The Legal Aid Society, in collaboration with Howard University School of Law (HUSL), in Washington D.C., launched its first annual Spring Break Student Pro Bono Project on March 12, 2018.
The Project was joint collaboration between management and attorneys who are members of a Howard Law School group - this group consists of attorneys D. Antoinette Kirwan (JRP), Natasha Ingram (CIV), Germaine Auguste (CDP), Marquita Johnson (CDP), Robert Desir (CIV), Shomari Ward (JRP) and Japel Filiaci (CDP). The alumni had a vision to create a pipeline between their alma mater, one of the nation's preeminent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and The Legal Aid Society.
The Legal Aid Society welcomed the students, along with HUSL Associate Dean of Admissions Reginald McGahee, and Assistant Dean of Career Services Neil Dennis, at a Kick-off Breakfast event held at Water Street on March 12th. Attorney-in-Chief Seymour James and staff attorneys Antoinette Kirwan, Robert Desir and Marquita Johnson addressed attendees, connecting Howard and LAS' shared commitment to social engineering and social justice work. Assistant Dean Neil Dennis gave closing remarks and expressed his enthusiasm about the new Spring Break Alternative Project, and HUSL's partnership with The Legal Aid Society.
Students spent a week earning pro bono credit and worked directly with several of The Legal Aid Society's specialized units, including: the Community Justice Unit (CJU), the Exploitation Intervention Project, the Prisoners’ Rights Project (PRP) and the LGBTQ+ Law and Policy Initiative Unit. The students participated in direct client services in various communities, attended lobbying activities in Albany, honed their research and writing skills, and observed court proceedings and Cure Violence events throughout the five boroughs.