2024 Pro Bono Spring Break Spotlight

Eight Vanderbilt law students worked for three legal nonprofit organizations over their 2024 Pro Bono Spring Break to support a variety of projects for nonprofit organizations in Tennessee and West Virginia.

Free Hearts, Nashville, TN

Group leader Callie Spencer ‘26 and teammates Jiayi Yin ’25, Karli Tellis ‘26, and Zhiying Liang LLM’24 worked on a variety of projects for Free Hearts, a Tennessee statewide organization led by formerly incarcerated women that provides support, education, advocacy, and organizing families impacted by incarceration. Their work involved remediating voter disenfranchisement, policy building on their Free the People Free the Vote agenda, post-conviction remedies, and building a statewide law student movement network.

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands, Nashville, TN

Dani Brody ’26 and Maggie Ren ‘25 provided research on disability access and community integration for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands (LASMTC), whose mission is to enforce, advance, and defend the legal rights of low income and vulnerable people in order to obtain for them the basic necessities of life. Their work culminated in a brief documenting the struggles associated with lack of access to adult-sized changing tables, as well as a guide to locating adult-sized changing tables in Tennessee.

“I really enjoyed working for LASMTC over spring break because it showed me how versatile advocacy can be,” said Brody. “It was very rewarding to step outside the doctrinal bubble of school and make a concrete difference in people’s lives.”

Legal Aid of West Virginia, Huntington, WV

Emma Harrison ’24 led her group comprising Ruiying Yang LLM’24 and Grace Hays ‘25 to West Virginia, to support three legal popup clinics run by Legal Aid of West Virginia, a statewide nonprofit organization providing free legal services and advocacy. The clinics focused on wills, name changes, and expungement/driver’s license reinstatement – the Vanderbilt team ended up assisting clients with 45 different matters through the clinics over the course of the project. “The clinics were incredibly well-received by the community,” said Harrison, a West Virginia native and three-time group leader on Pro Bono Spring Break. “For me personally, it was great to give back to my home state.”

To learn more about this project, read this recap from Legal Aid of West Virginia.