by Chen Ji LL.M. ’18
The one-week trip to Austin, Texas for the Hurricane Harvey Caravan is among the most amazing and rewarding experience for my L.L.M year.
I wanted to participate in the caravan and work on projects relating to Hurricane Harvey because my aunt lives in Houston and her family was greatly affected by Harvey. (I visited my aunt and stayed with her family in Houston the weekend after the caravan.) Also, I am taking the New York bar after graduation and the pro bono hours from the caravan can satisfy the New York Bar’s pro bono requirement. (The bar requires 50 pro bono hours in total and the caravans normally take up 40-50 hours. If your caravan counts for less than 50 hours, you would need other pro bono experience to make up the balance.) Last but not least, I thought it would be a great time to take a break and travel to other parts of the U.S. to experience life (especially food!) in some different locales.
The experience was amazing.
During the day, we worked on projects undertaken by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) relating to the hurricane. We were each assigned a different project. The projects were to analyze the environmental impact of the hurricane and the related legal claims from local residents as well as the legal measures that could potentially be put in place to better safeguard the well-being of the local residents. We reported to different attorneys within the EDF on our findings. In addition to working on the projects, the EDF also organized presentations to introduce us to general environmental knowledge and communication skills. The communication skills were helpful for my future career as we learned how to set the right tone based on the audience of the conversation and how to effectively convey a legal issue to people outside of the legal world.
After normal business hours, I traveled with my team to experience different types of local food (tacos, barbecues, …). We also went to play mini-golf, table-tennis, etc. Our caravan was during the music festival season in Austin, so thousands of bands were in town and we were able to dance and listen to wonderful music in open bars.
I am glad that I traveled with the people in my caravan. We had five members. Other than me, the other four members were a 1L, two 2Ls and a 3L. Each member brought with them different perspectives to the team and made the whole experience more interesting. (Special thanks to my team leader who did such a great job in organizing the caravan and booked a cozy place for our stay with Airbnb!) I made new friends that I can now give warm greetings to when I run into them in JG, and hope these friendships will last long after law school!
Chen is an L.L.M student graduating in May 2018. After graduation, she will join an international law firm based in Shanghai, China.