Aug. 25, 2016 - Before attending their first law school class, University of Houston Law Center students started their semester by giving back.
First-year students, administrators and professors spent time at a number of community service events last week to kick off the school year.
"Lawyers are very blessed and have so many opportunities, and they often are leaders in our communities," said Dean Leonard M. Baynes, who worked alongside the others on the various service projects. "It is so important for us who are lawyers to give back to our communities.
"Our Community Service project for first-year students sets a good example for our students in terms of providing support to the community as they enter the legal profession."
Students participated in a variety of events, starting with Mayor Sylvester Turner's "Back 2 School Fest" at Hofheinz Pavilion on Aug. 13. The event was hosted by the University of Houston and offered school supplies, immunizations, uniforms and health screenings to students in the community.
Law Center students received valuable hands-on legal experience at several events, working with a variety of clients. About 20 students assisted at immigration clinics sponsored by Neighborhood Centers Inc. and United WE Dream. The clinics, which were held on Aug. 13 and Aug. 20, were intended to help with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications.
About 15 students partnered with the Houston Bar Association for a Veteran's Clinic on Aug. 19 and a General Legal Clinic on Aug. 20. The veteran's clinic was held at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and gave students an opportunity to sit on meetings between Houston Volunteer Attorneys and veterans seeking legal advice. The General Legal Clinic, held at Bammel Church, helped citizens with cases involving family law, guardianship, estate planning, tax disputes, landlord/tenant disputes and homeownership.
The final event at the Houston Food Bank on Aug. 20, drew nearly 200 Law Center students who spent the afternoon preparing meals for those in need.
"These community projects offer a great opportunity for new UHLC students to connect with the Houston community at large, as well as each other," Associate Dean for Student Affairs Sondra Tennessee said. "Year after year, students have commented about how much they have enjoyed serving participating in these events whether it's at the HBA Veterans Clinic or the Houston Food Bank. Each project is rewarding in its own way."