More than 20 students from the Elon law school spent Friday, April 4 donating their time and talents to the North Carolina Bar Association's 4ALL campaign, which offers free legal advice to citizens statewide. Details...
Students fanned out to several locations across the Triad to assist their future colleagues in the legal profession as well as citizens. The NCBA operated eight call centers across the state, staffed by attorneys, allowing the public to call in and speak with a lawyer at no charge. Law students were on hand to research questions of law and help discover solutions to complex legal problems.
Elon students Mike Kelly, Annie Nastasi and Nicole Patterson assisted at the Greensboro call center, located at the United Way Volunteer Center on Yanceyville Street. Armed with laptops, they visited WestLaw and other legal research Web sites to assist the 20 attorneys working a three-hour shift.
“It’s a great chance to apply what we’ve learned in legal research,” said Nastasi, a first-year student. “It helps us test our skills, and it’s also a great chance to meet others in the legal profession.”
Although only licensed attorneys can field the phone calls and offer legal advice to the person on the other end of the line, Patterson said the experience was valuable to her from several perspectives. “It’s great practice for our advocacy class,” Patterson said. “You have to research a problem and write about it for that class, and so much of your success is based on your research. We’re also gaining experience that will be valuable for summer jobs. If you’re not a good researcher, you’re going to have trouble landing a good summer job.”
Ray Ruppert, director of continuing legal education with the NCBA, said call centers statewide were averaging more than 500 calls per hour as of midday Friday. “We’re grateful for the support and assistance from students at Elon and other law schools,” Ruppert said.
Other Elon students spent part of Friday volunteering at the Ask-A-Lawyer program at the Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro, hosted by the Young Lawyers Division of the Greensboro Bar Association. Several other students planned to donate their time Saturday in Chapel Hill at a prisoners services clinic, hosted by the School of Law at the University of North Carolina.
Nastasi said participating in the 4ALL public service day reaffirms Elon law’s commitment to civic engagement and its belief that lawyers have a duty to give back to their communities.
“It’s giving us an opportunity to become involved with the community as law students,” Nastasi said. “I think not only are we giving back to the legal community, but the community of Greensboro, too.”