The Lesson of the Irish Family Pub: The Elder Clinic Path to a More Thoughtful Practice

01 Jan 2010

In this article, the Director of the Elder Law Clinic at Pennsylvania State University provides insight into the development of Elder Law as a unique discipline by tracking the history and challenges faced by her program as it approaches ten years of operation. A core focus of the Elder Law clinic, beyond practical experience, is to expose its students to the ethical issues confronted in Elder Law practice. Students in the clinic combine classroom discussions with practical experience representing clients, thereby becoming better prepared for their professional futures, while also gaining appreciation for the special concerns of the elderly client. To demonstrate a particular issue of concern, the Author recounts the story of one Irish family's struggle following the death of their father to nullify an unfavorable real-estate transaction prepared by an attorney insensitive to the needs of his elderly client. The history of this case illustrates a recurring theme in Elder Law -- the necessity of identifying the unique concerns of older clients and responding to their needs in the face of competing influences, such as the desires of the clients' family members.