May 23, 2006
Since 1988, community service has been a requirement for all JD students at Tulane Law School. After Katrina, this aid became even more important, says Julie Jackson, Assistant Dean for Public Interest Programs. The hurricane led to myriad legal problems, including landlord/tenant issues, actions against insurance companies, bankruptcy filings, disability claims, succession, jury pool challenges and small business issues. Students volunteered with individual attorneys, legal services providers and nonprofits.
Some students worked with organizations the law school has aided in the past, such as the ACLU, AIDSLaw, New Orleans Legal Assistance Corp., the City Attorney’s Office, Federal Public Defenders and the Immigration and Refugee Service of Associated Catholic Charities.
Others contributed pro bono hours to organizations that arose in response to Katrina, such as Common Ground, which provides screening, referral and legal advice to the underserved members of the metropolitan community; Second Wind, an advocacy group focusing on small businesses; and the Louisiana Leadership Initiative, which focuses on rebuilding proposals.
Jackson verified that more that 12,800 pro bono hours have been contributed this year, that's double the students' contribution in previous years. The donation is amazing, she says, in view of the fact that so many students are still dealing with fallout from the storm in their own personal lives. Thanks also goes to the many lawyers supervising the students, especially alumni, who make the pro bono program possible.