Not everyone went directly home for the holidays. A few law students actually spent the week working at The Pro Bono Project, with staff attorneys Pat Guzman-Weema and Jenny Abshier, paralegal Zakiya LaGrange and Managing Atttorneys Jesse George and Kathleen Legendre.
Six of the best and brightest from George Washington Law traveled to New Orleans the week of December 19, escaping a chilly Washington D.C. in the process.
Although pro bono work is not mandatory at GW Law, the six students wanted the experience that The Project provides. Students from GW Law have been coming to The Project since after Katrina and so they are no stranger to us.
While at The Project, the students worked with the staff on many different learning opportunities. They filed paperwork and went to court with Zakiya on divorce; they helped Pat with her Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) clinic and also attended a court hearing. Severalassisted with Jesse’s bankruptcy files and drafted pleadings for Jenny’s succession work. They also reviewed available case matters for volunteer attorneys and contacted our volunteer attorneys to receive updates on cases placed with them.
"Alaa came with me to a bankruptcy court motion day. She got to see the federal courthouse at 500 Poydras and the newly renovated bankruptcy clerk’s office. She listened to motions from creditors, debtors, and the trustee for about two hours and found it all very informative and interesting - she had only seen criminal proceedings prior, so this was an entirely different experience. While here, Alaa was able to learn about the different types of bankruptcy and how a chapter 13 case works. She also witnessed the action and excitement as motions were argued by about twenty different attorneys, including motions to dismiss, motions to lift stay and take back property, and motions to modify a plan," said staff Successions Attorney, Jenny Abshier.
Pat Guzman-Weema took one student to immigration court for a hearing. "Zohal came with me to immigration court. She was able to observe the very unique immigration court proceedings. She told me that she had never attended court and was so grateful for the opportunity to see the law in action."
While working with Jenny, Iryna completed three small succession affidavits, and her student colleague Leanza drafted a testate succession. Afterwards, Jenny spent time talking with them about the different ways that property transfers before and after death Louisiana and how it is a bit different from other states. They also discussed how learning about successions and probate can help them once they are on their own, especially if they decide to work for themselves.
Jenny also provided some insights on the many different paths they can take as they shape their futures with the legal profession. For instance, she talked with them about the differences between being a transactional attorney versus being a trial attorney, and about other avenues they could pursue, like becoming a brief writer or mediator.
"The whole group of students was inquisitive and interested, and I have a feeling they will all grow into exceptional attorneys in the future," said Jenny.
Managing Attorney for Volunteer Engagement Kathleen Legendre agrees. "They were a great group and took the initiative to come down on their own. We loved having them in the office and we look forward to their return to The Project, as well as to the many other law school interns that visit over the course of a year."