The Catholic University of America


CUA Law Students Participate in the DC Alternative
Spring Break Pro Bono Project

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Many students from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (CUA Law) chose to engage in hands-on, law-related volunteer work during their spring break week. Held from March 3rd to 18th, with events taking place from March 3rd to March 24th, the DC Alternative Spring Break Pro Bono Service Project provided students with the opportunity to serve their community, gain exposure to the world of public interest law, build connections with legal services providers, and earn pro bono honors.

CUA Law students were placed at DC Law Students in Court, So Others Might Eat (SOME), Neighborhood Legal Services Program, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Project, Mid Atlantic Innocence Project, Hogar Immigrant Services, and Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition. Students were tasked to assist on a variety of projects, including staffing a detention hotline, assisting with clinic intakes and naturalization workshops, conducting an evaluation project for legal clinics and criminal record sealing motions, and participating in an expungement project. These projects ranged from a single morning or afternoon commitment to a weeklong placement.

The DC Alternative Spring Break Pro Bono Service Project was sponsored by the Columbus School of Law, American University Washington College of Law, George Washington University Law School, and Georgetown University Law Center.

Students also had the opportunity to take part in the "Walk a Month in My Shoes Poverty Stimulation" on March 9th, 2018. 

Student Reactions:

"I will always value the opportunity to work with the people at SOME and to see first-hand the people who benefit from the organization’s work, as well as the opportunity to meet and work with a George Washington law student all week and get to know him and our supervisor.  The week was not only a great way to gain legal experience, but it was also a great way to meet people and see the way the organization takes an active role in the DC community." – Hannah Baker (1L)

"During Alternative Spring Break, I had an opportunity to volunteer for pro bono work, with Hogar Immigrant Services.  The workshop went really well and the staff was very organized. I was assigned at a station to process fee waiver requests for citizenship applicants. Hogar gave thorough training, had experienced attorneys on staff to assist, and even fed us breakfast and lunch. More importantly, helping the applicants through the intimidating process of becoming citizens was very rewarding. The smile on the clients' faces when they realized they qualified for a waiver was touching.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity, and I'm more than willing to volunteer for Hogar again in the future." – Larry McCammon (2E)

"I volunteered for DC Law Students in Court as my alternative Spring Break pro bono project. I participated in their Barring Notice Litigation project. Two other students from GW and myself canvassed various public housing complexes throughout the city and interviewed tenants to acquire data and help prepare the beginning stages of litigation or possible legislation. We encountered many issues with the barring process in public housing as housing conditions. I am grateful for the opportunity to interact with DC residents and the opportunity to teach them how to be informed of their rights and how they to access legal services. I received first-hand experience on the good that a lawyer can do in the community and realized the need for more education and availability of lawyers for the low-income populace of D.C." – Ashnelly Rodriguez, 1L

"For my Alternative Spring Break Experience I was placed with the Mid Atlantic Innocence Project.  I had the opportunity to read the case transcripts of an inmate and give the attorney my recommendation as to if they should proceed with the case. This was an amazing opportunity for me to begin to apply the knowledge I've gained during my first year of law school and it felt great to be entrusted with such a large responsibility and to feel like I was doing work that made a difference!” – April Currey, 1L

“I worked with DC Law Students in Court on their Expungement Project. I spent a portion of the morning learning about DC Expungement Law that was extremely enlightening. I had no idea how difficult it can be to have your record sealed in DC and the process definitely has room to improve. Individuals looking to improve their lives by having their records sealed are not entitled to representation and most can’t afford their own representation so the pro bono work that is done by DC Law Students in Court and other attorneys working on expungement is really valuable.”
– Casey Wiggin, 1L

“For alternative spring break, I volunteered with Neighborhood Legal Services Program. This turned out to be a great experience allowing me to gain practical legal knowledge in a low-risk environment. Throughout the week, I sat in on client meetings, observed the client in-take process, drafted legal memoranda, performed research on relevant DC law, and worked at the Small Claims Resource Center. The atmosphere at NLSP was incredibly welcoming and all the staff were passionate about providing legal services to low income communities and were available to answer any questions regarding the legal profession.”
– Taylor Dontje, 1L