Blog Posts: Spring Break 2013 (Eastern, Wills)

Beast of the East

This trip was eye opening and an all-around incredible experience. Every person who played a part in this trip genuinely wanted to help others, which made it not only rewarding but a lot of fun as well. We were given the opportunity to help some amazing people from across eastern North Carolina. Every client we helped touched us in a special way and I feel like we learned as much from them and benefited as much from our interactions with them as they did from us.

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No Comments | Posted by William T. Ellis on Sat. March 16, 2013 11:50 AM
Categories: Spring Break 2013 (Eastern, Wills)

Rachel Braden's Reflection

The setting: Room 401 of Halifax Community College, a large all-purpose room. The walls are made of cinderblocks and painted beige. On one wall, the phrase “Excellence through pursuit of knowledge” is written in blue block letters. Collapsible tables lined with blue plastic chairs are scattered throughout the room.

The scene: Against one wall, three women – two in their late 70s to mid-80s, the other in her mid-50s – are seated on matching blue plastic chairs. A paralegal with Legal Aid NC goes up to two of the women, speaks to them in a soft voice, and ushers them to a table where two law students are eagerly awaiting their first client. The students rise as their client arrives, introduce themselves, and shake her hand. The client, an 80 year-old woman with white permed hair, and her 55 year-old daughter, take their...

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No Comments | Posted by Rachel F. Braden on Fri. March 15, 2013 9:45 AM
Categories: Spring Break 2013 (Eastern, Wills)

"Questions, Answers, and Wills"

It was obvious that Mrs. Bell was a pastor—her endless energy was only matched by her rhetorical cadence. “That’s right. Yep, you heard it. Come on, now. All right, where were we?”

Where we were was Lincoln Heights, a community of about four hundred people in rural Halifax County. The community is among the poorest in the state. As Mrs. Bell—a local pastor and unofficial mayor—toured us through the neighborhood, we encountered this poverty on nearly every street. Dilapidated homes, barely standing, remained on lots long ago abandoned. Trash lingered on the sides of the streets, the remnants of an old landfill, where a variety of waste had been dumped for years...

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No Comments | Posted by John E. Harris on Tue. March 12, 2013 4:37 PM
Categories: Spring Break 2013 (Eastern, Wills)

Why This Work is So Important

This is incredibly important work. While there are many drivers of structural poverty, one of the simplest ways to preserve existing wealth is to provide for orderly property transfer from one generation to the next...

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No Comments | Posted by Christopher S. Dwight on Tue. March 12, 2013 4:11 PM
Categories: Spring Break 2013 (Eastern, Wills)

Wills Trip Raison D'Etre

Wills Trip Raison D'Etre

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No Comments | Posted by Christopher S. Dwight on Tue. March 12, 2013 3:29 PM
Categories: Spring Break 2013 (Eastern, Wills)

Wills Trip Haikus! Feel Free to Add Your Own!

Courtesy of Christopher Dwight, Rachel Braden, James Jolley, and Munashe Magaria:

In wills we preserve
Land and private property.
Title transfer bliss.

Towns where we write wills:
Weldon, Pembroke, and Greenville
Will-less death be damned!

Meeting new people
Legal jargon and knowledge
Spring break memories

Advance directive
And power of attorney
Vital documents

Spring break means drinking,
and getting rid of tan lines.
Or you could write wills.

All we do is wills
wills wills no matter what;
and other things, I guess.

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No Comments | Posted by Christopher S. Dwight on Tue. March 12, 2013 2:44 PM
Categories: Spring Break 2013 (Eastern, Wills)

The Basics of the East

The UNC Pro Bono trip to Eastern North Carolina is spending three days in the Eastern North Carolina towns of Weldon, Pembroke, and Greenville drafting wills and preparing powers of attorney under the supervision of Legal Aid of North Carolina and the UNC Center for Civil Rights. At each location, we will prepare wills, powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney for those who attend the clinic, for free. Each day will be structured similarly. We will arrive on site in the morning and the clinics will run through the late afternoon. Student pairs will interview the clients and prepare the first draft of the documents. Those documents will then be reviewed and approved by a supervising attorney. The students will then review the drafts with each client, ensuring that each client’s wishes are accurately reflected in each document. If the client is satisfied, the documents are signed by the client in the presence of two witnesses and notarized on the spot.

In the face of these lofty ambitions, when it comes down to it, this trip started with a van, a fifteen-passenger van to be exact. The trouble with vans, in general, is that you always think you have more room than you really do. Were going on a road trip with 15 people, I’m getting a van! We’ll have more room than we know what to do with. Not so fast.

The van embodies everything that is so wrong and so right about close-quarters travel. On the one hand, we will have a lot of room. Wait, add the 15 people, oh and their bags, did he really just take off his shoes? Yep and the girl next to me (what's her name again?) just fell asleep in my shoulder. At the same time, there maybe no better way to accelerate familiarity. For instance, John Harris’ family tree is made up entirely of teachers. Courtney made us all a bit smarter by laying out the details of Operation Mongoose, one of the CIA’s attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro back in the 1960s (spoiler alert: the CIA didn't succeed). At the same time, our entire group doesn't fit into this van. We are closely followed by a mini-van driven by one of our fearless leaders, James Jolly.

At once, this mix of lofty ambitions and constraints defines our work. Just as we can't fit our entire group into one van, we won't be able to serve everyone who interested in our service. This is a call for more vans and more lawyers in underserved communities.

This trip would not have happened without the incredibly generous support of our friends, family, and the UNC School of Law. Furthermore, we wouldn't have the opportunity to serve a single client were it not for the amazing work done by Legal Aid clinics around the state. Please check back for updates in the near future.

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No Comments | Posted by Christopher S. Dwight on Tue. March 12, 2013 1:13 PM
Categories: Spring Break 2013 (Eastern, Wills)

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