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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 22, 2006

UI Law Students To Provide Legal Services In New Orleans

Most volunteers go to the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast region to provide traditional relief services, things like clearing away storm damage, building homes, delivering food or medical supplies, or even helping lost pets.

But a group of 44 University of Iowa law students will spend their spring break in Louisiana doing something different: providing pro bono legal services to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. The students will work in New Orleans March 13 through 18, leaving Iowa City March 10 and returning March 19.

"We thought this was a great way to use our training to provide services that people might need," said Dan Feltes, a third-year law student organizing the trip. He said the students will work with New Orleans-area legal services organizations to provide mostly support services. "As law students, we are equipped with the knowledge that could help many of the evacuees, and we wanted to extend the good will of the University of Iowa student body as well as the people of the State of Iowa."

He said about half the students will provide the pro bono legal services, with most of the work likely including such tasks as gathering and processing documents, writing legal memos and letters, interviewing people involved in legal disputes, or helping to complete relief aid paperwork.

"The services won't be real intense, but as you can imagine they've been inundated with legal problems there and they need the kind of assistance we can provide," Feltes said. Clients could include people involved in criminal defense cases, landlord/tenant disputes, or hurricane victims applying for federal assistance.

Feltes is organizing the trip with the help of the Student Hurricane Network, a national group that works with law students across the country who want to help in the Katrina relief efforts on the Gulf Coast. He said law students from such schools as Yale, Harvard and Columbia Universities have already completed similar trips. Anne Weakly and Jeff Scudder, third year law students, and Sehee Foss and Saray Bermeo, second year law students, have also helped organize the trip.

The rest of the students on the trip will help rebuild homes and other traditional "heavy lifting" relief projects. The students will stay in homes near the French Quarter.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.