Last week marked the sixth year of the Drake Law New Orleans volunteer trip with the Pro Bono Project. In 2012 Drake Law was recognized with an award from the Pro Bono Project and the Louisiana State Bar Association because of our work through this annual trip.
The ten first-year law students participating in the trip cumulatively put in 240 hours of volunteer work with the Pro Bono Project of New Orleans. The volunteer trip provides students with a cultural, educational, and professional experience that ties what they learn in the classroom to real life.
For many students, this was their first experience with clients and an opportunity to discover that the skills they have can truly make a difference.
“Buried in the busy daily law school agenda, we, as students, often times forget how meaningful this profession can be to the public at large,” says Brooke Yang. “It was a fulfilling and enjoyable experience and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in, and I had so much fun while doing meaningful work with my fellow students.”
Students volunteered at the Pro Bono Project of New Orleans four days. Each year students are assigned projects as needed by the Pro Bono project. This year, every student had contact with clients and went to court. Students worked on drafting and filing divorce petitions, drafting succession affidavits, located medical records and psychological records from local hospitals, including working with clients to sign HIPAA waivers, researched and interviewed clients in an elder abuse case, plus much more.
“The trip to New Orleans provided me and my fellow law students with a valuable insight to nonprofit legal work,” says Chris Merkle. “We worked on a variety of much need projects, including working on property successions, filling out petitions for divorce, and carrying out legal research.”
Since its founding in 1986, Pro Bono Project has been dedicated to representing clients of limited means and improving access to justice. Pro Bono Project utilizes talented and caring attorneys who volunteer their time and energy to work on full and limited scope pro bono cases in family law, domestic violence, consumer law, and federal practice.
Merkle added, “I intend to pursue a career in public interest law, so this experience was both relevant and rewarding.”