Yesterday I had the opportunity to volunteer for a Peoples Lawyer session at the University of Houston Law Center. This is a free service offered by the University where anyone can attend free classes on the basics of rights under the law. Dean Alderman ran a tight ship and had an army of volunteers on hand to help all of the attendees. As such, I found myself as an "evaluator" for some of the classes. I started with Small Claims and then moved on to Renter/Tenant and finished with Wills and Probate. Each class was an hour and was taught by either a judge or a practicing attorney of the field. I give this program rave reviews and would recommend it to everyone. I only wish the classes had longer question and answer sessions as the attendees were dealing with real problem issues.
This kind of experience is invaluable to a 1st year law student. It really puts into perspective the power of knowing the law. You can really help people, and with little else than a few minutes of answering some difficult questions. As an aerospace engineer, I often could hold an audiences attention as I tell tales of outer space. But in the end, they only take home the entertainment value of knowing how astronauts go to the bathroom in space. Tell them how to get the landlord to fix their roof, or how to make sure their children are protected if they die, or how to get their money back from a dirty contractor and you've left them with information that will enrich their lives. It's very inspiring. I hope to participate again and eventually teach some of the classes.
If you would like to know more about the Peoples Lawyer Program, just visit their website.