Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Alternative Spring Break
asb flyer 2014
March 10-14, 2014
The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
This year's ASB is centered on the civil right to counsel and the influence of Gideon v. Wainwright 50 years after the historic case. While Gideon v. Wainwright established the right to counsel in criminal cases, no similar right exists in civil lawsuits. Many poor people are caught without adequate counsel in the civil justice system around issues involving basic needs, such as housing, child support, and child custody, creating a "civil justice" gap. We will take an in-depth look at this issue through several different specialized legal tracks throughout the course of the program, including presentations from our keynote speakers, John Pollock from the Public Justice Center and Coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel; and Jonathan Steen, president-elect of the Tennessee Bar Association.
Seven Specialized Pro Bono Tracks (see below for detailed track information):
  • Family Law - Pro Se Divorce
  • Immigration
  • Veteran's Affairs
  • Criminal Defense - Street Court
  • Research and Writing - Juvenile Justice
  • Advanced Directives
  • Juvenile Court


Detailed track information:

1. Family Law:  Pro Se Divorce

This track provides students with the opportunity to guide clients from the Community Legal Center (CLC) and Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. (MALS) through the pro se divorce process.  Clients who meet certain income requirements and have no children or assets can apply for an uncontested divorce using forms promulgated by the Tennessee Supreme Court.  Under the supervision of licensed attorneys, students will help clients fill out the forms, meet with the Shelby County divorce referee and file for their divorce.  Participants in this track will receive training on Tennessee divorce practice and procedure, along with receiving general training on legal ethics and appropriate client interaction.  Memphis students will have the additional, and optional, opportunity to prepare clients at their hearing on the final divorce decree.

2. Advanced Directives

In the Advanced Directives track, students travel to various locations such as senior centers, nursing homes, community centers, and churches to assist seniors in drafting written instructions on medical care decisions.  Students will work in groups, under the supervision of a local attorney, to draft living wills, appointments of healthcare agents, appointments of financial agents, and durable powers of attorney.  The majority of clients served are low-income seniors; however, anyone in need of these services will be assisted.  All participants in the Advanced Directives track will receive sufficient training on the various types of legal documents used in addition to receiving general training on legal ethics and appropriate client interaction.

3. Criminal Defense:  Street Court Cost Waivers and Expungements

Students will have the opportunity to interview clients and file petitions for criminal court cost waivers before a General Sessions judge, under the supervision of attorneys from the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office.  The "Street Court" program hosted by the PD offers cost and fine waivers for indigent clients currently experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.  Volunteers will also screen eligible clients for expungement of past offenses.  Cost waiver petitions consist of an affidavit of indigency stating the client's financial situation and a motion and order for each of the client's outstanding costs and fines.  Expungement is available for misdemeanors more than three years old and qualifying non-violent felonies more than five years old.  Criminal records and outstanding court debt from long-past offenses where the client has already served time can disqualify them from renewing a driver's license, opening a bank account, or finding a job.  Petitions for cost waivers can relieve this debt burden for clients within 4 to 6 weeks of filing, and expungements can offer clients a clean slate.  Last year's 2013 ASB Criminal Defense "Street Court" track helped 65 clients overcome homelessness and take steps toward re-entering the workforce.  All Memphis students chosen to participate should be prepared for preliminary work in preparation for this track.  This track may also offer voting rights restoration. All legal services offered in the criminal defense track are made possible with the support of Shelby County Courts and are subject to change with judges’ discretion. 

4. Immigration

The Immigration Track will bring clients referred by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) into the Law School Clinic to obtain a form of relief called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  DACA allows young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to submit applications that, if granted, will allow them to obtain a driver’s license, a social security number, and a two-year “immunity” from being placed into removal proceedings.  This allows the young people to participate more fully in the country they have come to know as home.  Students will have the opportunity to directly interact with and interview clients and complete their legal paperwork.  Attorneys from the Community Legal Center’s Immigrant Justice Program and Memphis Immigration Advocates will pre-screen all clients and will be present during the week to provide training on the two application processes and to answer any questions that students might have.  In addition, all Immigration Track participants will receive training on legal ethics and appropriate client interaction.

5. Juvenile Justice:  Probation Conferences 

The Shelby County Juvenile Court probation offices conduct probation conferences on a daily basis with children who have received a juvenile summons (the equivalent of an arrest ticket) in lieu of being taken into custody and placed in the juvenile detention center.  Children who are not detained have less serious delinquency charges.  These children have the right to be represented by counsel, the right to receive Miranda warnings, and the right to remain silent.  Students in this track, under the supervision of the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office and appointed counsel, will counsel and advise these children and will represent them at these probation conferences.  Memphis students should expect to conduct preliminary prospective client interviews up to two weeks before the start of the track.

6. Veterans’ Clinic

This track will focus on assisting veterans with disability claims.  Veterans’ assistance has been marked as a high priority by the American Bar Association.  Further information about this track will be forthcoming. 

7. Research and Writing: Juvenile Justice

This track allows students who are interested in research and writing to assist a client with a specific project.  This year, students will have the opportunity to complete a project on behalf of the Shelby County Juvenile Court, which recently entered into a Settlement Agreement with the U. S. Department of Justice to create a reformed juvenile justice system that will be a national model.  Writing assignments will advance this goal.  These assignments may include the preparation of materials explaining the reforms to the public in non-legalese, drafting scripts for advising a child about his Miranda rights or other rights in the juvenile justice process, or drafting legal forms in language a child can understand. 


For more information about the 2014 Alternative Spring Break, please contact ASB coordinator Kyle Turner, at tktrner1@memphis.edu

2014 Alternative Spring Break sponsored by:

Mary Beth Sclater

mbf logo   wharton firm  bardog logo

chick fil a      prescay   hueys

tigers    Mirimichi  beuticontrolredbirds


2013 Alternative Spring Break 

2012 Alternative Spring Break

 2011 Alternative Spring Break

 2010 Alternative Spring Break

Quotes from ASB participants:

"Being able to work with actual clients lets you see the impact you can have as a lawyer.  The in-person interaction provides an experience that can't be matched from classroom learning alone.  As a 1L, participating in ASB showed me the importance of what I learned during school and how it plays into real work as an attorney. 

ASB was only a week, but the experiential learning will serve me into future internships and my career as a lawyer."

- Kyle Turner, Immigration Track


"Last summer I interned with the Office of Legal Counsel for the Memphis Police Department.  There I realized the importance to inspire people to step forward.  I'm happy to be a part of a program to empower women who are victims of abuse."
 -  Tom Williams, Former PALS Vice President


"It's easy to lose my sense of purpose when I'm buried under a casebook or working late at school on a research project.  When I get the chance to work with a group of highly-motivated students who are committed to addressing the problems of equal access to the court system and really dealing with the issue of poverty and helping at-risk groups, I feel reinvigorated and inspired to keep moving forward."
 - Grace Whiting, 2010 & 2011 ASB   Coordinator




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