For the Good of the Gulf: UNC Law Winter/Spring Break Pro Bono Project

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coming Full Circle

Two years ago, I wrote several posts about my experiences in New Orleans as a first year law student. On that trip, I learned a lot of things. I talked to a client for the first time. I learned what it’s like to have someone depend on me to meet his or her legal needs. I discovered that helping an overworked office means being patient and may not always be as fun and glamorous as one might hope.

I returned this year as a different person to a different city. In the past two years, I’ve worked in several different arenas of indigent defense, and I’ve taken four more semesters of law school classes. In the meantime, New Orleans was growing too. As our caravan of three minivans crossed the bridge into the city on Sunday night, lights shone brightly in areas that stood dark two years ago. The Orleans Public Defender Office, that didn’t have its phones set up in 2006, has a much bigger staff and a more fine-tuned office.

Yet, many things haven’t changed. The houses on our drive to the office are still boarded up from Katrina, and I even worked on a case based on an incident before the storm.

Working with a busy office also hasn’t changed much. I’m not counseling clients or arguing motions but instead working on legal research and writing projects. It’s not glamorous work, but it’s necessary work. The research that I did today was research that my supervising attorney doesn’t have the time in her busy schedule to do and helped ensure that all of her clients were getting the best representation possible. It may only be a week-long project, but I know that what we’ve done matters. We might not see it now, but we lightened the load of several attorneys and we brought peace of mind to several defendants.

Thanks again to all of you who have supported our trip. And, thanks to all of my fellow classmates for your work. Even if you don’t realize it yet, you are making a difference.


  • Thanks so much for helping the people of New Orleans. I lived there once and my son is a student at Tulane. My heart was broken by Hurrican Katrina and I'm proud of the law studens from my alma mater for helping out. Thanks again!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:01 PM  

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