"Lawyers have an ethical responsibility to serve the poor and unrepresented individuals.
These law students have demonstrated early in their careers that they understand and
share that professional value."
Professor Christina A. Zawisza, PALS Faculty Advisor and Director of the Child and Family
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS YEAR'S ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PLEASE VISIT THE 2015
ASB WEBPAGE BY CLICKING HERE>>
HISTORY OF ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK
Alternative Spring Break (ASB) began in the spring of 2010 when fifteen UofM law students traveled
to Miami after the Haiti earthquake to help Haitians stranded in the U.S. apply for temporary
protected status. These students returned to Memphis motivated to help local Memphians
in need of quality legal services.
In the spring of 2011, PALS hosted ASB at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys
School of law. Under the supervision of attorneys, thirty-seven law students from
eight law schools served in three areas or tracks: (1) Pro Se Divorce, (2) Advance
Directives, and (3) Non-Profit Organizations. Of the thirty-seven students who participated,
twenty were from the UofM. In the pro se divorce track, students assisted couples with
no joint property or kids to file pro se divorces. In the advance directives track,
students traveled to nursing homes and senior centers to prepare legal documents such
as powers of attorney, health care surrogacies, and wills. Students participating
in the nonprofit advocacy track worked on different law-related projects with Court-Appointed
Special Advocates, Literacy Mid-South, and the RISE Foundation.
The Third Annual Alternative Spring Break took place from March 5-23, 2012. PALS hosted
sixty-two students, twenty-nine from the UofM, who participated in four tracks: (1)
Pro Se Divorce, (2) Advance Directives, (3) Legislative Drafting, and (4) Immigration.
The two new tracks, Legislative Drafting and Immigration, were added to directly respond to
the need in Memphis and allow more student participation. Students working in the
Legislative Drafting Track partnered with three organizations to draft legislation
regarding human trafficking, post-civil commitment proceedings, and predatory lending.
The Immigration Track took place over three weeks with the University of Tennessee
College of Law and the University of Mississippi College of Law partnering to finish
the second and third weeks. Students in the Immigration Track processed U-Visa applications
for five victims of serious domestic violence who cooperated with law enforcement.
Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, was the keynote speaker
at the 2012 ASB Luncheon. Mr. Dees spoke to the students about his humble roots in
rural Alabama, his formative years as a civil rights lawyer, and his current effots
to curtail discrimination against immigrants.
The Fourth Annual ASB took place from March 11-15, 2013. This year, ASB added even
more tracks, including "Street Court" where students partnered with the Shelby County
Public Defender's office to expunge outstanding court fees for homeless individuals.
Street Court helped over 70 individuals receive legal counseling so that their issues
would not longer be barriers to finding housing and jobs. Over forty-eight law students
from seven schools served over 145 clients in ASB. ASB chose a Civil Rights theme,
featured an educational series of "hot topics" throughout the week, and hosted keynote
speaker Mike Cody, who represented Dr. Martin Luther King when the City of Memphis
attempted to stop the sanitation workers' march in Memphis.