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

Monday, February 08, 2010

"...impressed and energized by the zeal, commitment, and the Pro Bono Project"

During the trip, I worked with the outreach attorney at the Pro Bono Project. The Project hosts several outreach clinics each week, where low-income individuals can seek basic legal advice. I helped the outreach attorney research a variety of issues - name change, obtaining Medicaid benefits, pursuing an insurance claim, rights of mental health patients in a hospital, housing code violations, and debt/creditor issues for example - and then prepared client letters or short memos to explain the possible remedy and next steps for the client. Even where a legal remedy did not exist or successfully obtaining a judgment would be unlikely, at best, the willingness to do thorough research and prepare thoughtful communication was the same. Overall, I was impressed and energized by the zeal, commitment, and skill that all the staff at the Project, and the attorney I was working with particularly, had for building a relationship with their clients and advocating on their behalf. My experience made me very interested in understanding the particular challenges in working with low-income clients, many of which are struggling with homelessness, unemployment, or disability. It is evident that even more than four years after Hurricane Katrina, the city is still struggling to provide adequate services for low-income individuals, those who were displaced by the hurricane, and others who are still searching for stability after the storm, making the work of organizations like the Pro Bono Project even more critical. --Mary Irvine

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