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

Monday, March 14, 2011

Introduction to Legal Experience

Being a 1L with virtually no prior legal experience, I was not sure what to expect going into this trip. All I did know was that I loved New Orleans - having lived there for several years - and I was excited to help the city in any way I could. Working with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, I quickly learned how much responsibility the legal profession entails. Our attorney was the last hope for many of his clients, and he had a huge number of cases assigned to him. In an understaffed and underfunded office whose phone lines and internet regularly went down, we quickly learned how the practice of law here was anything but glamorous. While they attorneys cared very much about their clients, there was only so much they could do in the circumstances. It was an unfortunate reminder that justice is often limited by resources.

Our attorney specialized in bankruptcy and contractor fraud cases. I dealt specifically with two cases in which homeowners could no longer afford to make their mortgage payments after their homes had been severely damaged by Katrina. My cases had been at a standstill for a while because there was no clear legal solution to the predicament, but I was able to some research and come up with a few possible legal theories that could support their cases. Knowing I helped move the cases forward and brought these clients one step closer towards a resolution was a very rewarding experience.

Overall, the New Orleans pro bono trip was very enlightening. I feel as if I learned significantly more about both the legal profession and the New Orleans community in my short time there. I saw firsthand how Katrina's devastation still haunts the area today, and I am grateful that I was able to help some people overcome the burdens of their past in order to bring them a more promising future.

Kelsey Feeheley


Post a Comment

<< Home