Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath exposed dramatic flaws in the government's capability to respond effectively and judiciously to the needs of people and communities affected by natural and man-made disasters. The hurricane and flood also exposed the fault lines of systemic poverty and racism, and highlighted the glaring gaps in the legal system's ability to respond to events of this magnitude, as well as the failures of federal, state and local governments to collaborate in disaster prevention, response and reconstruction.
Starting in 2007, with the creation of a new Disaster & the Law course, a group of UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL) students, faculty and alumni have traveled to Louisiana over each spring break to provide legal services to Gulf Coast residents. During these trips, students have worked with organizations such as the Pro Bono Project for the Greater New Orleans area, Orleans Public Defender, New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, St. Bernard's Parish Project and the Louisiana ACLU.
In recognition, the Pro Bono Project for the Greater New Orleans area named UDC-DCSL its 2007 "Law School of the Year" for the outstanding volunteer legal services provided by law students, professors and alumni in support of The Project’s mission to provide access to civil legal services for the poor and indigent through volunteer attorneys of the private bar. Also in 2007, UDC-DCSL faculty, students, alumni and administrators, represented by Professors McLain and Waysdorf, were honored, along with other out-of-town lawyers who came to New Orleans to assist in the recovery effort, at an award ceremony held in New Orleans by the Supreme Court of Louisiana and the Louisiana State Bar Association "for the generous donation of legal expertise and dedication to helping the victims and families affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”
Contributions to the Katrina Fund support the cost of lodging, airfare and other travel expenses for students providing legal services in Louisiana.