Appalachia Externship


Appalachia Externship (LAW 75800)

Each fall break and spring break, the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalReD) hosts six Notre Dame law students who are introduced to the Appalachian region and who provide pro bono legal services to area residents. The program is funded by the Faegre Baker Daniels Foundation. AppalReD is the umbrella legal services organization for the rugged coal mining region in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Students work with both AppalReD staff attorneys at their headquarters in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, and with a local private attorney closely associated with AppalReD who addresses a variety of civil rights and environmental issues related to rural poverty and coal mining operations. Throughout the week, students are introduced to the culture, poverty, and legal issues of this unique region.

Appalachia Fall 2012 Participants
“This group has been absolutely fabulous! They have done awesome work here,” said Kristie Stephens, Chief Legal Secretary of AppalReD Legal Aid regarding Notre Dame Law School’s Fall 2012 students.

Past externship participants have conducted client meetings to prepare simple pleadings in family law matters, helped victims of a flood caused by the collapse of a coal mine impoundment respond to interrogatories, developed forms and materials to assist pro se litigants, and performed legal research projects for AppalReD attorneys, among other projects. Students have also observed court proceedings, met with lawyers and judges, watched a historical documentary at a cultural center, met with the founder of AppalReD, toured “mountaintop removal” coal mining sites, and have otherwise been introduced to many facets of the Appalachian region through the extraordinary hospitality of the AppalReD staff and the local bench and bar.

Students are prepared for the externship experience through readings, films, and several classroom sessions conducted by Professor Jones at the law school. During the externship, students keep a daily diary of their experiences. Students then attend a debriefing session and prepare a reflection paper upon their return.

The Appalachia Externship is closely associated with the Appalachia Seminar of the Center for Social Concerns, through which 200 undergraduate students spend their fall or spring breaks in Appalachia. The Appalachia Seminar provides logistical assistance and educational resources for the externship.
The costs of travel and lodging are borne by the law school, through the generosity of Faegre Baker Daniels, which provides a rental van, gas, and and a cabin at Jenny Wiley State Park.

Students generally depart on Sunday morning of the first weekend of break and arrive in Prestonsburg on Sunday afternoon. They return to South Bend the following Friday evening.

Students register for the Appalachia Externship like any other course. There is no application or other special procedure. The Appalachia Externship does not meet the upper level experiential course requirement for the class of 2018, but it DOES count toward the six-hour experiential course requirement for the classes of 2019 and beyond.