Student FAQs

Lanie SummerlinReviewing the final details with Lanie Summerlin (right).

The Elder Law Clinic Course – CLOSING IN SUMMER 2020. QUESTIONS? See Dean Wendy Parker.

Upper level students get training in the general civil practice of law with an emphasis on the growing field of elder law.  Students are under the supervision of Prof. Kate Mewhinney, a certified elder law attorney who has served as the director of the clinic since 1991.  Students represent clients in a range of matters, including wills, guardianship, fraud, and other concerns.  They also have opportunities to participate in the Kulynych Geriatric Consult Clinic (KGCC) at the medical school and have a class taught by a member of the medical school faculty.  See below for FAQs.

The Elder Law Clinic helps students:

  • understand the substantive laws affecting the elderly, such as guardianship and Medicaid
  • improve their interviewing, counseling and writing skills
  • increase their appreciation of the unmet need for legal assistance
  • identify and handle professional ethical issues

The Clinic gives students direct experience advocating for their clients in many arenas, such as:

  • negotiating with agencies such as the Department of Social Services
  • handling some litigation, allowing them to argue civil motion hearings and to draft and answer discovery
  • participating in mediation of family disputes and consumer issues
  • preparing briefs and persuasive letters to decision-makers in administrative hearings

Here’s what students have said on recent course evaluations:

  •  This Clinic course opened my eyes to the complexity of aging people and their problems.  I feel that I became much more skilled at handling the difficult dynamics of a client’s life and family.
  • I am better prepared to help my parents and grandparents as they age.
  • I  liked giving a talk on legal issues, at Green Street Methodist Church.  The audience asked great questions and seemed to appreciate the information I provided.
  • Each client and their families are different. Some may have great support systems, while others may have nothing to help them as they age.  And it’s not like the Clinic is just ‘old people law’ like so many people think.  It’s more than just wills.  They don’t just have elder issues. They have life issues that we all face.
  • I really enjoyed the clinic. The professor was very knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. At the beginning it felt overwhelming, but there probably is no way around that.
  • This is the greatest experience I have had in law school. Professor Mewhinney is not only wonderful to learn from, but she is someone who I really admire as a professional. I have a much better understanding about how a law firm is run. Working with clients has also been a great experience. I would recommend this class to everyone.

Also see the Clinic’s client reviews.