Winter Break 2014 Cherokee Pro Bono: Day One Training

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Welcome to our blog of the second annual Cherokee Pro Bono Project!Our first day in Cherokee, North Carolina was exciting. A lot of work went into planning and preparing for our arrival, led by trip coordinators Sam Williams and Kathleen Lockwood. Additionally, each student participating in this pro bono opportunity was assigned a committee and joined in the preparation efforts through letter writing, gathering supplies, and making travel arrangements. Students also completed approximately 20 hours of training to become certified Healthcare Navigators. We’ve learned the ins and outs of the new healthcare law and will be helping the Asheville community enroll on Saturday. Finally, we’ve been reading up on the culture and heritage of the Cherokee tribe to know more about the people we’re assisting and their laws. For example, we learned that the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation is quite similar to that of the United States Constitution and enumerates powers for executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Despite the fact that Cherokee law is statutory and similar to state law, there are still cultural references to traditional law.

We set out for Cherokee, NC at 5:30 a.m. On the road, we stopped for breakfast at Bojangles and many of us enjoyed the famous Cajun Filet biscuits. After our four-hour car ride, we finally arrived in Cherokee and were given a tour of the Cherokee Tribal Court by Judge Saunooke. After a pizza lunch in the courtroom, we began our training with the attorneys of the Legal Aid of North Carolina Sylva Office. The most interesting aspect of the discussion was learning about Cherokee culture and how it plays into their system of law. Enrolled members of the Cherokee tribe, for instance, receive per capita payments, which have increased in recent years due to Harrah's Cherokee Casino. After gaining a broader understanding of Cherokee civil law and learning how to interact with clients, we broke into groups to role-play and practice for tomorrow’s clinic. We spent time discussing our concerns and how we can be most effective at serving clients with Legal Aid.

After our training, we checked into the hotel and enjoyed dinner at Bogart’s in Sylva, NC with Judge Saunooke, where we continued to learn more about the Cherokee Tribe. We returned to Cherokee and many of us walked across the street to the casino.

The group is anxious and excited, as most 1Ls have never participated in a pro bono project or interacted with real life clients before. We’re also hoping for favorable weather tomorrow morning, as snow has already been falling this evening. Our concern is that inclement weather might dampen turnout at the clinic. However, we are thrilled at the opportunity to bring a high level of service to the people of the Cherokee tribe and look forward to the rest of the trip.

Pro Bono Group


Posted by Andrew D. Johnstone on Thu. January 2, 2014 10:50 PM
Categories: Winter Break Trip 2014

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