Law school clinics provide 3 major benefits:
The Puerto Rico Recovery Assistance Legal Clinic accomplished all of the above (and more) in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Published February 12, 2018
"The night Maria hit, I was watching the pictures of what was happening, and I thought to myself, ‘right now they need the help that all the people who do first response are going to do, but a couple months from now, they're going to need lawyers.' " - Kim Diana Connolly, professor and vice dean
The primary purpose of the law school clinic’s trip was to provide legal aid and disaster relief assistance to the devastated area.
FEMA law was a major focus for the students - because a large portion of the population only speaks Spanish, many FEMA applications were filled out incorrectly and denied. FEMA appeals are even more complicated, and next to impossible to complete without English proficiency. Students worked hard on these appeals, as well as assisting with new applications.
Additional legal assistance included:
Students and faculty also delivered meals and supplies to people in need.
“It is heartening to know that a group of UB law clinic students will head to my hometown of Puerto Rico to deliver sorely needed legal services. This will not only benefit Puerto Rico, but also our students, as it affords them the opportunity to apply the legal skills that they have honed during the course of their legal studies.” - Luis Chiesa, UB criminal law professor
Students learned about legal problems that arise after a disaster, including:
Most importantly, people came together to provide things that were desperately needed, but out of reach for many: legal aid, basic needs, and solidarity.