2016 Wills Trip
Reflecting on your overall trip experience, what was the most
meaningful aspect for you?
I think the most meaningful part of my trip experience was getting the chance to provide access to a legal service that would otherwise go unprovided. So many of our clients spoke of how relatives having advance directives in place made it easier on the family during a difficult time, or how not having advance directives made the end-of-life process more emotionally and legally difficult for the family -- helping our clients make their wishes known while still able lets us provide our clients with peace of mind about the future.
One of the most meaningful parts of the trip was bonding with my fellow law students. The size of the group and the personalities of the people on the trip made it really easy to really get to know almost everyone on the trip, and create meaningful bonds that will last for years.
The most meaningful aspect was being able to interact with clients. One of the common statements over the course of the trip that many of the people in the western part of the state feel forgotten. Both of my parents come from rural and/or low-income communities where there was also a lack of access to resources. Thus, I found myself taking more time to get to know the clients and hear about their experiences. My conversations with them were the most meaningful.
Was there a part of the trip that particularly moved you in some
way? If so, how did that make you feel and how did it improve your
overall legal education?
For me, it was moving to realize that even though we are not lawyers yet, as law students we are still able to make a difference for our clients. This trip reinforced the notion that we are knowledgeable and understand the law so that we are able to assist people with legal matters who may not be able to afford it otherwise.
One of the most moving parts of the trip was when one of my clients talked to me about his mother’s passing. He talked about how his mother executed a living will before she passed away and how he was so glad she did that because he didn’t want to have to make that decision when the time came. Hearing how much of a relief it was for him and his siblings and how he didn’t want to put that burden on his children was incredibly moving. I was so happy to be a part of his effort to comfort his family in a moment he knew would be very difficult for them.
I was particularly moved by the genuine feelings of thankfulness that each and every client had for the work we did. It reminded me that the work we do, even as law students, makes a real difference in people's’ lives, many of whom would not be able to have this work done if it weren’t for us. One of our clients asked if we were required to come do this work as part of our education, and was stunned to find out that we were volunteers that had given up part of our spring break to come and help out. It made the experience even more rewarding.
We had clients ask “what should I do?” This question makes you wonder whether you are qualified to give advice or what would happen if you gave the wrong advice. But in the end, you realize how much you actually know, and that you can make a difference in these people’s lives. You realize how much these individuals rely on you and trust you, even though they just met you. In law school we often miss the big picture, as we are at the mercy of the cold-calling professor in the next class. However, with great power, comes great responsibility, and as law students and new lawyers, we have to recognize the power we have.
What surprised you most about the trip and why?
Seemingly small acts, like giving up a few hours of your spring break, can have a significant impact beyond what most would expect. For students, we worry about ensuring that every box is properly checked, but our impact during Pro Bono work goes further than correctly filled out forms. Clients are looking for genuine conversations, someone who will listen to their concerns, and a kind person who will try to help them with their problems. I’m glad we could provide that service.
What surprised me the most about the trip was how appreciative our clients were, both to have someone fill out these important forms and to just be an ear for them to talk to. Some of the most interesting conversations I had were during the time my partner was drafting the will in the other room, and my client would tell me about their lives and important lessons they learned along the way.
Posted by William P. Norrell on Mon. March 21, 2016 6:59 PM
Spring Break Trip 2016