Since Hurricane Katrina, law students have taken an active role as volunteers in disaster legal response and recovery. Legal clinics across the county have been an integral part in disaster legal response. In addition to providing legal assistance to disaster survivors, some law schools have organized spring break trips and/or research projects to support disaster legal efforts. The links below are provided as examples of these initiatives. Please note that in most cases, to volunteer, law students need to be supervised by a licensed attorney.

Out-of-state law students who want to help with the response to a disaster in a different jurisdiction should consider the implications of the Katrina Rule. The resources offered below are provided as examples of what law students and law schools have done in the past and what you can use as a springboard for your disaster response volunteer efforts. 

Become an Advocate for Disaster Justice

The need for attorneys to respond to and plan for climate-related disasters will continue to grow over the coming years. If you're a law student and you're interested in learning more about what it means to practice law in the context of disasters, consider joining our online community of advocates to receive relevant updates and invitations to trainings. Click here to learn more

Recent law school graduates and recently admitted attorneys should consider exploring these two programs as well: 

  • The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Disaster Legal Services Program is a group of volunteer attorneys that works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and organizations across the country to provide free and temporary legal help to disaster survivors. This program is part the ABA's Young Lawyers Division that seeks involvement from young lawyers who are interested in furthering their leadership skills and advancing national initiatives and causes. To learn more about the application process every bar year, click here
  • The Equal Justice Works Disaster Resilience Program mobilizes Fellows (legal aid attorneys) and Student Fellows (law students) to provide free civil legal aid in disaster-prone areas to ensure vital legal services are accessible, comprehensive, and responsive to the unique needs of individuals, families, and communities. Learn more here

Examples of Past Disaster Response Efforts Led by Law Students 

  • The Student Hurricane Network was a national network of law students dedicated to advancing the cause of social justice in communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by coordinating volunteer efforts, aiding public interest organizations, and educating members of the legal community about legal crises in the region. 
  • Columbia Law School's Hurricane María Legal Assistance: Building a Legal Corps for Puerto Rico. This was a collaboration with la Mesa de Trabajo de Acceso a la Justicia (Access to Justice Roundtable), the legal clinics at the University of Puerto Rico and Interamerican University Schools of Law and the Colectivo Accion Legal, as well as institutions in the U.S. like Columbia Law School. Efforts focused on organizing and training lawyers who expressed interest in helping with post-disaster relief legal aid assistance.

Examples of Law School Disaster Legal Help Clinics & Hotlines 

Examples of Disaster Law Courses 

Examples of Spring Break & Research Projects 

Related Resources of Interest​

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