(PRWEB) April 12, 2014
Melinda Tsang, a third-year student at The John Marshall Law School, has assisted needy clients of Chicago’s Center for Disability & Elder Law (CDEL) this semester thanks to the generosity of AT&T.
Tsang, who has focused on Elder Law while in law school, said being selected the AT&T Pro Bono in Excellence Scholarship recipient helped her decide to continue working at CDEL. She had completed an externship and volunteered there for two semesters.
“I am so appreciative to have been selected for this honor,” Tsang said. “I enjoyed my time with the agency, and I learned so much that I was happy to get the opportunity to continue my pro bono efforts.”
Tsang was selected by the AT&T Midwest Region Pro Bono Committee for the $2,500 award that was applied to her law school tuition. The award is meant to foster “a lasting commitment to pro bono service in the student’s future professional practice,” said John J. Reidy III, co-chair of the Pro Bono Committee.
Thomas C. Wendt, chief legal officer at CDEL, said Tsang has worked on a number of important cases for CDEL, and her past semesters of work made her an important member of the team.
After graduating from Bryn Mawr College and working as a paralegal, Tsang moved to Chicago for law school. She didn’t have a legal specialty in mind, but recognized Elder Law is an up-and-coming area of law, and after her time at CDEL, she found she enjoyed working with the clientele.
“Elder Law is much more than just preparing wills and trusts,” Tsang explained. “While there is a big shift among the elderly for advanced planning so that they can avoid legal problems as they age, the people I was assisting were dealing with debt collectors, landlords and other immediate issues. People facing those types of problems are really panicked thinking they’ll lose what little they have in resources and property.”
John Marshall offers J.D. students a certificate in Elder Law. The program is one of the first in the nation specially designed to give attorneys knowledge of the intersection of elder rights and the law, including health care planning, financial planning and protections, conservatorship and guardianship and elder advocacy. Legal expertise gleaned through Elder Law courses and CDEL has allowed Tsang to explain complicated paperwork and offer clients advice on next steps.
“These clients are the ones who most need legal representation, but they don’t have the money to hire an attorney to help them,” she said. “They are so thankful when the Center’s staff is able to assure them that they won’t be going to jail or losing their possessions.”
For more information about programs, faculty or students at The John Marshall Law School, please contact Christine Kraly at 312-427-2737 ext. 171, or ckraly(at)jmls(dot)edu.