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In June, following his acceptance to Tulane University, Morin and his wife bought a home in New Orleans, a few blocks from the French Quarter. Then, a week after classes began, Katrina hit. Morin and his wife, like countless others, had to evacuate the city, and they made their way to her parents’ house in Tinton Falls. The good news was that within days, Morin was again enrolled as a law student. He is one of 15 students from Tulane and from Loyola University School of Law who began taking classes and playing catch up last week at Seton Hall, Rutgers University-Newark and Rutgers-Camden law schools. The local program is part of an effort nationwide. More than 1,200 displaced law students were back in classes last week, thanks to deans at accredited law schools across the country who, with help from the American Bar Association and the American Association of Law Schools, set up a listserv and a bulletin board to facilitate quick placements. Emory Law School in Atlanta, which is allowing Tulane to share its Web site, was the first school to announce, on Sept. 2, that it would admit 40 displaced 2Ls and 3Ls. And in a few days, other law schools followed suit. Most law schools, like Seton Hall and Rutgers, agreed to take a limited number of students, waive tuition and give them visiting status for as long as it takes. “We are more than happy to help any student or faculty who needs assistance during this crisis,” says Anita Walton, assistant dean for admissions at Rutgers-Newark, where three 3Ls started on or shortly after Sept. 1. “It is not a strain on our resources.” Most of the 15 students taken in by New Jersey law schools have New Jersey connections. “Most of the students have either friends or family in the greater New York-New Jersey area,” says Walton. Four 1Ls (including Morin), four 2Ls and two 3Ls started last Tuesday at Seton Hall School of Law, according to Cara Foerst, assistant dean for student services. “The majority do seem to have some New Jersey connection,” she says. One of the students has a brother at the school, one is Morin, one had been admitted but decided to attend Tulane and one is living with a cousin in the Bronx, she says. Two 1Ls started at Rutgers-Camden last Wednesday, says Maureen O’Boyle, associate director of admissions at Rutgers-Camden. “My sense is the students we have spoken to are interested in returning to their home state to attend law school,” says O’Boyle. The deans say that because of the uncertainty about when New Orleans will be habitable, the question of whether students could choose to matriculate at local schools may arise down the road. “We’re flexible,” says Seton Hall Dean Patrick Hobbs. “No one really knows whether it will take a semester or a year for these schools to get up and running. We’ll work with the students and the schools in whatever way we can.” O’Boyle says the school expects the students will return to their original schools after a semester or year at Rutgers. If staying permanently is an issue, it will have to be addressed later. Three visiting students say they are not addressing their long-term plans but rather are trying to focus on the same coursework they would have been pursuing in New Orleans. Sarah Marcus, a 3L from Tulane who arrived at her parents’ home in Short Hills on Aug. 30, the day the first levee broke, was attending classes at Rutgers-Newark on Sept. 1. Her mother is a law graduate of Rutgers-Newark; her father, Robert Marcus, is of counsel with Springfield’s Kraemer Burns Mytelka Lovell & Kulka; and Sarah interned over the summer at Westfield’s Farer Fersko. “The process of getting into Rutgers was very quick,” says Marcus. “Rutgers couldn’t have made it easier. It has been quite a whirlwind of a week but reality is beginning to sink in. I’m two weeks behind in work.” Marcus says she’ll miss her work on the board at Tulane’s law review. But she’s satisfied to have matched her schedule at Tulane with courses in evidence, professional responsibility, elder law, environmental law and employment discrimination. She flew to Dallas to visit her uncle two days before the storm. She left a second-floor apartment near Tulane and her car on the third floor of an above-ground airport parking lot. When Marcus heard one of the levees had broken, she left her uncle’s home and arrived at her parents’ house on Aug. 30. The next day, her father met with a dean of Rutgers-Newark, and she was in her first class on Thursday. What about returning to Tulane? It’s a crapshoot, says her father. “The first thing the dean was putting out was the school would reopen in two weeks,” says Marcus. “But it’s all unclear. First they’ve got to salvage the university … and once they do that, will there be any infrastructure, any place to live, any food to eat?” John Sobala is a Loyola 3L also at Rutgers-Newark. He grew up in East Windsor, where he now lives with his parents. Like Marcus, he left New Orleans on Saturday, two days before the storm hit. “After seeing the damage to certain areas of the city when Tropical Storm Cindy tore through during the summer, I didn’t want to find out what any type of hurricane might do to the city,” he says. Sobala flew to Fort Lauderdale to spend time with his girlfriend and her family and then began searching for other law schools. “Being a resident of New Jersey, I contacted Rutgers and was warmly welcomed into the community,” he says. “Going to Rutgers has certainly made my life much easier and I couldn’t be happier.” Sobala is aware of his good fortune. “The real victims are those who have lost their lives, have had houses destroyed and their memories washed away. I have lost clothes and other effects, but have still managed to keep my life together and keep my education on track. At this point I just want to graduate, and move on with my life.” Morin, the 1L living with his in-laws in Tinton Falls, is pleased that Seton Hall has the same curriculum he was studying at Tulane. “As a 1L, there weren’t many schools offering us a place to go, but I was lucky to have found Seton Hall,” says Morin. “Their curriculum is pretty much the same that we would have taken at Tulane, so it would be easy for me to return when they begin their classes, whenever that may be.” Will he return? “I don’t know as of yet, but we do have a lot invested in the city, considering that we have only owned the house for three months,” says Morin. “My wife lost her job down there because of the storm, so right now we don’t have any income — she was an instructor at the University of New Orleans, working at the university-run charter school where she headed the special ed program.” They contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency and their insurer but their claims were denied because they don’t have proof that anything happened to their house and the house cannot be inspected right now. They also called their mortgage company to say they could not afford the payments as well as rent when they find an apartment, but were told to call back in a month. But they have been through difficulties before, during his deployments to Iraq. He says, “We will keep moving along, a little slower than usual, but life will continue.” “This is still an evolving story,” says Gisele Joachim, assistant dean of admissions and financial resource management at Seton Hall.

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