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    03.27.17 Spring Break Pro Bono Highlights
    Students in the Dominican Republic

    Every spring break, many Brooklyn Law School students forego rest and relaxation in order to serve others by doing pro bono work. Through the Public Service Office’s alternative spring break program, 11 students traveled to one of three different sites: New Orleans, Miami, and Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic.

    In New Orleans, BLAST partnered with the Louisiana Civil Justice Center. The students volunteered at the Self-Help Desk in the civil court house, worked on family law motions and disaster response programs, and helped to organize the LCJC’s “Justice Tour,” which provides legal assistance to low-income and disaster-affected individuals in Louisiana.

    “I had a rewarding and great experience working for the Louisiana Civil Justice Center through BLAST,” said Dana Vasers ’18. “One of my favorite projects at LCJC was volunteering at the Self Help Desk in the civil court house. This is an office run by LCJC which aids pro se litigants with civil issues, such as divorce, custody and protection orders. I was able to see firsthand how valuable LCJC is to the community and speak with individuals in need of legal help who cannot afford an attorney.”

    In Miami, BLAST participants worked with the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. Students reviewed expert witness testimony provided during pre-trial depositions of DUI cases. They also had opportunities to observe a felony trial, and watch seasoned litigators question witnesses and give persuasive summations.

    “I had the opportunity to work with some of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the field and was able to learn from their extensive experiences,” said Aiman Tariq ’19.Throughout the week, I and other students, were able to observe trial and other court proceedings.”

    During their trip to Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic, students toured courthouses and firms, where judges and local attorneys discussed the Dominican legal system and answered their questions. Students also partnered with the firm Guzman Ariza to research Dominican law.

    They visited with Tribunal Superior Electoral (superior electoral court) Honorable Judge Mariano Rodriguez; Jurisdicción Inmobiliaria (Civil Court for Real Estate matters) Honorable Judge Lusnelda Solis; Camara Civil y Comercial de la Corte de Apelación del Distrito Nacional (National Court of Appeals); Honorable Judge Samuel Arias Arzeno; El Palacio de Justicia de Samana (Courthouse of Samana); CEMEX Dominicana in-house counsel Eduardo Antonio Risk; Mayor of the Municipality of Samaná, Nelson Nuñez; and Aura Celeste Fernandez, who was member of the commission that drafted the Constitution of the Dominican Republic, former Judge of the Electoral Court.

    “We learned about the civil law system and the functions and structure of the Superior Electoral Court and the Civil Court for Real Estate Matters, courts inexistent in the United States,” Valery Cury Sepulveda ’17 said. “At the other two courts, we learned more about their roles as judges, how they became judges and the challenges of their profession.  Additionally, we learned about the type of work done as an in-house counsel in a civil law country and in a multinational company as CEMEX.”

    In addition to the assistance of the Public Service Office, Karlamaria Cabral ’17 largely facilitated the Dominican Republic trip.

    Ephrata Zewde, Program Coordinator of the Public Service Law Center, described the spring break projects for the ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange blog – click here to read.

    View photos from the Dominican Republic visit.