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Nguyen, '06, Directs ABA Young Lawyer Disaster Legal Services Program

02/06/2013

The area hit by Hurricane Sandy will take years to recover. It’s difficult to comprehend how one single person could make a significant impact to help people cope with the aftermath of the storm.

But David Nguyen, ’06, is such a person. Nguyen will tell you that sometimes, the best way to make a difference in an area marked by a natural disaster is to concentrate on what will make individual lives better. He points to a photograph of a man who lost all of his identification documentation in the storm, and needed the help of a lawyer to start putting that portion of his life back together.

Nguyen is director of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer’s Division Disaster Legal Services program. He spent three days in mid-November 2012 in New York City helping with recovery efforts, and traveled there again for a few days in January 2013 to offer more assistance.

While Hurricane Katrina was a horrible storm when it hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, “In many ways Sandy was much worse,” said Nguyen, “when you consider the density of the population and the complexity of the infrastructure.” There were obvious signs of recovery on the second trip, he said.

Getting the telephone lines in place took about a week and a half after the storm hit the Northeastern United States on October 29, 2012. “We foresee the recovery process going on for years,” he said.

Nguyen has been involved with the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division Disaster Legal Services program since August 2010. He became acting director in February 2011, and has been director since August 2011. He got involved at the behest of Matthew Besmer, ’06, who preceded him in the program’s director’s position. Ryan Hamilton, ’06, serves as vice director of the program. “There’s a huge contingent of this law school that’s a part of this program,” Nguyen said with pride.

Spending about a quarter of his time as a solo practitioner in Indianapolis, Nguyen is pursuing a doctorate in higher education policy on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. He teaches on legal and ethical issues for teachers. His solo practice concentrates on business, family, and immigration law in the Vietnamese community in Indiana.


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