Berkeley Law Alternative Service Trips (BLAST)

Six student participants and two student leaders will travel to eastern Kentucky over Spring Break 2018 to do pro bono work with local community legal organizations. Students will be divided into two groups. Each group will consist of three student participants and one student leader. 

Group A: Student participants will spend three days with the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund (AppalReD) in Prestonsburg, KY, where they will conduct a wills clinic and divorce clinic at various sites throughout the community. Here, students will use direct client services and legal research and writing skills to assist high needs residents with drafting wills and uncontested pro se divorce forms.

Group A participants will then spend two days with Ned Pillersdorf, a local attorney actively involved in pro bono work in the region. Currently, Pillersdorf, along with AppalReD and other pro bono attorneys in the area, represents former clients of Eric Conn, an eastern Kentucky disability attorney recently convicted of carrying out the largest fraud scheme in Social Security history. Following Conn’s conviction, the Social Security Administration terminated benefits for hundreds of Conn’s former clients. Students will assist with Pillersdorf’s efforts to have those benefits reinstated.

Group B: Student participants  will spend a week partnering with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center (ACLC) in Whitesburg, KY. At ACLC, students will assist attorneys in developing black lung benefits claims for former coal miners. This work will include meeting with clients, drafting claim briefs, and other similar tasks. 

Students from both groups may also have the opportunity to participate in non-legal volunteer work in the community. They will also meet with local community members, organizations, and activists to learn more about social and environmental justice work being done in eastern Kentucky communities. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to explore the role of coal mining in the region, through touring an abandoned coal mine and visiting mountaintop removal sites.

Boalt on Break will cover travel, lodging, and most meals for all student participants. However, in order to guarantee commitment to a program that requires significant preparation and planning, each participant will be expected to make a deposit of around $150 to secure a spot for the trip. This amount will be fully refunded to all students at the completion of the trip. If you anticipate that this will be a problem, please contact the SLP leaders at and we will be happy to work with you. We do not want this to deter anybody interested in the program.

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Time Commitment: The bulk of the time commitment will be during Spring Break (March 24-April 1, 2018). Students must plan to be available during the entire break. During the fall semester, students will, at a minimum, will be expected to participate in fundraising events to keep the trip free for participants. Leading up to the trip, students will work to develop an understanding of the culture and history of Eastern Kentucky and the surrounding Central Appalachian region. This will likely be done through monthly meetings, which will take the form of reading groups, film viewings, panel discussions, and guest speakers. Participants will be expected to attend these events.