A grant from the Auen Foundation will provide about 100 seniors with free legal assistance. The contribution was made to the Alona Cortese Elder Law Center at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. The funding will assist the Center as it provides law students with hands-on training to navigate low-income seniors through the complex court system.
“Not only is this a benefit to seniors who might otherwise attempt to represent themselves in cases of durable powers of attorney, elder abuse and financial scams, but many of our students say this clinical experience is their most memorable of law school,” said Tom Campbell, Dean, Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law, Chapman University. “It is our intention that the spirit of giving back starts with the generosity of the Auen Foundation and is perpetuated through our students even after they graduate by doing pro bono work during their careers.”
Each semester, professors work intensively with about 7–10 law students to develop their skills in working closely with clients and their legal issues. Many of the cases require daunting paperwork that must be carefully completed. The law students manage this court requirement and guide clients through the legal system, avoiding fees that can be upwards of $10,000 for private representation.
“The program at Chapman University assists people who cannot afford these legal services,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the Auen Foundation. “Seniors in situations of physical or financial abuse or other legal cases find themselves not dealing with important issues because they can’t afford it and because the process is overwhelming. We believe the program at the Alona Cortese Law Center is improving the lives of seniors, and we are proud to support the work happening there.”
The Center continues to increase the number of cases it handles each year, thanks to generous support like that of the Auen Foundation. The law program at Chapman University receives referrals from throughout southern California including from organizations such as the Public Law Center, Legal Aid and the court system. Many clients have had three or four court appearances and are still mired in paperwork and need assistance to follow complicated guidelines and regulations.
Chapman University was founded in 1861. It now enrolls about 6,200 students across disciplines. For more information visit www.chapman.edu. For information about the Alona Cortese Elder Law Center go to www.chapman.edu/law/legal-clinics/elder-law.aspx.
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