the Louisiana Legislature’s website.
Being able to volunteer at the Pro Bono Project has proved to be an invaluable asset towards my legal education. Here I was not only able to gain quality hands-on experience, but I was also able to serve others along the way.
Within a matter of only a few days, my classmates and I drafted legal documentation, filed petitions at two parish courthouses, and organized a legal workshop that brought in over thirty clients. I am confident my knowledge gained at The Pro Bono Project will directly transfer to the classroom and, without a doubt, go down as one of the highlights of my law school career.
Marie De Franca
My experience at the Pro Bono Project in New Orleans was really great. There were two types of law to do, and I was on the divorce team. The first two days of the internship were all about how to file for a divorce. We wrote petitions for the divorces and learned how to search the relevant information in the files. We also prepared for Wednesday morning: the day we met the clients. We called them to advise them of this appointment and organized the files. On Wednesday morning we met the clients and learned how to talk and work with them. We also went, during these days, to the districts courts of Jefferson and Orleans Parish, to see what happened to the cases once we filed them. That was a really helpful and interesting experience.
My experience with the Pro Bono Project gave me an opportunity as a student to work hands on with clients. Working with Zakiya, as well as the rest of the staff, was fantastic. She gave us the materials we needed to get started and be successful. We all got an opportunity to take charge and work a divorce clinic.
Opportunities like that are so much more valuable than anything I could get from sitting in a law class. It’s one thing to listen and take notes on how to file a petition, it is another to walk right on over to the courthouse to do it yourself. It’s because of The Pro Bono Project we got to do stuff like that, something a lot of first year law students don’t get to do! As a student who wants to work in the public service, coming to The Project to volunteer was something I won’t ever forget!
At The Pro Bono Project here in New Orleans, along with being able to help those who were less fortunate, I was given first-hand experience talking to clients over legal matters and doing real life research. Everyone in the office was helpful, kind, and professional. I helped with finishing paperwork on divorce cases, filing those cases, and then researching bankruptcy cases.
Because of this experience, I am more comfortable applying what I have learned in school to the practice of law. To mention that I have worked at The Pro Bono Project to potential employers has always been looked upon favorably. I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to serve some of the people of Louisiana.