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Penn State Law students go pro bono over spring break
March 18, 2010
While many law students spend spring break catching up on rest and relaxation before the end of the semester crunch, Penn State Law students Hannah Suhr ’11 and Eunice Yang ’12 spent their break as public service volunteers in the Public Interest Law Fund’s Alternative Spring Break program.
Started in 2007, the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program encourages students to embrace their public interest responsibilities as lawyers by doing public interest work instead of soaking up the sun on a sandy beach. For the past three years, a group of Penn State Law students which included Suhr, traveled to New Orleans to help victims of Hurricane Katrina rebuild their homes and lives.
The Association of American Law Schools hosted its 2010 Annual Meeting in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. As a tribute to the outcry of supporters from around the world who helped alleviate the suffering of those affected by Katrina, AALS Immediate Past President Rachel F. Moran, invited faculty members to nominate schools, individuals and programs for inclusion in the Hurricane Katrina Honor Roll. Penn State Law students Monica Ansay ’11, Amber Bireley ’10, Lynn Long ’10, Valerie Potell ’11, Alexis Snyder ’10, and Hannah Suhr ’11 are among those listed on the honor roll, A Spirit of Service in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina, for their work with the Student Hurricane Network.
This year’s ASB projects organized with help from David Trevaskis, pro bono coordinator for the Pennsylvania Bar Association, included serving as jurors for the Regional High School Mock Trial competition, talking with high school students about post-high school career options, and participating in the Wills for Heroes program.
“I had a terrific experience working under Hannah and David,” says Yang. “I've long had an interest in public interest law and I was amazed to see how much work there is to be done, but at the same time pleasantly surprised to see how much work is already being done.”
Working side-by-side with an experienced attorney, Suhr helped prepare estate documents during the Wills for Heroes program on March 6 at the Second Alarmers Rescue Squad in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Nearly sixty local area first responders took advantage of the program.
“Working in public interest is an eye-opening experience,” says Suhr. “We read about needs, but participating firsthand makes what we read a reality. I strongly encourage students interested in public interest law to consider participating in this worthwhile and rewarding program next year.”
Co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Wills for Heroes provides free will and other basic estate documents to first responders including police, fire and emergency medical personnel in Pennsylvania. Staffed by lawyer and law student volunteers, Wills for Heroes brings lawyer volunteers directly to the first responders by offering the program at community sites, meeting halls and police and fire stations.
“The volunteer work that Hannah and Eunice provided during their spring break, is a great reflection of the public interest spirit of Penn State Law students,” said Trevaskis. “We look forward to working with more Penn State Law students in the future.”