By: GE Aviation Law Clerk, Elizabeth Schuler
My first client interaction involved the creation of Wills and Trusts documents at the Aviation Legal Operation (AOL) Volunteer Wills Clinic. As a rising 2L at University of Dayton School of Law, I never thought my sparse legal knowledge could contribute to the creation of such critical documents. But, when GE Aviation lawyers partnered with the Cincinnati Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) to host a Wills Clinic for VLP clients, the lawyers encouraged law clerks to volunteer their services, teaming to serve a client in need. Through the guidance and monitoring of supervisory lawyers, we worked together to call our clients with preparatory questions, draft documents according to our client’s wishes, and meet our clients in person at the Clinic. My experience at the Clinic gave me a new perspective as to how important and personal legal services can be to clients, and as a result I have a new sense of pride in entering the field of law.
This is the fifth Wills Clinic that the GE Aviation Legal Operation has sponsored with VLP, and is only possible with the support of Bonnie Camden at Dinsmore, who serves as our estate expert, generously spending her time reviewing our documents, answering questions and being available during the Clinic as a resource. This year, Bonnie was also joined by her colleague, Jill Scherff, and both were tremendously helpful in ensuring each client received an estate plan tailored to his or her situation.
The Clinic took place at the Community Action Agency in Bond Hill. The first client of the day arrived an hour and a half before her scheduled appointment. When I signed her in, I explained that the attorneys wouldn’t arrive until the scheduled time. She grinned as she reasoned that she didn’t want to miss her appointment, and that while she was excessively early, it was worth the wait. She explained that she planned her transportation to the Wills Clinic a week prior. Other clients followed suit, arriving early for their appointments, with their personal materials in hand. For these clients, it was a tough reality that they could not othenvise afford an estate plan. Additionally, many clients struggled with health, poverty or other family issues. Our participation allowed these clients to obtain a peace of mind about the future of their estates and families. A total of seventeen clients, the most to ever appear at a VLP Wills Clinic, came to receive our services.
Even more inspirational than the clients’ enthusiasm was the lawyers’ dedication and utter joy in participating in the Clinic. Each attorney took significant time out of his or her busy daily schedule to meet with these clients over the phone and tailor the legal documents to the clients’ wishes. Not all of the attorneys were specialized in Wills and Trusts, but all were willing to put in the work necessary to ensure the documents were perfect. The attorneys inspired me as they proved the importance of their role in the personal lives of these clients in need.
The Clinic was a tremendously positive first experience in that I realized the true importance of our services as attorneys. lowe a debt of gratitude and thanks to the GE Aviation attorneys that made my experience so positive: Bridget McGraw, Steve Friskney, Patrick Alberts, Allison Herriott, Laura Warren, Andrew Marovich, Cindy Brockman, Stacy Blomeke, Greg Young, Phil Smith, Mike Bishop, Jennifer Shea, and Doug Hensley. The GE Aviation law clerks who also participated were Brittany Armour (XU), Kris Missall (OSU), Alex Czanik (UC), CliffLauchlan (UC), Jack Hemenway (Dayton), Kathryn Bross (UC), Daya Patibandla (UC), Kara Harp (NKU), and Drew Skjoldal (NKU). Thanks also to Bonnie and Jill, as well as Ginny Whitman, Managing Attorney of the VLP, who was instrumental in planning and executing the Clinic, and whose partnership with GE Aviation allows us to do this great work in the community.