A Fresh Take on Clinic Cases: How W&M’s Elder and Disability Law Clinic is Taking on New and Challenging Cases While Providing Students With a Meaningful Learning Experience

By Ann Cortez, Elder Law Clinic Student, Spring 2015

Established in 2012, the William & Mary Law School Elder Law Clinic has worked hard to address the many needs of the elderly community in Hampton Roads. The practice of elder law is multi-faceted and within its purview the clinic has covered many legal issues including Medicaid application, elder abuse, the drafting of wills, the establishment of guardianship, and more. This expansive scope allows the Clinic to serve the community in a manner that addresses their most pressing needs. Through this work, many Clinic students have had the opportunity to help clients overcome various often time complex legal issues.

This semester, the Clinic has had the opportunity to expand its scope slightly due to a few select cases that have sought out the Clinic’s assistance.  Though all cases are in some vein related to the key legal issues that the Clinic focuses on, these cases have given the Clinic the opportunity to explore new legal issues in a manner that may open the door for similar cases in the future.

First, the Clinic has had the opportunity to work on a restoration case. Typically, the Clinic has focused on cases that focus on the appointing of guardianship and conservatorship over individuals, which effectively transfers the rights of that individual to an alternative party. This is often time used when the Court finds that the individual is unable to make decisions for and provide for him or herself in a healthy manner. Restoration, on the other hand, undoes the process of guardianship and restores the rights of the individual should the Court find them competent.

Second, the Clinic is currently exploring the opportunity of working on a probate case in which the Clinic would challenge the execution of a will. While this is of the same vein of drafting client wills and estate planning, this would be an expansion from the Clinic’s typical services as this may involve a more litigation based approach.

These creative cases speak to the accessibility and experience that the clinic has manifested over the last few years. As always, the Clinic continues to provide trustworthy and important legal services to their clients, and these cases are an exciting development in the Clinic’s achievement of its mission to serve the greater community