About Us

This Year’s Trips

We are excited to announce that the Site Leaders for LAW Breaks 2020 are:

Derrick Vallejos & Brittany Baker | Asylum Law, Dilley, TX

Julia Florey & Phil Gasperetti | Domestic Violence, Chicago

Alec Richards | Public Defense, Nashville or New Orleans Public Defender’s Office

Amanda Ibrahim | LGBTQ+ Rights, Orlando, FL

Michael Semel | Housing & Community Development, Detroit, MI

Reese Hoggans & Anthony Oxendine | Tribal Law, Navajo Nation/Muskogee Nation

Pat McDonell | Public Defense/Civil Legal Aid, St. Louis, MO

Our Mission and A Brief History

Legal Alternative Winter Breaks (LAW Breaks) offers service-learning experiences for Michigan Law students during the traditional Spring Break of the academic calendar. The trips are designed to provide a brief immersion into the human side of a pressing legal or social justice issue. Students meet and work together with actors on many sides of the relevant issues, contribute to important social justice work, and have a chance to bond with fellow students outside of the law school.

LAW Breaks began in 2011, when a small group of 1L’s decided to spend their spring breaks helping immigrants in Arizona. The following year, our organization returned to Arizona, along with adding trips to New Orleans and South Dakota. We have traveled to different sites around the world since then and the program continues to grow!


Our Goals & Philosophy Statement

The most important objective of the trip is to instill an interest in pro bono work early in law students’ careers. These trips emphasize the importance of identifying a need in the community, regardless of where the students end up practicing, and using legal skills to help the marginalized population. These trips are especially important for students who plan to join the private sector upon graduation; we want to encourage continued involvement in pro bono work throughout our students’ careers as attorneys.

Another objective of LAW Breaks is to offer students insight into community issues. Through speakers and pro bono work, it is our hope that students will interact with a community far different from their own and gain personal insight into their struggles. This opportunity allows students to apply academic concepts to real world problems and understand the impact of the legal system on the community in a very real way.

A continuing objective for us as an organization is to identify relevant legal issues and find exciting community partners for all of our trips. The people the students interact with are the most important part of the experience and we continue to strive to make the experiences as impactful and fulfilling as possible.


Sustainability Statement

LAW Breaks strives to sustain connections with our community partners. Several of our trips work with the same partner organizations year after year. As the number of trips and locations of our trips vary from year to year, we continue to reach out to other community organizations to build new connections, while fostering the relationships we have already built with prior partners. LAW Breaks remains committed to the long-term execution of this program, and we are happy to have the support and enthusiasm of many of our recurring partner organizations.

If you are a non-profit organization offering legal services and would like to partner with LAW Breaks, please contact the board at the email address below.


The Board

The LAW Breaks board can be contacted by email at lawbreaks@umich.edu.

Applications & Logistics: Lydia Pincsak, Michael Semel & Pat McDonell

Fundraising & Finance: Elena Malik, Sam Loney, Jenn Arnold & Melqui Fernandez

Communications: Mary Novakovic

1L Representative: Héctor González Medina