Welcome back for our 2019 Law School Spring Break profiles. Today we are focusing on the University of Arkansas School of law and The University of Richmond School of Law. During Spring Break 2019, both of these schools had students doing pro bono work to assist individuals with estate planning and wills work.
University of Arkansas School of Law
During Spring Break 2019, University of Arkansas School of Law students participated in Legal Aid of Arkansas's Spring Break on the Road to Justice. The students were part of a group that, under the supervision of Legal Aid and volunteer attorneys, traveled around the state providing estate planning services to elderly individuals in rural communities. As part of their training, our students learned about access to justice issues as well as estate planning basics. The group provided free legal assistance to a total of 74 individuals and produced 207 documents over the course of their three-day trip.
Students that participated in the trip had the following to tell us about their experiences:
What impact did the trip have on you as a law student?
As a law student, this trip gave me an insight to what actual practice will be like outside of the classroom. It is so important to be studious and enhance the skills to thrive in the classroom, but getting to enhance your people skills as well as apply the knowledge on property and contracts to real life situations is something that the classroom can’t offer. As a student, it gave me a better idea as to what my future career may look like as well as experience for when I do go out and practice."—Sara Koch, University of Arkansas School of Law Student
What would you tell other students interested in this opportunity next year?
I would tell other students that are interested in this opportunity next year that the time you will take to enhance the skills that we do not get to readily practice day to day is worth giving up some of the limited personal time we receive. Although you may not be sleeping in everyday or on a typical vacation, coming back to class knowing that you made an impact as well as gained skills to become a better professional in your field is rewarding and builds confidence in yourself."—Sara Koch
What was one of your best or most memorable experiences?
While at the Marion County Senior Activity & Wellness Center in Flippin, AR, I was helping a woman draft a last will & testament. During the encounter, she thanked me for helping her because if not for us providing the service for free, she would’ve had to “pay an attorney 175 dollars” to draft one for her. For a lot of the people we helped, paying an attorney to draft wills for them was not something they could afford to do. It was really rewarding to be able to help people in such a crucial, and emotionally challenging, moment in their lives.”—Julian Sharp, University of Arkansas School of Law Student
What did you learn from your experience?
Aside from learning how to draft the different documents we provided for the clients, I also learned how to interact with people who require important legal services which may be during a difficult time in their life.—Julian Sharp
University of Richmond School of Law
Every year, through the University of Richmond School of Law’s Alternative Spring Break programming, students give back to the local community through pro bono work. In March 2019, students partnered with attorneys from Williams Mullen to work with Wills for Seniors, a program designed to provide low-income seniors and families in Central Virginia with a simple will, power of attorney, and advance medical directive.
The Wills for Seniors program saw a number of new Richmond Law faces this year, including 1L Sarah Clemens. “I knew I wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to volunteer and get more experience,” said Clemens. Not only did Wills for Seniors check both boxes, it also reaffirmed her appreciation for a service-based legal education: “Seeing our clients light up at the fact that they had an opportunity to have a will written reminded me of why I enrolled in law school and the importance of pro bono work.”
Students and faculty also participated in outreach projects at the Ronald McDonald House, as well as a week-long poverty law practicum course around the city of Richmond.
Thank you to both the University of Arkansas School of Law and the University of Richmond School of Law for sharing your experiences with us, and thank you students for all of your hard work over Spring Break 2019!