These Columbia Law School students spent their spring break, offering pro bono legal assistance in New Orleans, Amman, Jordan, and El Paso, Texas.
Every year, many Columbia Law School students opt to spend their spring break providing pro bono legal assistance, sometimes in far-flung locales. During these “caravans,” students work full-time at legal services and public interest organizations for one week, supervised by the organizations’ attorneys. The students get some on-the-ground training, while host organizations have extra help to complete more cases and service more clients. Over 80% of participants received need-based funding provided by Columbia Law School's Public Interest Law Foundation.
Below is just a sample of the work students took on this past spring break.
Kendall Wells ’18, Alex Finkelstein ’17, Ruth O’Herron ’19, Tyler Finn ’19, and Ngozi Esomonu ’19 spent the week in Dilley, Texas. They were helping asylum-seeking mothers and children at an immigrant detention center prepare for interviews in anticipation of their release. The students ensured that their clients’ stories were fully developed and attended their interviews with them. A mother assisted by Finn was released from detention during his week with her.
Several students traveled to Amman, Jordan, with the International Refugee Assistant Program (IRAP). They met with NGOs, such as the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), which creates opportunities for refugees to study English and obtain higher education diplomas, among other services.
Students in an English classroom at the Makani Center in Amman.
Also while in Amman, students were able to take in the historical sites. Here, Robin Gimm ’18 visits the Roman ruins.
Students also worked at the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans. Lilybelle Davis ’18 (second from right) created a case repository on the discriminatory use of peremptory juror strikes in Louisiana.
Outside of work, the students were able to also get a taste of New Orleans. Here, they visited the city’s historic Parkway restaurant.
Brayan Acevedo ’19, Rachel Fleig-Goldstein ’18, Chui-Lai Cheung ’17, Colin Hill ’18, Baldemar Gonzalez ’19, and Meredith Strike ’18 participated in the El Paso caravan. They worked with two legal services providers on Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims, U.S. border wall–related eminent domain issues, citizenship claims, and more. During a tour, they got insight into the challenges of immigration work on the border and in the Paso del Norte region.