RISE 2019 Conference

Transforming University Engagement In Pre- and Post-Disaster Environments: Lessons from Puerto Rico

Kim Diana Connolly

Professor; Director of Clinical Legal Education; Vice Dean for Advocacy and Experiential Education

University at Buffalo, State University of New York


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Professor and Vice Dean Kim Diana Connolly directs the experiential learning program at the University at Buffalo School of Law. As part of that work, she directs UB’s Puerto Rico Recovery Assistance Legal Clinic. Since September 2017, she has provided student attorneys practical legal research and thoughtful pro bono service, through an ongoing collaborative effort to empower a resilient Puerto Rico.

In the Clinic, student attorneys have dedicated thousands of hours to provide service to the Islands. They have also used their training to provide much needed pro bono legal services to some displaced Puerto Ricans who now call Buffalo home. Upon returning from their service-learning trip to Puerto Rico, student attorneys also produce papers to provide policy guidance to help continue the work for those in need, both one the islands and locally.

Connolly served as a VISTA volunteer after graduating with an undergraduate chemistry degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and received her certification in non-profit management from Duke University while doing anti-poverty work for three years. She then studied law at Georgetown, and went into private practice in Washington, DC. She thereafter enrolled in a graduate law program at night while working so that she could apply to enter academic teaching. An inveterate student even after more than a dozen years with tenure, Professor Connolly completed a graduate certification in Restorative Practices in 2018. You can read more about her other work here: https://www.law.buffalo.edu/faculty/facultyDirectory/ConnollyKimDiana.html