Baylor Law School Will Host Free Clinic on Nov. 11 to Help Veterans Prepare Wills

Nov. 7, 2016

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Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Nov. 7, 2016)— To serve military veterans who are in need of estate planning but cannot afford legal counsel, Baylor Law School will host its annual Veterans Day Wills Clinic to provide free aid to vets and their spouses.

Appointments may be made for Friday, Nov. 11, by calling 254-710-4244 or emailing Veterans_Clinic@baylor.edu. The deadline to make an appointment is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9.

The event will be at Baylor Law School in Sheila & Walter Umphrey Law Center, 1114 S. University Parks Drive in Waco. Students will handle intake and gather information to prepare wills, powers of attorney and directives to physicians. Second- and third-year law students will draft documents with attorney supervision, and wills will be finalized later.

Veterans will be asked to provide the names, addresses and phone numbers of beneficiaries and persons that they want to serve in a primary or alternate decision-making capacity for financial, medical and caregiving decisions.

While the wills clinic is an annual event, Baylor Law School Veterans Clinic also provides free legal advice to veterans and their spouses at monthly clinics at Heart of Texas Veterans One Stop in Waco. Students and faculty work with local lawyers to serve the more than 16,000 veterans in McLennan County, many of whom cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Veterans with separate civil legal issues may contact Veterans Clinic at 254-710-4244 or Veterans_Clinic@baylor.edu. The clinic is at Heart of Texas Veterans One Stop, 2010 La Salle Ave., Waco.

Some instances in which Baylor Law School has assisted veterans include:

  • An Army Gulf War veteran who aided in the capture of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega contacted the Veterans Clinic in 2015 after he moved out of an apartment and the landlord would not return his $500 security deposit, despite the veteran’s being a tenant for seven years. Baylor Law School sent a demand letter to the owners; it was ignored. Law student Javier Cabanillas, supervised by a licensed attorney, sorted through evidence, drafted the petition and filed it with the court. When the owners ignored the suit, the veteran took a default judgment for statutory damages and collected $1,716, more than three times the original deposit.
  • This summer, the Veterans Clinic obtained dismissal of municipal ordinance code violation charges for the surviving spouse of a Korean War veteran in Rosebud, Texas. The fine was more than $4,000 for the woman, a grandmother raising four young grandchildren on less than $2,000 a month. The case was set for trial, and law student Allen Waddell, a combat veteran who has his third-year bar card, assisted in trial strategy, preparation, and drafting of a motion for a directed verdict. The prosecutor dismissed the case on the eve of trial.
  • This summer, clinic volunteers drafted and executed estate planning documents for 15 veterans — three of them World War II veterans — and their spouses. Law students Kate Broussard, Javier Cabanillas and Katie Lacy drafted many of the wills with oversight from Tom Featherston, a Baylor Law School professor; Career Development Director Daniel Hare; and Clinic Director Josh Borderud.
  • Baylor Law School Veterans Clinic is funded primarily by a grant from the Texas Access to Justice Commission. The American Bar Association has found that more than 100 million low- and middle-income Americans — among them 21.8 million veterans — cannot afford legal representation for cases related to basic needs such as shelter, sustenance, safety, health and child custody.

    “The lack of access to lawyers and the courts is a rule-of-law issue of significant concern to lawyers across the country,” said Stephen Rispoli, assistant dean of pro bono programs at Baylor Law School. “We are honored to have the support of the Texas Access to Justice Commission so we can help serve one of the most deserving constituencies in our society.”

    ABOUT BAYLOR LAW SCHOOL

    Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as #4 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #55 in the magazine’s 2017 edition of "America’s Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and #4 in the nation in its most recent "Best Law School Facilities" listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984.

    ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

    Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 D1 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big XII Conference.

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