Blank Rome Takes Legal Clinic on the RoadPhiladelphia Bar Reporter (Vol. 44, No. 10) Article
At Blank Rome LLP, one of our signature pro bono projects is a partnership with the Legal Clinic for the Disabled (LCD) to host advance planning clinics at Inglis House (Inglis), a specialty nursing care facility for adults with severe physical disabilities. These clinics provide us with a unique opportunity to use our skills to help those in need while challenging us to grow as counselors and advocates.
Due to their limited mobility, the clients at Inglis are unable to travel to our office, so we work with LCD to bring the clinic to them. A team of attorneys brings laptops and printers to Inglis, where they draft wills, living wills and powers of attorney for residents. The most challenging and rewarding part of this work is bridging the communication gap with our Inglis clients. Many of the them have significant disabilities that make verbal communication difficult, and require us to learn new ways to communicate effectively. We have served clients who use assistive devices to speak, and others who use hand or head gestures to indicate their wishes. One particularly memorable client used a prerecorded message to introduce himself and to explain his method of communication. His message instructed us how to ask questions so that he could properly respond. Through the recorded message, we also learned about his background as a proud Philadelphian and Vietnam veteran. Using these tools, we are able to see the person, not just the disability.
While there is undoubtedly a benefit to the clients we assist through this clinic, the work is also equally meaningful and important to our volunteers. The opportunity to bring legal services directly to people who need them is a truly rewarding experience. It also presents an opportunity to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Our work provides a sense of security and independence to our clients, and we leave the clinic feeling satisfied and grateful for the opportunity to help. Through this project, we are able to ensure that these clients have the ability to make choices that will impact their health care and finances for years to come. It can be very difficult for adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living to retain their independence, so it is incredibly gratifying that we are able to help them in this way.
We feel very fortunate to work with LCD to further their mission of ensuring access to legal services for low-income people with disabilities.
If you are interested in learning more about pro bono opportunities through the LCD, please contact Esther Miller, managing attorney, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-587-3357.
"Blank Rome Takes Legal Clinic on the Road," by Kathy E. Ochroch and Krystal Kane was published in the October 2015 edition of the Philadelphia Bar Reporter (Vol. 44, No. 10). To view the article online, please click here.