Students Chloe Altieri '21, Josh Smith '20, Olivia Perry '20, and Cayla Rodney '21 research disaster relief cases at Legal Aid of North Carolina- Greenville.
During our pre-trip training in Chapel Hill, none of us could have imagined the unforgettable experience we would have in just a few short days. Our training consisted of a quick crash course on hurricane relief efforts, landlord-tenant rights during natural disasters, and some of the challenges facing eastern North Carolina.
We arrived in Greenville, NC the morning of March 11 to begin our first day at Legal Aid of North Carolina. After
meeting the Legal Aid staff, we enthusiastically began our research on how we could best assist these communities hardest hit by Hurricane Florence last September. To begin our research, we broke up into teams of two to focus on the various pieces such as the communities affected and the people involved. Our whole day flew by as we dove deeper into the situation and excitedly reported back to supervising attorneys when we found some new, important evidence. At the end of our first day, we left the office buzzing about the incredible progress we made. Then, to celebrate, we had a true southern dinner at Parkers Barbeque.
On our second day, we continued our research. This experience allowed us all to hone our skills in combing through public records, compiling data, and putting it in a readable form for our supervising attorneys. After we sent in our research, we were able to see the networking capabilities of Legal Aid of North Carolina when they are faced with a huge project such as this one. Over twenty legal aid attorneys across the state discussed our research over conference calls to figure out the best next steps for their clients and to give us new topics to look into.
Following our second day at Legal Aid, we went and visited Judge Callaway at the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of North Carolina. As an alumnus, Judge Callaway generously welcomed us on a tour of the courthouse and gave us invaluable insight on his career. Finally, we finished up day two with an UNC Law School alumni dinner where we had five former graduates join us. While at dinner, the attorneys shared advice on how to navigate law school, the bar exam, and a successful legal career. All of us were extremely grateful for the opportunity to hear about their experiences.
On our last day at Legal Aid, we finished up our research and began to reach out to clients. After compiling all of the information surrounding this situation, all of us found it incredibly impactful to hear what was going on from the people actually affected. During these phone calls, we collected facts from each client and heard about their circumstances and how their lives were impacted by the hurricane.
As we finished up our final calls and said our goodbyes to the attorneys at Legal Aid, we left Greenville with an immense amount of gratitude for the experience and a better understand of the unique challenges that Eastern North Carolina faces.