I'm interested in Public Interest and I was actually seriously thinking of applying to Tulane because I'd imagine there are a lot of opportunities to get experience by being involved in post-Katrina legal disputes. Do you think this is true or am I just imagining things?
Also, could you talk a little bit about NOLA- i.e., is it safe from a health standpoint (had a few friends go to volunteer, and they said a lot of places are hazardous and still very toxic)? Is it safe from a crime standpoint too? I'd be very interested to learn more about the city and the area around Tulane.
There are lots of Public Interest opportunites in New Orleans right now, but most of the 1Ls I know (including myself) have only been able to do a bit, since 1L is crazy enough as is. But clinical opportunities are GREAT for 2 and 3Ls, and there is a 30 hour Pro-Bono requirement to graduate. And, if you want to get involved on the non-law side of things, there is still loads of rebuilding to do (Habitat for Humantiy, etc.)
As for heath - there are still places that certain organizations require volunteers to wear masks to prevent breathing in mold, but this is mostly so they don't get sued
There are no real heath concerns in the parts of the city that a law student would live in/visit, etc, mostly just in areas that you would need a organization to go in with (like parts of St. Bernard Parish, which are off limits to non-locals/volunteers anywhere while rebuilding is happening.
For the most part, the city is safe. The area around Tulane is great, looks basically the same as it did before Katrina, as does the French Quarter, CBD, Magazine St., mostly all of uptown. But, it is still a city - there have been a few robberies of drunk undergrads walking home from the bars at 2 a.m., which the school has been warning about. Basically, if you are smart, you will be fine, like anywhere else.
And, New Orleans is great - really fun, with lots of great bars, restaurants, art galleries, etc.