Early this month, Gonzaga Law hosted a group of 36 attorneys, 15 notaries, 47 law students, and 2 members of the general public all working to help provide Spokane-area veterans with free estate planning services. 149 veterans were served throughout the day of the second annual clinic.
Providing Free Services
This Clinic, held October 12 at Gonzaga Law, was the second annual Washington Veterans Will Clinic to be held in Spokane. A 2009 survey by Harris Interactive found that 65 percent of Americans lack even the most basic estate planning documents. At a base cost starting at $500-$1,000, these important legal directives have been out of reach for many people.
“I think one of the most valuable aspects of the Clinic, and why it works well, is the extraordinary partnerships,” explained Catherine Brown, director of the Center for Law in Public Service. “The Vets Will Clinic was formed and continues through a partnership with the Spokane County Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division, Gonzaga Law School, Army OneSource, Red Cross – Inland Northwest Region, Vet Center and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Making an Impact With Veterans
In an email sent to Brennan, one veteran participant described their experience at the clinic this way:
“My wife and I wish to sincerely thank you for spending the time helping vets with their wills and final decisions. Particularly, thank you for spending the better part of an hour assisting us. We have postponed writing our wills and you have jump-started the process for us. You have also demonstrated care for the military and our duty to country that, quite frankly, is very inspiring to us. I am glad that I share this same community with you! AGAIN, THANKS!”
Involving Students In Service
Through the Center for Law In Public Service, 47 law students volunteered throughout the day at the Clinic. Thomas Darmofal a second-year student who volunteered both last year and this year, highlighted that “Having the opportunity to plan and partake in the WA Veterans Will Clinic both this year and the last provided a great opportunity to not only practically apply my legal education, but also, to work with local attorneys and clients.”
Tim Schermetzler, another second-year student volunteer, highlighted the impact he saw in the clinic. “It appeared many Vets where apprehensive when they came to the clinic, but as I saw the vets leave after their sessions, they left holding hands with their spouses, smiling and thanking volunteers. It was apparent that the services we provided had both legal and emotional benefits for the clients.”
Planning Further Clinics
After the success of last year and this year’s clinics in Spokane, an additional Vets Will Clinic was held in Wenatchee on Saturday, October 26. Plans are already in progress to hold additional clinics. More information can be found at WaVetsWillClinic.com