The Shepard Broad College of Law received a $1million grant from the Taft Foundation to create a legal clinic for low-income adults with intellectual disabilities.
The clinic will open in fall 2016, and will provide legal services for adults with intellectual disabilities and legal problems like access to education, housing, discrimination, health services and autonomy. Funds from the grant, which will sponsor the clinic for four years, will be used to hire staff attorneys for the clinic, who will work with law students to provide legal assistance.
Jon Garon, dean and professor of the Shepard Broad College of Law, said that students will participate as full-time certified legal interns at the clinic.
“The clinic will meet a significant legal need in the community,” he said. “Students will have the ability to participate in a robust legal environment, and the grant will enhance and grow our clinical program.”
Garon said that direct client service is essential to the education of law students and that clinics are at the foundation of legal education.
“This clinic is a combination of a very important learning opportunity for our students and an impact on the quality of life of our clients,” he said. “It enables NSU to be a more vibrant partner in improving the quality of life in South Florida.”
Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson, vice president for Advancement and Community Relations, said that the clinic will demonstrate NSU’s commitment to developing students and professionals.
“We want to develop students who are dedicated to serving the community in their profession,” she said. “Our students volunteer 2,300 hours a year. Service is one of our core values, and this integrates service with the profession.”
Through the grant, NSU will partner with the Brooklyn Law School, who introduced a similar clinic last spring.
“The grant has a large outreach component, so we’ll be doing a lot of community education, which makes the project very unique,” Garon said.
The grant is renewable, and Garon said he hopes that this will be the beginning of a longstanding partnership. This is the first grant the college has received to support a clinic. The Shepard Broad College of Law also houses clinics focused on dispute resolution, children and families, environmental law and criminal justice.
O’Flannery Anderson said that the new clinic means that a new group of students will have a good understanding of the legal challenges that individuals with special needs face and the resources that are available to them.
“We’ll have a whole new level of appreciation and knowledge in our legal community, and we’ll be providing an immense service to the families,” she said. “A lot of people turn to the courts for help, and that’s daunting.”
Don Taft, a businessman and philanthropist who passed away in 2011, started the Taft Foundation, and O’Flannery Anderson said that the grant fulfills his legacy.
“He loved NSU and was a great friend of President Hanbury,” she said. “He was committed to helping children with special needs. The foundation, through the grant, figured out a wonderful way to help those individuals with legal challenges.”
For more information about law clinics at NSU, visit law.nova.edu.