In the past few weeks the world has changed in ways most of us could never have imagined. While much remains unknown, one thing remains stable—the sense of community that both comforts and uplifts us, even in the midst of trying times.
The post below is a riveting reflection from 1L Ryan Kenney, who was among a group of BC Law students on this year’s Gulf Coast Pro-Bono Spring Break trip to Montgomery, Alabama. It was scheduled to be posted several weeks ago, but was postponed due to the emergency situation COVID-19 created. That said, we think the message is too important to go unshared. We will share several other related service trip stories this week.
Stay safe everyone, and please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can do anything to help, or if you would like us to consider publishing a guest post on your own experiences during the outbreak.
When people asked us where we were from and we replied that we were on spring break from Boston College Law School, gently raised eyebrows and clarifying questions invariably followed. As if on cue, our neighbor on the puddle jumper from Charlotte, then the barista, the lobbyist in the state house elevator, and virtually everyone else we encountered who wasn’t already expecting us conferred a “Well, welcome to Alabama!” and a warm smile.
This week, we witnessed how people make, interpret, and execute laws in Alabama.
Each spring, over 60 BC Law students spend their spring break providing pro bono legal services to underrepresented communities and individuals locally and across the country. As a 1L, this was my first experience with a spring break service trip, and I have to say it’s pretty inspiring. BC Law really does have a committed culture of giving back and delivering justice around the world.
This year, 65 students are volunteering at pro bono placements serving:
- communities in the District of Columbia, Navajo Nation and 10 states, including AL, TX, MD, NY, GA, LA, TN & OK
- communities in 12 cities from Harlingen, TX to Baltimore, MD
- 23 organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Navajo Nation, ProBAR, Disability Rights Louisiana, Oxfam America, Volunteer Lawyers Project and Legal Aid of East Tennessee
Here in Montgomery, Alabama, we are spending our spring break working at governmental and nonprofit organizations across the state, and we’re planning on writing more about our experiences when we return. For now, here are some photos from Montgomery of me and my fellow students!
Four hours north of Phoenix, situated almost exactly on the Arizona/New Mexico border, Window Rock is the capital of the Navajo Nation. On March 2, I made the journey west with seven of my classmates to spend a week with the Navajo, learning about their government, law and culture, and doing our best at placements with the Presidents Office, the Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court.
I was fortunate to spend a week at the Supreme Court. The Court itself handles about a dozen cases each year, as well as countless orders and motions relating to those cases. The two of us assigned to the Court spent most of our time researching and writing orders, putting our Law Practice skills to the test. While I personally have a long way to go before I’m comfortable tackling research and writing problems on my own, honing my skills under the direction of the Supreme Court staff was immensely helpful.
“Just a 1L.”
I heard that phrase thrown around a lot when I was researching law schools. You shouldn’t expect to have a lot of stuff to put on your resume because you’re “just a 1L.” You shouldn’t expect to get a “real” job this summer because you’re “just a 1L.” What you have to say and what you bring to the table aren’t as important because you’re “just a 1L.”
So I think we can agree that all those people were very clearly wrong.
Me becoming one with nature at the Desert Botanical Gardens
Greetings from the desert! I’m extremely pleased to be blogging from sunny Phoenix, Arizona – which reminds me a lot of Florida (just substitute cactuses for palm trees). The best part? BC is sponsoring this mini vacation/incredible opportunity to get some hands-on legal experience.
I had the privilege of being selected to go on one of BC’s many spring break service trips. Our Phoenix quintet is spending this week working with The Florence Project, a nonprofit that provides legal services to unaccompanied immigrant minors. Last summer, the influx of children leaving Central America to escape persecution and poverty alerted many (myself included) to the fact that child detention centers are all around the country, often in our own communities. These children, who often speak only Spanish or a dialect from their home country and may be too young to read or write, rely on organizations like The Florence Project to advocate on their behalf in the hopes of reunifying with family members within the U.S., or, at the very least, not being sent back to their home country. In the uphill battle to find grounds for asylum or some other visa that will put these kids on the path to become legal permanent residents, organizations like The Florence Project have to conduct a lot of case research and statute interpretation, not to mention finding out more about the conditions that caused the kids to flee in their countries in the first place.
Hey everyone, my name is Tom. I’m filling in for Rob this week to talk about one of the pro bono service trips open to BC Law 1Ls. There are four different spring break trips through BC Law: the Haiti Service Trip, Navajo Nation Service Trip, Gulf Coast Service Recovery Trip (New Orleans), and the Immigration Law Service Trip (various cities across the U.S.). Rob went on the New Orleans trip last year, and that’s the one I’ll be doing this year.