29 December 2005

New Orleans - Day 3 - Gyros and the finding out why we're here

Starting with a hearty breakfast at Gyro’s the team got everything between grits (good, I'm told) and pancakes (bad). Our "office" is two blocks from our hotel (unplanned, but very fortunate). Our morning training divided us into four groups.
(1) Two will travel to Covington across the lake.
(2) Two will work bankruptcy,
(3) Two on DV cases (helping get divorces that were in the process when the hurricane struck, etc),
(4) One on the phones,
(5) Two will be on Predatory Lending (I was here until I was given a new assignment:)
(6) I’m working on a memo for a brief that Mark (our absentee director) is submitting on Jan 4 (supposed to return on Jan 3rd).

All the attorney’s are fantastic in completely different ways. David (in charge of predatory lending) is just what I envision when I think of a social justice, down to business (literally), advocate: skinny, fashionable glasses, salt and (more) pepper hair, and a vegetarian streak.
Bernadette (DV, misc) seems in control and happy, a rare combo in the legal profession so far as I’ve seen. She has two kids, one entering Tulane as a 1L and another in grad school in LA.
Jay (bankruptcy) is enthralling, he is a smallish NO native with some kinda thick accent (Cajun?) and a screeching laugh when he thinks something is really funny. He's going to make the trip a lot better all by himself.
Mark is the director currently in Tawian but returning soon.

The issue of who's returning and who's staying away is really the big issue for those who've come back. There were about 500,000 people in NO parish before Katrina and I''ve hear estimates between 60,000-120,000 have returned. One lawyer working on voter registration (we met at a bar, see tomorrow's post) said we won't really know until the election how many people are really back, and even then it's just a minimum to get a better estimate.

More students arriving today, 3L's with a rented Kia. More car means more traveling about, we went out to eat in the Garden District which is like a little Noe Valley just outside of downtown NO. I got a little bummed talking with everyone about defense side firm work at dinner, I understand people have their priorities, I just worry if law school and firm salaries have changed those priorities and if I can make it through the same process. They get defensive of their choices and I feel the tug of my loans too, maybe that's what makes me keep bringing the subject up even if I never get any answers I like.

After dinner we returned to the French Quarter to find a bar/commedy club owned by Judge Harry from Night Court. He runs a community meeting every Wednesday night where returned residents have their say about what should be done, what was done right or wrong, who's to blame, and what to do next. Our supervisor Jay was there handing out papers on what he thought should be done next. We got a few PBRs and took it all in, met the Judge, got invited to see "Chris's" vintage shop where only one anti-semetic comment was made and we got invited to a "secret" New Years party. Some of us walked home (the Kia would probably struggle to fit 8 people, myself counting as perhaps and extra half body) with the hope of Cafe Du Monde which was, bummer, closed (no longer 24 hour, 6am-10pm now).

Anyway, later that night the beans and rice with sausage disagreed with me and I had to stay home for the next morning (Dec. 29th), ugg.

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