Denise Wager | December 23, 2019
Steeped in the last of the vibrant fall colors, the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains surround both sides of the road. Billboards scattered across the mountainside advertise attorneys for black lung victims and Social Security benefits and worker compensation.
It is here in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, that Notre Dame Law student Justin North stands in front of a running car on the side of the road outside the Floyd County Courthouse. He is urgently talking to Joe, a victim of a massive Social Security fraud case, whose attorney had been trying to reach him. But with no home, no car, and no phone, that has been difficult. Joe finally found a ride with a neighbor, but the driver is anxious to leave. So, Justin uses every second that he has with Joe to relay all of the important information he needs.
This is just one of the encounters six Law School students experienced on a trip to eastern Kentucky during fall break.
For the past 10 years, groups of students from Notre Dame Law School have spent their fall and spring breaks learning about the rich culture and extreme poverty of the Appalachian region while assisting residents with their legal needs. As part of the Law School’s Appalachia Externship, students work alongside staff attorneys at AppalReD Legal Aid, the umbrella legal services organization serving eastern Kentucky, whose executive director is Notre Dame alumnus Robert Johns ‘91. Students also work with local attorney Ned Pillersdorf, managing partner at Pillersdorf, DeRossett & Lane, who represents clients in a variety of civil rights and environmental issues related to rural poverty and coal mining operations.
Read more here.