Students provide legal advice and representation to individuals aged 60 and over on civil matters such as health care; medicare, medicaid and other public benefits; protection from abuse, neglect, and exploitation; advance directives and durable powers of attorney; will drafting; consumer fraud; and a broad array of other legal needs. For the first half day of registration, enrollment is limited to third-year students or those with at least 54 credit hours. After that, second-year students may also enroll.
ELDER LAW CLINIC
2Ls and 3Ls, but preference in registration is given to 3rd year students.
The clinic is offered for 6 credits and is a one-semester clinic.
Seminar: 1½ hour TBA
Case Rounds: 1½ hour TBA
The Elder Law Clinic is one of the oldest and most well-established of the Law School’s clinical programs, operating continuously for more than 30 years. The Elder Law Clinic is also known as Legal Counsel for the Elderly and has a reputation in the community as a provider of both legal representation as well as public education and information about legal issues of concern to older adults.
The Elder Law Clinic provides high quality legal advice and representation while also providing a closely-supervised and professionally challenging clinical experience for second- and third-year law students. The Clinic staff consists of Allyson Gold (director), Ora Brown Lavender (paralegal), and Diane Simpson (administrative assistant). Through the combined efforts of the staff and students, the Elder Law Clinic usually handles several hundred cases per year.
Highlights of Elder Clinic Activities
The Elder Law Clinic measures its accomplishments not only in terms of case outcomes and disputes resolved but also in terms of the peace of mind and reassurance that our clients receive from placing their affairs in proper order. In that regard, the Clinic commonly assists clients in drafting planning documents such as durable powers of attorney, advance health care directives, and wills. These documents ensure that clients maintain control over their affairs and health care decisions regardless of what events may occur. Some of the Clinic’s accomplishments in recent years have included the return of more than $200,000 in client funds invested in so-called “Medicaid annuities,” the recovery of thousands of dollars of client funds from children or fiduciaries who refused to return those funds, the successful termination of guardianships in which the incapacitated person had recovered to a state of independence, successful appeals of adverse Medicaid decisions, the recovery of damages from contractors for negligently completed or uncompleted home repairs, and the recovery at trial of a client’s real property which was accidentally conveyed to the wrong person.
Who Does the Elder Clinic Represent?
The Elder Law Clinic receives Title III funding under the Older Americans Act through the local Area Agency on Aging to provide free legal assistance to residents sixty years of age and older in the seven West Alabama counties of Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Pickens, and Tuscaloosa. The Clinic provides assistance with most non-criminal legal matters.
What Type of Work Will I Do in the Elder Clinic?
Students in the Clinic provide free legal advice and representation concerning all aspects of a wide variety of civil legal matters. In addition to the largely transactional work of drafting planning documents, the Clinic commonly represents clients in consumer fraud cases, Medicaid disputes, credit reporting and collection cases, and many other types of civil disputes. Clinic students have legal and ethical responsibility for their cases. Once assigned, the case is the responsibility of the student, but all students practice under the supervising attorney’s law license, meet on a regular basis with the supervisor to discuss the case, and are supervised at hearings by the Clinic attorneys. Third-year students who have registered as a law student with the Alabama State Bar can obtain a student practice card and may directly represent clients at trial or administrative hearings under the supervision of the Clinic director.
Clinic students will get significant experience in drafting wills, powers of attorney, trusts and other planning documents. In addition, clinic students actively participate in negotiating settlements, providing formal legal advice and counsel, conducting factual investigation of their cases and conducting legal research concerning the issues raised.
What are the Elder Clinic Credits and Workload?
The Elder Clinic is a one-semester, 6-credit course and is open to both 2nd and 3rd year law students (with a preference in registration given to 3rd year students). Third-year students must be registered as a law student with the Alabama State Bar WELL IN ADVANCE OF THE BEGINNING OF THE SEMESTER in order to receive the necessary student practice card. Students without a practice card may take the Clinic, but will not be able to appear in court or provide legal advice directly to their clients. Students are expected to spend an average of 14 hours per week on Clinic classes and casework. The classes include a weekly seminar in which students learn the substantive and procedural laws related to elder client representation and discuss the practice skills and professional responsibility issues relevant to their cases. In addition, students meet once a week for a case staffing conference, at which time students discuss new requests for assistance and decide which cases to accept and what services to provide. Finally, students meet with the director once a week for direct case supervision, at which time students present their plan for the development of their cases and discuss how cases are progressing.
About Allyson E. Gold
Allyson E. Gold is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Instruction and the Director of the Elder Law Clinic. Professor Gold graduated with High Distinction from the University of Virginia. After working for nearly two years to help low-income tenants in Washington, DC exercise their legal rights, Professor Gold began studying law. She received her J.D., with Honors, from Emory University School of Law. During law school, she worked at the Health Law Partnership, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, and the Legal Aid Society. In recognition of her dedication to serving the public interest, Professor Gold was awarded the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty John J. Curtin Justice Fund Award. Prior to joining the University of Alabama, Professor Gold was the Curt Rodin Visiting Clinical Professor of Law and Supervising Attorney in the Health Justice Project, a medical-legal partnership clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. As an Association of American Law Schools Bellow Scholar, she is researching the effect of legal intervention on client health outcomes. Her scholarship analyzes the relationship between property law and health equity.