GALILEE, an acronym for Group Alternative Live-In Legal Education, gives Notre Dame law students an opportunity to learn about public interest and public service law through student-designed urban immersion programs over the winter break. Any Notre Dame law student (J.D. or L.L.M.) may participate.
The GALILEE program began in 1981 when six students and one professor participated in the first GALILEE immersion in Chicago. Now, over 100 Notre Dame law students, in numerous cities across the country, participate in three days of activities including meeting with legal and social service professionals, visiting battered women’s shelters, touring prisons, riding with police officers, observing court sessions, and performing service projects. GALILEE participants stay together in their chosen city in order to enhance their experience by allowing group reflection.
The program is inspired by the conviction that social justice and public service should play a role in the career of every Notre Dame lawyer. For some graduates, that service will take the form of full time work in a non-profit or governmental entity. For other graduates who pursue full time careers in private firms, that service will take the form of pro bono work and leadership in the bar or the community. GALILEE is designed to help NDLS students explore their own paths by introducing them to the social issues and legal problems confronting America’s most impoverished and marginalized residents and by introducing them to lawyers engaged in confronting those problems. In broadening students’ exposure to some of the myriad areas of public interest law, GALILEE works to develop students’ understanding of the unique role the legal profession plays in society. By spending several days meeting with public defenders and prosecutors, legal aid attorneys, judges, public policy advocates, private firm attorneys engaged in pro bono work, governmental law agencies and other social service professionals, law students learn concretely how lawyers are engaged in addressing some of society’s most pressing problems.
The GALILEE program includes informational and reflective seminars before and after the immersions and requires submission of a paper documenting students’ reflections on their experiences. GALILEE participants earn one co-curricular credit (S/U).
GALILEE offers students a chance to see people putting their ideals into practice.
— Dan Cory, Chicago
Although I was skeptical about participating in the program initially, GALILEE turned out to be an incredible experience. It exposed me to a variety of public interest organizations in New York that work on cases ranging from asylum to housing to juvenile defense. In addition, I learned about the type of pro bono work that is done at large corporate firms. GALILEE enhanced my resume and was consistently a topic of conversation during my interviews for summer jobs. GALILEE also allowed me to spend time and become friends with classmates who I may not have otherwise met and we had a great time together!
— Keira McCarthy, New York
I didn’t want to say that I lived in South Bend for 3 years and never left campus. Through my participation with the South Bend group, I discovered that South Bend is a very dynamic place in terms of non-profit leadership, which is something that I am personally interested in. South Bend is one of the few cities in America where the non-profit sector is growing faster than the public and private sectors, I would have never known that had I not chosen to participate.
— Cordell Carter, South Bend
I chose to travel to Boston for GALILEE because I know I want to practice there after graduation. The experience really gave me a sense of how public interest law works in the city. We saw so many different ways that people with law degrees can contribute to assisting the urban poor. GALILEE reminded me of why I came to law school in the first place and energized me for my second semester.
— Chris Pearsall, Boston
Participating in Galilee in Chicago was a great way to finish up my first semester at law school. Seeing the real world impact of lawyers inspired me after a long and demanding Fall. It also expanded my idea of what a lawyer can do. Prior to Galilee, I had never really considered that even a homeless person needs a competent attorney to represent them. It also changed some of my pre-conceived notions about what particular types of lawyers do. I had a great time getting to know some of my classmates and learned more than I ever could have expected. Galilee was a fun and meaningful opportunity that I would gladly do again.
— Liz Anderson, Chicago
Read an article about the GALILEE experience in Spring 2006 Issue of the Lawyer.