Elder Law Clinic provides students with the opportunity to listen, empathize with clients
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Office of Communications and Public Relations
January 10, 2018
Clients come to the Wake Forest School of Law Elder Law Clinic with both legal issues and emotional needs. One client is worried about her grown child who needs more help than his siblings. Other clients come with spouses who are becoming frail or forgetful. They are overwhelmed by complicated health care systems and by drastic changes in family dynamics. Many are challenged by their lack of financial resources, though they are rich in community, religious, and family support.
Opening up and listening to clients isn’t a skill we teach in traditional doctrinal classes, where fundamental legal principles are the focus. In this clinic, students get to practice listening and empathizing. They learn to integrate these “people skills” with the traditional tools of lawyering — such as gathering the facts, researching the law and drafting documents. Students find they do better and more satisfying work when they are open to hearing their clients’ goals and concerns.
The unpredictability and human side of law practice challenges and teaches us. Here are a few of our cases and our students’ reflections on their experiences. Some stories are changed for confidentiality reasons.