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Law360 Profiles First Squire Patton Boggs Deans' Circle Sustained Impact Fellowship in Puerto Rico

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Law360 profiled the first Squire Patton Boggs Deans' Circle Sustained Impact Fellowship in Puerto Rico, which CUA Law student Edmarie Rosario Marin (1L), received.
The Fellowship will focus on disaster relief, community rebuilding and access to justice in post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico. The purpose of the first Sustained Impact Fellowship is to provide pro bono legal services over a multiyear period. The Foundation-Deans’ Circle partnership will address this challenge by placing a series of Fellows from different Fellowship Law Schools to do this pro bono work during the summers of at least the next three years.

The idea for the fellowship began in 2018, when another student from the University of Miami Law School used the foundation’s fellowship program to fund a summer working on legal aid in Puerto Rico. With the help of the foundation’s Dean’s Circle, a group of deans of 16 law schools around the country that place students in the Squire foundation’s summer fellowships, the foundation put together an inaugural program for 2019 on the island.
“There is huge, huge damage there that is not being tended to,” Squire Patton Boggs Foundation President John Oberdorfer said. “The problems are, from every indication, entrenched and need a great deal of attention. We thought this was a good place and a good way for us to dedicate our talent and our energies.”

Thousands of Puerto Ricans are still battling the federal agency over hurricane aid denied because they don’t hold the titles to their properties, even if they’ve lived in them for decades. In Puerto Rico, where property law stems from Spanish civil law, as opposed to the English common law used on the mainland U.S., changing the name on a property’s title can be a protracted and expensive process that involves attorneys and sometimes land surveyors and engineers.

In addition to concentrating legal services on disaster relief and community rebuilding for an extended period, the goal of the Sustained Impact Fellowship is to provide a model for others on how to bring and direct sustained pro bono legal services to the rebuilding of communities in Puerto Rico and other places recently devastated by disaster. The program will be creating skills and a knowledge base that can be used at regions impacted at a future date.

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