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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