Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Law Students Address Disaster Issues

Residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast face a plethora of legal issues. (I was going to say "deluge" but that seemed in bad taste.) There have been a number of efforts to mobilize law students to assist with these issues, including the "Boalt in New Orleans" program here. One of the most intriguing efforts, however, is the Student Hurricane Network.:

The legal questions and problems facing the individuals and communities throughout the Gulf Coast region are monumental in scale, and will remain for months and years to come. In order to address this need, law students from across the country have formed the Student Hurricane Network (SHN), a national association dedicated to providing assistance to communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

SHN's first major project occurred in December 2005 and January 2006, when over 240 law students from over fifty-seven law schools across the country converged on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and five cities across Louisiana, working with over eighteen public interest organizations to conduct massive intake, interviews, research, and physical cleanup. Students assisted with projects involving criminal justice, housing, immigrant labor, FEMA claims, and more.

From February through April, SHN organized spring break trips for nearly 700 students from over 60 law schools! These students continued the work of the winter break trips, and also helped establish projects focusing on voters' rights, access to counsel, and the rebuilding of a safe, strong New Orleans. Students worked in Louisiana and Mississippi, but also with evacuees in Florida, Texas, and Georgia.

It's great to see students taking this kind of initiative on a national scale.


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