Fall classes are in full swing at Mitchell Hamline, and that means the school’s Mobile Law Network—with its signature vehicle, nicknamed the “Wheels of Justice”—is back on the road.
The specially outfitted RV, complete with private offices, transports students to events where they provide free legal assistance under the guidance of Mitchell Hamline faculty.
On Friday, Sept. 15, the big RV was at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings, Minn., as part of an “Open Courthouse” event to mark Constitution Day.
Trinity Charles, a first-year student in the HYBRID J.D. program, said the community interaction was a great opportunity for hands-on learning. “You actually put what you’re learning about into practice,” she said.
On Saturday, Sept. 16, students boarded the vehicle and made their way to Shakopee, Minn., for a forum and immigration law clinic. Mitchell Hamline students joined lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association in providing legal reviews and screenings for people who immigrated to the U.S. as children without the proper paperwork.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken also spoke at the event. The Shakopee Valley News reported that Franken expressed confidence that Congress will act on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after President Trump gave lawmakers six months to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.
“That is going to spur us to act,” Franken said. “And we have Democrats and Republicans and we are going to do everything that we can, and we’re going to do this.”
The work of the Mobile Law Network will continue throughout the year, giving students real world experience in several areas including health directives, criminal expungements, and immigration law.
Vice president of community relations and operations Christine Szaj says new partnerships with non-profit organizations will help the “Wheels of Justice” expand its outreach into the community this year.
“Community engagement requires a different set of skills from our students,” Szaj said. “Students who volunteer to participate in our outreach programs have to be ready for the unexpected, think on their feet, and respond professionally and compassionately to the realities of people who live complex lives. Our students are ready for this.”