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A Spring Break Recap: UK Law Students Make a Difference

April 11, 2016

Eager to make a difference, three UK Law students packed their bags and started to drive toward their spring break destination: the small city of Prestonsburg, Kentucky. A break from the classroom but not from developing lawyering skills, Nick Modarressi, Ryan Mosley and Mark Roth set out on a week-long adventure to help the Eastern Kentucky community.

Under the supervision of Eastern Kentucky lawyer Ned Pillersdorf, a partner of the law firm Pillersdorf, DeRossett & Lane, students offered pro bono legal services to low-income residents who cannot afford attorneys. They helped with the intake and preparation for hearings, sat in on some of the firm’s initial consultations with prospective clients, attended court hearings, visited a client in jail, and conducted confidential due diligence. They were able to apply the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to assist with various water contamination cases as well as help some of the thousands of individuals who lost social security benefits due to allegations of fraud against their former attorney.

“They met each of the challenges with a willingness to learn, enthusiasm and a commitment to help those in need,” said Ned Pillersdorf.

Ryan Mosley, a first-year law student and Knott County native, chose to attend law school with the hope to one day help the residents of Eastern Kentucky. Much to his surprise, that day came sooner than expected.

“This opportunity was just perfect – exactly what I came to law school wanting to do – so when I heard about it, I knew I had to be a part of the action,” exclaimed Mosley.

The trip not only benefited the residents of Eastern Kentucky, but also provided students valuable hands-on experience and the opportunity to connect with students from Columbia Law School and prominent members of the legal community in the area, including experts from AppalRED and the Appalachian Citizens Law Center. Pillersdorf's wife and current Court of Appeals Judge Janet Stumbo joined students on their visit to The David School, a non-denominational private high school with a mission to serve underprivileged and struggling students.

“I enjoyed seeing the students learning real-life skills in the classroom,” said Mosley. “These are vital skills that a lot of kids wouldn’t receive elsewhere – it’s incredible how people in this community are helping to prepare them for the future.” 

To wrap up the week, the students had a chance to volunteer at the Floyd County Animal Shelter, where Mosley had his fifteen minutes of fame as the Floyd County Animal Shelter Celebrity of the Week. The students made an impact on the community they served, leaving Mosley looking forward to leading future alternative spring break opportunities. 

“It’s great being around people that just care – people who want to take a bad situation and make it better,” said Mosley.

“Whenever I do service hoping to make a little difference for someone, it is I who end up a better person and learning more through the experience” said Mark Roth, a third-year law student.

For more information about the pro bono services and community service activities at the UK College of Law visit