Tribal members receive free legal services from Columbia Law students

Columbia Law students visit OK

ANADARKO, OK (TNN) - A group of students from Columbia Law School in New York is spending their spring break offering free legal services to Oklahomans in need.

Seven students partnered with the nonprofit Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, who they'll be working with all week across the state.

"I thought this was an awesome opportunity for law students going to Columbia who want to serve tribal members and learn more about Native American law to come to Oklahoma, the center of the United States, home to more than 30 tribes and see the unique relationship here that you won’t see anywhere in the United States,” said Columbia Law School student Mari Hulbutta.

The work started Monday in Anadarko, with trips to Holdenville and Ada coming later in the week.

"We travel all around the state like here, the CFR Court in Anadarko to really bring the services to individual people. We know a lot of folks that need our services can’t come to Oklahoma City or a major metropolitan area to get their will done and get their legal questions answered. So that’s why we like to bring our services to them so it’s more accessible,” said Jacintha Webster with Oklahoma Indian Legal Services.

They’re answering any questions the clients have but the work is focusing on writing wills to make sure the clients are prepared for when they die.

"Making sure your children are provided for, making sure there isn’t as much issues when you go to do the probate, preparing the end of life documents, the advanced directives, those are really a gift to your family and to your children so they aren’t having to make those hard decisions when, unfortunately, the time comes,” Webster said.

That work impacts those receiving the services, but also is a great learning tool for the students.

"As law students we spend a lot of time in the classroom and in the library reading books and their aren’t’ too many opportunities to engage with clients. This is an important experience for us to get real world legal experience and hopefully do some good work and hopefully have an impact in the community,” Hulbutta said.

The students from Columbia will only be here this week, but Oklahoma Indian Legal Services continues to work year-round. You can find more information about them, including when they will hold their next free clinic in our area here.

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