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Alumni participate in NCBA Elder and Special Needs Law Symposium

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Alumni from the Elder Law Clinic of Wake Forest Law participated in the 2014 Elder & Special Needs Law Symposium and VA Accreditation Course, presented by the N.C. Bar Association Foundation, which was held in Pinehurst, N.C., on Feb. 27-28. There were 125 people who attended the conference. The Wake Forest Elder Law Clinic  has helped train attorneys who now practice across this state.  For more information about these impressive alumni see here.

A Bird’s Eye View

A warm welcome from Jenica Cassidy.

Jenica Cassidy was thrilled to work at the ABA Commission on Law and Aging in D.C. during the summer of 2013.  While there, she wrote articles for the Commission’s newsletter about guardianship restoration and end-of-life legal issues.

In the Elder Law Clinic, Jenica gained more experience on policy development.  She helped the Kaiser Family Foundation evaluate how well our state is providing non-institutional services to disabled elders.  Jenica gathered data showing that many people are on waiting lists for home- and community-based services, despite meeting eligibility criteria.  The waits often exceed a year, leaving elders and their families with tremendous burdens.

While in the clinic, Jenica handled three guardianship cases.  She also gave a talk about legal issues to the Early Journey Support Group, an innovative program for people with early memory loss and their family members.  It is directed by Ed Shaw, M.D., M.A., of the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

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Clients on Campus: A First at Wake Forest Law School

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Clients are coming into the law school for legal help, which is a first for Wake Forest University.  The Elder Law Clinic is up and running on the university’s main campus, a convenient location for students.

Much has changed since the Elder Law Clinic started in 1991.  The law school now offers several community-oriented programs taught by clinical faculty.  These clinics give students practical experience in business law, criminal law, appellate law, and children’s law.  Complementing the clinics are a wide variety of externships and a robust pro bono program.

In the Elder Law Clinic, the unpredictability of real client cases kept the clinic students on their toes.  They honed their interview skills, navigated complicated legal rules, and counseled clients about the wisdom of different options.  These eight  “associates” were hard working, compassionate and creative!

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¡Gracias!

Lauren Karp (L) met with her client and volunteer translator Zabrina Delgado (C).

Lauren Karp (L) met with her client and volunteer translator Zabrina Delgado (C).

This retired hospital employee came to the Elder Law Clinic for a will and power of attorney.  Lauren Karp met with her several times.  Special thanks to Zabrina Delgado, a first-year law student, who translated from Spanish.

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He Needs a Place to Live

 The #1 priority for Elizabeth Vance’s client was her son.  She wanted her will to provide that he would always have a home.  He has mental health issues.  Giving a “life estate” is a fairly  common request by clients who have a dependent relative.  Complicating this case, though, was the fact that the client’s real estate title is shared with her ex-husband.  Elizabeth researched laws on property partition and checked with the zoning board to see if she could get the title in her client’s name alone.

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Voter ID: Suppressing Voting or Preventing Fraud?

The N.C. legislature recently passed a law that requires a photo ID to vote.  Jesse Hynes researched how this would affect older, low-income citizens.  He learned that older people are 18 percent of active voters but 26 percent of those without ID.

Jesse contacted two groups working on voting rights issues, Democracy N.C. and the N.C. Center for Voter Education.  The Clinic is exploring ways to collaborate with these organizations and others to help older people get what they need to vote.

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Community Thanks

“We especially appreciated Lauren Karp’s demeanor and her genuine interest in our situation.  Our family is very appreciative of your services and assistance. Without you, we would continue to be at a loss regarding our options.  Now we have some direction.”

Ben Limehouse was patient in answering questions and giving explanations.  He was very understanding of Mom’s special needs.”

“The Clinic’s service is very professional.  Megan Endersby is so caring and explained things thoroughly.”

“Jenica Cassidy was quite personable and took a real interest in me and my needs.  She was responsive and knowledgeable.”

“Elizabeth Vance did a very good job explaining things to me.  I was going to send her a card and tell her how pleased I was with her.  She is a sweet person.”

“I felt at ease from the beginning with Alice Hicks.”

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A Medical Partner

A high poiDr. Shenita Spencer - Headshotnt of the semester was a class taught by Shenita Spencer, M.D., of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  Dr. Spencer has completed a geriatrics fellowship and is doing a palliative care fellowship.  She gave the law students an overview of mental capacity issues of older patients, and addressed common misunderstandings about end-of-life medical care.  Her energy and dedication were inspiring.

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More Experiential Learning

Alice Hicks

Clarification from Alice Hicks.

Alice Hicks will work at the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) next semester  through the D.C. externship program.  She was a pension benefits actuary before law school.

Julianna O’Neill has been a leader in public interest work, co-chairing the school’s Pro Bono Project.  She will spend a semester at the International Justice Mission (IJM) in Washington, also through the externship program, tackling issues of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of oppression.  E-Clinic alumnus Blair Burns (’00), serves as IJM’s Director of Operations for Southeast Asia.

Tiffany Tyler has opened an elder law practice in   Asheville, NC.  She saw clients at Senior Services of Winston-Salem before graduating last May.

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Parent=Piggy Bank?

Jesse Hynes discusses options with his client.

Jesse Hynes discusses options with his client.

Adult children can be a bit pushy and greedy.  As one student put it, “They treat her like their piggy bank!”  In the field of elder law, professional ethics and judgment play an important role in preventing undue influence.  It’s not enough to just know the law.

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