By: Prof. Phil Broadhead
On October 10, 2015 the Pro Bono Initiative held a Lee County Pro Se Family Law Legal Clinic, which was co-sponsored by the Lee County Bar Association, the Young Lawyers Division of the MS Bar Association, and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project (MVLP). The Pro Se Day was held at the Lee County Chancery Court, with Judge Jacqueline Mask presiding. Four UM law students participated in the event, Colin Rosser, Will Pomeroy, Briley Elliott, Laci Moore, and former student (and now lawyer), Catherine Servati and 11 attorneys supervised the students in assisting local low-income clients. Common family law issues of the clients, such as irreconcilable differences divorces, simple name changes, and resolution of child custody/support disputes, were resolved by the student-led event, providing the law students with a valuable learning experience, a networking opportunity with practicing lawyers and judges, and, importantly, helping under-or un-represented individuals finalize family law matters in their lives. Student participation in the UM Clinical Program’s Pro Bono Initiative delivers a public service to the bench and bar, who then in turn manage the client interviews conducted by the students and direct the resolution of these family law matters by negotiating settlements between the parties, drafting pleadings to put the parties before the court, then presenting the cases in hearings before the Chancellor to complete the process of resolving the client’s difficulties.