Faculty/Staff Pro Bono Spotlight – June 21, 2016

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Every week, we honor an exceptional faculty/staff member who is making significant contributions to under-served populations, the public interest community, and/or legal education.

Today, we’re featuring an outstanding faculty member from the Texas Tech University School of Law, dedicated to providing pro bono mediation services.

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Who: Professor Gerry W. Beyer (Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professor of Law)

Where: Partnership with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas in Lubbock, Texas

What: Pro Bono Wills Clinic. Since the incorporation of a formal pro bono program at Texas Tech School of Law in 2014, Professor Beyer has been an integral part of the Pro Bono Wills Clinic.  Over the past two years, approximately 70 law student volunteers have helped draft wills and assist with the execution of advanced directives and powers of attorney for low-income Lubbock-area clients under the supervision of licensed volunteer attorneys.  As part of the program, Professor Beyer has shared his nationally recognized wealth of expertise in estate planning in a condensed one hour “Nuts & Bolts” training for both students and licensed attorneys.  Licensed attorneys are able to earn CLE credit for attending the presentation.  In addition to teaching the crash course, Professor Beyer attends the two-part clinic, providing overall assistance and mentoring to students and practitioners.  He is always standing by to accept a more complex case himself, assisting a needy client and providing valuable mentorship to an eager student.

On his work: “Providing estate planning services to economically-challenged individuals is of vital importance, perhaps even more so than for those in better financial situations.  Participating students gain a genuine appreciation of how an estate plan can reduce and even prevent family squabbles about property distribution and who will serve as guardians for the client’s minor children. The students also learn how other documents clarify who can manage the client’s property and make health care decisions when the client is unable to do so.”

“The volunteer students and their supervising attorneys did a stellar job in drafting and supervising the execution of the clients’ estate planning documents.  In addition, other students partnered with me to handle cases for several legal aid clients who needed probate services. I was extremely impressed with the skill and professionalism of these students sometimes making me wonder whether they were already licensed!”

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