Spending Spring Break Serving Others


UCI Law students volunteered virtually for the Mississippi Center for Justice

UCI Law students spent part of their spring break doing what UCI Law students do best – volunteering their time helping others. Earlier this month, nine students volunteered virtually for the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ), by conducting research, collecting evidence, identifying witnesses, and much more.

“This is the eleventh year that UCI Law students have assisted MCJ attorneys,” said Anna Davis, Director of Pro Bono Programs at UCI Law. “While the first ten years were in person, the students made a huge pivot to help remotely this year and I am beyond proud of them for being creative and dedicated enough to do so.”

Each year, MCJ usually receives assistance from various law schools and their students during the spring break season, however this year UCI Law was the only law school to provide spring break volunteering hours. The students gained valuable experience engaging in some of the following activities:

  • Researching housing and property information for community members to help them better understand their rights and responsibilities.
  • Drafting affidavits for clients facing housing discrimination due to family status, disability, and/or gender.
  • Investigating whether DACA recipients can be admitted to practice law in various states, including in Mississippi.
  • Writing content and scripts for a weekly radio show hosted by MCJ, which provides crucial information to different communities in Mississippi.

“Working with the Mississippi Center for Justice during spring break was exciting and enriching,” said Sarah Beydoun, a first year UCI Law student. “Despite the online format of the program this year, the MCJ attorneys were very accessible, helpful, and involved – it was a wonderful experience.”

Sarah participated in the Heirs Property Project, conducting research on whether one co-tenant to a property could purchase the taxes on that property and use them to the detriment of their other co-tenants. She explained that she learned a lot about taxes and property law over the course of the week.

“The research we did wasn't esoteric or irrelevant. It definitely felt like the questions we worked to answer would touch the lives of real people with real problems,” said Sarah.

“We are so lucky to have this commitment from UCI Law students every year—the quality of work and enthusiasm for every project is first-rate,” said Beth Orlansky, MCJ Advocacy Director. “One advantage of virtual participation is that we’ve been able to use UCI Law students remotely throughout the fall for immigration cases and justice court virtual observations. We missed hosting the students in each of our offices this year and look forward to sharing Mississippi with next year’s students.”

More about the Mississippi Center for Justice 

The Mississippi Center for Justice is a nonprofit, public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice. Opening its doors in 2003 with a simple mission: to dismantle the policies that keep Mississippi at the bottom of nearly every indicator of human well-being and deny African-American and lower-income Mississippians the opportunity to advance themselves. The Center is working to advance racial and economic justice through an approach that combines legal services with political advocacy, community education and media outreach. It partners with national, regional and community organizations to develop and implement campaigns designed to create a better future for all.