Now in its 14th year, the Spring Break Pro Bono Service program sent students to work at nonprofit organizations across the country.
Thirty-five BU Law students spent their spring breaks volunteering with legal services organizations across the country. In its 14th year, the Spring Break Pro Bono Service Trip program sent students to earn hands-on experience working with attorneys at public service organizations throughout Boston as well as in Arizona, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, and New York.
Conner Kingsley (’21), a JD student blogger, wrote about his experience with the Court Service Center at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston. Read about his pro bono spring break below.
Spring Break Pro Bono
Spring Break should be a time for wild parties, going to the beach, or just getting back home to see family and friends right?
Well, usually that’s the case for me, but for some reason, I decided to apply for BU’s Spring Break Pro Bono trips. BU offers a wide variety of trips to help out those in need of legal services. Places like Detroit, Phoenix, and New Orleans are some of the areas BU has visited. I decided to apply for one of the few Boston pro bono placements mainly because I am thinking of staying here in Boston and want to get acquainted with the legal community. I did want to go to Phoenix to experience warmer climates, but that one required fluency in Spanish—I definitely regret taking French in high school now!
But why would someone give up the chance to kick back and enjoy a margarita on a beach and instead work for 40 hours unpaid? Well first of all, if you’re like me and went straight to law school from undergraduate you have little-to-no legal experience. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the K–JD path—going straight to law school shows your drive to learn and your ability to adapt quickly—among many other things. But, when you are against competition who have been paralegals, have worked with firms before, and who have been working 40 hour weeks for years, you’ve got some catching up to do.
Now, those are the career reasons for doing the pro bono experience with BU, but there is also the gratification you get from helping out your community. I was assigned to work at Court Services in the Family and Probate Court as well as the Housing Court. I shadowed attorneys all week and helped fill out paperwork for pro se (self-represented) litigants. These are people who cannot afford a fancy lawyer to fill out all the paperwork for them to fight evictions, alter child support, or file for divorces. The court services center is relatively new and helps pro se litigants fill out the paperwork correctly the first time so their cases don’t get dismissed and they don’t get the help they need. It was a rewarding experience—emotionally draining—but one of the most educational weeks of my life. You learn a lot in law school, but not as much as you do in the real world.
Further, you can get an idea of the types of lawyers who are in the legal community, and a sense of the type of work that you may want to do. I learned that this is not the type of environment I want to work in, nor is it the subject area that interests me the most. A little disheartening, yet, every day was exciting and it got me even more ecstatic about pursuing a legal career. It made me more confident in my choice of going to law school. I loved helping people achieve their goals and battle through the bureaucracy. That is why I encourage you to participate in a Spring Break Pro Bono trip when you get here. And if you are still in undergraduate, know there are so many legal opportunities you can get involved in to get experience. There were undergraduate interns at the Court Services center literally filling out the exact same paperwork I was filling out for clients!
By Conner Kingsley (’21), originally posted on the BU Law JD Student Blog.
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