Free Legal Aid Clinic benefits from event at home of co-founder

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– Photos by John Meiu

The Free Legal Aid Clinic held its Annual Spring Fund-raiser last month at the home of Wayne State Law alum Ron Helveston, one of the co-founders of FLAC.

The Free Legal Aid Clinic is a student-run, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, legal aid organization established by Wayne Law students in 1965.

“For more than 50 years, we have provided Wayne County's elderly and indigent populations with quality legal representation. In this time, the organization also has provided countless Wayne Law students with a unique learning experience,” said a spokesman for Wayne Law. “At the Free Legal Aid Clinic, student attorneys are given their own cases and clients. While students work under the supervision of experienced legal aid attorneys from Lakeshore Legal Aid and the Elder Law and Advocacy Center, students are responsible for both their clients and cases.”

Student attorneys get the opportunity to represent their clients in court under the Michigan student practice rule. Students have had the opportunity to argue motions, present settlement agreements and first chair full bench trials, gaining valuable litigation skills.

“Students are assigned to handle cases in both elder and family law,” the spokesman said. “Elder law cases cover a wide range of issues from estate planning to landlord/tenant disputes. When handling family law cases our students assist indigent clients with divorces, custody matters and other issues. Oftentimes, clients are survivors of domestic violence. As one Wayne County family law judge said, operating in this field means we see ‘the best people at their worst,’ but we have a unique opportunity to change their lives with the work that we do.”

Benjamin King, a recent Wayne Law grad, served as chair of the FLAC during the 2016-17 school year, and found the experience particularly gratifying.

“I have so much respect and admiration for attorneys that work in legal services,” he says. “I’ve also found they are kind and caring people – I think folks like that make excellent co-workers and colleagues.”