Dedicated to Indianapolis

~ Introducing the Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic Legal Services ~

By Yen-Chia Chen*

February 21, 2011

An Extraordinary Calling in Life

            Law is about more than statutes or rules.  Law is about people, our daily life, and our society.  Law serves no one but us.  The reason why we decided to pursue a career in the legal profession and to come to law school varies from one to another.  However, the common stake we all have in one another is our calling in life: a sincere wish to dedicate ourselves to people and society.  We realize that practicing law is more than just a job, but a privilege which provides us the capacity to make a difference in another’s life, an opportunity to help people who need help, and a prospect to make someone’s life better.

 

Birth of IU-SOC Legal Services 

            Action speaks louder than words.  Located within the Neighborhood Fellowship Church on 3102 East 10th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic (IU-SOC) is a non-profit clinic run by students to provide free medical care and other services to the underserved and uninsured of Indiana.   Law students at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis have carried out an ideal, providing free legal service to the local communities of Indianapolis, by joining IU-SOC and partnering with students from Indiana University School of Medicine, Butler College of Pharmacy, and Indiana University School of Social Work.

            In the fall of 2010, IU-SOC invited law students of the Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis to join the clinic and provide free legal service to the local residents.  Since then law students Todd Hassee, Kim Opsahl, Laramie Paras, Jay Parks, Yen-Chia Chen, Eric T. Hom and Jennifer M. Rosser formed a steering committee for IU-SOC Legal Services and prepared to launch legal service at IU-SOC.  In addition, we have Professor Fran Quigley as our faculty advisor and supervising attorney.  “We have a good team,” said Rosser, “this clinic is going to be a huge resource to this area.”  After a whole semester of preparation, the steering committee was ready and excited to launch IU-SOC Legal Services in the spring of 2011.  “I’m glad to see the group taking concrete steps to begin to organize and launch the clinic into action,” said Parks.

 

Rain or Shine, We are Here to Serve  

            We launched the first service of IU-SOC Legal Services on February 5, 2011.  It was a Saturday in this early spring when a wintry mix of snow and sleet spread through Indiana.  Ice from the latest winter storm remained, roads were slippery, visibility was reduced, and travel was difficult.  However, the falling snow and sleet did not prevent all steering committee members from being present and launching the first service.  Rain or shine, we are here to serve.  Even heavy snow cannot stop us!  “We have a core group of law students who are ready to help our Indianapolis community,” said Hom.

 

Dedication, Connection, and Education  

            The Neighborhood Fellowship, grounded in the premise of “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” is a community that focuses on reaching out to people in great need, gaining their trust, building long term relationships with them, and helping them to make their lives better.  “We treat people with respect,” said Jim Strietelmeier, an elder from the Neighborhood Fellowship, “and we meet them where they are.”

            Strietelmeier’s description of the Neighborhood Fellowship shares the mission of IU-SOC Legal Services: “Dedication, Connection, and Education.”   IU-SOC Legal Services is dedicating its commitment to Indianapolis to give back to the society.  By providing free legal service to the underserved of Indiana, IU-SOC Legal Services hopes to build up and develop a strong and long lasting connection with local Hoosiers.  And through this pro bono opportunity, IU-SOC Legal Services also helps law students gain more hands-on experience about law practice in the real world.  “This is an exciting opportunity for us to develop an important community resource while developing our skills,” Opsahl said.

 

Day 1 

            Under Professor Fran Quigley’s guidance, we made some progress on day 1 of IU-SOC Legal Services.  Our first client was a woman seeking help to file a divorce petition in court.  We advised her on the preparation of her document. Another case involved a client who requested medical attention for a family member who was incarcerated.  Specifically, IU-SOC Legal Services contacted the attorney for the sheriff and ensured that the family member received medical care within 48 hours.  “I am really grateful for all the volunteers’ work,” said Hassee, “And also thanks to the medical team for extending their offer to us to join IU-SOC.”

 

Let’s Be Our Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper  

            Volunteering is a fundamental part of the legal profession.  IU-SOC Legal Services provides every law student an opportunity to give back to our society and a practical education on how to apply what is learned in the classroom to the real world.  Most important of all, the real joy of the legal profession is to share and utilize our expertise to help people in need. 

           IU-SOC Legal Services will launch our next service on March 5, 2011 from noon to 2 p.m.  We welcome everyone who has a passion for serving Indianapolis to join us.  Participating in IU-SOC Legal Service will be credited with pro bono hours.  If you would like to join or have any question about IU-SOC Legal Services, please contact us at: iulawsoc@iupui.edu.  Let us be our brother’s and sister’s keeper!

 

* Yen-Chia Chen is the President of the Asian Law Students Association

 

 

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