Tuesday March 6, 2007

Spring Breakers Are on Right Side of Law

About 30 law students will spend their spring breaks performing fact finding, data entry, research, and interviewing duties in a variety of legal areas as part of Hurricane Student Network.

Third-year University of Dayton law student Molly Buckman knew where to get real experience as disaster was becoming part of her law school vocabulary.

Buckman and about 30 classmates will spend their spring break, April 2-6, performing free legal services in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina under the supervision of legal professionals.

They will perform fact finding, data entry, research, and interviewing duties in a variety of legal areas as part of Hurricane Student Network, which comprises law students nationwide, according to Buckman.

"They need help with any area of law you can think of," said Buckman, who saw this as perfect timing as she had just started planning an independent study course around disaster law.

Federal Emergency Management Agency-related issues and documenting damage for insurance purposes will involve property law. Students with a background in election law will help local governments set up elections. Criminal law students will help interview people in jail awaiting trial for misdemeanors.

Buckman said more than 30 law schools participated in the Student Hurricane Network last year. Law students donated nearly 68,000 hours, or the equivalent of 32 full-time attorneys doing hurricane relief work.

The UD students' work will apply toward the UD School of Law's pro bono pledge as well as give them valuable practical experience. UD encourages its incoming law students to sign an agreement that states they will complete 50 hours of pro bono or community service before they graduate.

In addition to fundraisers like a Mardi Gras bake sale, the UD president's office, the UD School of Law, the American Bar Association and Dayton law firm Dyer Garofalo Mann & Schultz have contributed to the students' trip.

For interviews, contact Shawn Robinson at 937-229-3391.