Students in the Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors Clinic (MLPS) provide holistic wrap-around legal representation to clients in a range of matters, including advance planning (powers of attorney), estate planning, housing, advocacy around state and federal income and health benefits, and Probate Court conservatorship. Many clients come to MLPS with multiple, overlapping legal issues.
Students take primary authority over their cases from start to finish. Students usually represent at least 4-6 clients, which includes meeting with their clients multiple times, often in client homes and at their medical clinics. The MLPS client population is very diverse in terms of background and legal issues which makes for a very rich learning experience for MLPS students.
Students gain a range of practical, foundational legal skills in MLPS which are transferable to any type of future client-based legal work, in any field. Students learn transactional legal skills through the drafting of advance and estate planning documents. Students also learn to advocate for their clients with state and federal agencies, landlords, and in Probate Court. In addition, students develop critical skills in interviewing, counseling, problem solving, document drafting, oral presentation, and project management of their complex caseload. Through collaboration with medical providers on their cases, students gain interdisciplinary experience and a deeper understanding of the intersection between law and health. Students also gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of aging and retirement, the implications of an aging population for society, and how students can start planning now to provide for their parents, families, and themselves in the future.
Students receive customized feedback and support throughout the semester in a team-like environment.
Students meet in a classroom setting twice per week. Topics include health care and financial-decision making; overview of income sources and benefits; small estate planning; will drafting; evaluating mental capacity; long-term care options; elder financial abuse; and the health effects of poverty. The second classroom session is a shorter class primarily dedicated to case rounds, where students present their cases to the rest of the MLPS team to problem-solve together, discuss complex issues, and reinforce areas of substantive learning. At the beginning of each semester, students participate in a full-day orientation training which includes an aging simulation session co-led by partnering medical providers.
The clinic partners with UCSF and the San Francisco VA Medical Center to provide advance health care, estate planning, public benefits, and wrap-around legal services to older adult patients. Students work an average of 12-15 hours per week. During fieldwork hours, students interview and counsel their clients over the course of multiple meetings, research factual and legal issues, consult with the supervising professor and other mentor attorneys, manage multiple client cases, draft memos, write letters, execute legal documents, and perform all administrative functions necessary for client-based practice. Towards the end of the semester, student teams craft and deliver a presentation to medical providers and/or older adult consumers.