Flash Mob Lawyering to Protect Our Coast

Flash mobs.  We’ve all heard of them: large groups of people coming together out of nowhere for a short amount of time to make something awesome happen.  My first flash mob experience was in New Orleans during Halloween 2009.  A friend was part of the “Thriller” flash mob that danced all over the French Quarter and the Marigny that night.  I thought it was fantastic, a random group of people coming together to dance in the middle of the street.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of flash mobs.  The people driving through the French Quarter that night were pretty annoyed that they were delayed by a group dancing in the street.  And the recent rash of flash mob robberies worried me.  It got me thinking:  how can we harness the power of the masses for good instead of evil?

My answer?  Flash mob lawyering.  On January 5-7, twenty-five law student volunteers from the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law descended on San Diego Coastkeeper to volunteer their time and legal talents to help the environment.

The group was split into half, with each group given a different project.  One group completed a project focused on cigarette butt waste. They researched existing business owner liability for cigarette butts, prepared an annotated bibliography of studies about business owner litter best practices, and designed and pilot tested a business owner litter/cigarette butt survey.

The second group focused on Coastkeeper’s Pollution Patroller program. The team field-tested the existing program and new technology we are hoping to launch related to the program.  They patrolled four cities, gave feedback on the program and technology, prepared new training materials, and laid out a framework for a more efficient and effective pollution patroller program.

Altogether, the student volunteers donated just under 600 hours of time to Coastkeeper and made a huge impact in a short amount of time.  Interested in doing a similar flash mob project? Contact us.