Click the slide show above to hear LAW students talk about their volunteer work in New Orleans.
In March, 24 students from the School of Law traveled to New Orleans to work for the Student Hurricane Network (SHN), a group that brings law students to the Gulf Coast to provide free legal assistance to communities struggling with hurricane recovery.
New Orleans, for example, has accumulated a backlog of criminal trials since Katrina struck in August 2005, and many families and individuals need help filing housing and damage claims.
The BU students, accompanied by Maura Kelly, LAW associate director of career development, worked for the district attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, the Red Cross, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Moving Forward Gulf Coast, and the SHN Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailer legal intake project. They spoke with people who had lost their homes, jobs, and school systems and those living in FEMA trailers and facing the deadline to find alternative housing.
“Many people cannot prove that they are homeowners, so they cannot get money to rebuild,” Kelly says. “Family members who lived with relatives in homes are not entitled to any money, so they lost all of their belongings and have no home and no hope of getting money to start over. Attorneys and law students are desperately needed in both the civil and criminal systems.”
Many of the LAW students plan to return to New Orleans and continue their work with SHN this summer. “Our students worked hard and took everything in with compassion, sensitivity, intelligence, and righteous anger,” Kelly says. “We are needed.”
Jessica Ullian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.