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UK Law Student Engages in Pro Bono Work at Legal Aid of the Bluegrass

The educational experiences available for UK Law students far exceeds the classroom, and often provides a positive impact not only on the law student, but also on the community.  Third-year UK Law student Julie Greenlee continued to work pro bono at Legal Aid of the Bluegrass after serving as a paid law clerk last summer.  

“I believe volunteering has tremendous benefits for both the volunteer and the recipient,” said Greenlee.  “I had spent the summer applying my legal knowledge from law school to actual legal practice.  I cannot overemphasize how good it feels to use that knowledge to help others.”

The work at Legal Aid varied from clerical tasks and client intake to in-depth research and writing projects.  “Frequently, I was assigned to research issues of law for the more complex cases some of the attorneys were handling.  I drafted several memos after performing research.  I also drafted petitions to the court, wrote a pre-trial memorandum with a fellow clerk, drafted wills and POAs and much more,” said Greenlee.  “This was a wonderful, hands-on experience for learning how to actually practice law as well as how to adapt to new practice areas.”

Greenlee’s favorite aspect of being involved with Legal Aid of the Bluegrass was working with the clients. Greenlee was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, and never realized how much need there is for assistance in the area.  “Last year, the clients in Lexington included 9,832 adults and 5,427 children,” said Greenlee. “Forty three percent of all people served in 2017 were the working poor. Furthermore, 13 percent were disabled, 27 percent were elderly, and 27 percent were victims of domestic violence.”  Greenlee states the clients were typically on the low end of poor, in the middle of a crisis, and had zero ability to help themselves with what were sometimes life-determining legal issues.  “There are many clients whose stories really changed my outlook on a number of things, including the legal system and my recognition of the power that comes from the knowledge to navigate that system.  I became a very strong advocate for our clients and it felt amazing to impact so many lives.”

When asked if she would encourage others to participate pro bono work, her response was, “Absolutely.  It is so easy to get caught up in the academic aspect of law school and forget to take opportunities to gain practical experience.  These opportunities sharpen legal skills and build connections in the legal community.  I cannot undervalue the wide variety of skills I received in different practice areas and the wonderful connections I made while working pro bono.”

Greenlee is a member of the Kentucky Law Journal, an officer for Women’s Law Caucus and volunteers her time to work with immigrants and Spanish-speaking community members.  She is a J.D. candidate for the Class of 2019 and plans to practice at a smaller firm in Kentucky after graduation.

Please visit the University of Kentucky College of Law website for information on how to volunteer pro bono with Legal Aid of the Bluegrass or any other agencies providing pro bono assistance at http://law.uky.edu/academics/pro-bono-and-community-engagement

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