Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Alternative Spring Break
2013 Participants
"Lawyers have an ethical responsibility to serve the poor and unrepresented individuals. These law students have demonstrated early in their careers that they understand and share that professional value."

Professor Christina A. Zawisza, PALS Faculty Advisor and Director of the Child and Family Legal Clinic



Alternative Spring Break (ASB) began in the spring of 2010 when fifteen UofM law students traveled to Miami after the Haiti earthquake to help Haitians stranded in the U.S. apply for temporary protected status.  These students returned to Memphis motivated to help local Memphians in need of quality legal services. 

In the spring of 2011, PALS hosted ASB at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of law.  Under the supervision of attorneys, thirty-seven law students from eight law schools served in three areas or tracks:  (1) Pro Se Divorce, (2) Advance Directives, and (3) Non-Profit Organizations.  Of the thirty-seven students who participated, twenty were from the UofM.  In the pro se divorce track, students assisted couples with no joint property or kids to file pro se divorces.  In the advance directives track, students traveled to nursing homes and senior centers to prepare legal documents such as powers of attorney, health care surrogacies, and wills.  Students participating in the nonprofit advocacy track worked on different law-related projects with Court-Appointed Special Advocates, Literacy Mid-South, and the RISE Foundation. 

The Third Annual Alternative Spring Break took place from March 5-23, 2012. PALS hosted sixty-two students, twenty-nine from the UofM, who participated in four tracks:  (1) Pro Se Divorce, (2) Advance Directives, (3) Legislative Drafting, and (4) Immigration.  The two new tracks, Legislative Drafting and Immigration, were added to directly respond to the need in Memphis and allow more student participation.  Students working in the Legislative Drafting Track partnered with three organizations to draft legislation regarding human trafficking, post-civil commitment proceedings, and predatory lending.  The Immigration Track took place over three weeks with the University of Tennessee College of Law and the University of Mississippi College of Law partnering to finish the second and third weeks.  Students in the Immigration Track processed U-Visa applications for five victims of serious domestic violence who cooperated with law enforcement. 

Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, was the keynote speaker at the 2012 ASB Luncheon.  Mr. Dees spoke to the students about his humble roots in rural Alabama, his formative years as a civil rights lawyer, and his current effots to curtail discrimination against immigrants. 

The Fourth Annual ASB took place from March 11-15, 2013.  This year, ASB added even more tracks, including "Street Court" where students partnered with the Shelby County Public Defender's office to expunge outstanding court fees for homeless individuals.  Street Court helped over 70 individuals receive legal counseling so that their issues would not longer be barriers to finding housing and jobs.  Over forty-eight law students from seven schools served over 145 clients in ASB.  ASB chose a Civil Rights theme, featured an educational series of "hot topics" throughout the week, and hosted keynote speaker Mike Cody, who represented Dr. Martin Luther King when the City of Memphis attempted to stop the sanitation workers' march in Memphis.  



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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Last Updated: 11/14/14