2/26/13: Law students vital part of adult guardianship program
Release Date: 2/26/2013
Pictured above: Program coordinator and Associate Probate Judge Lenna Kirchner, Probate Judge Irvin Condon and Tamara Starnes, special services coordinator, forensics for the Charleston Mental Health Center.
When the Charleston County Probate Court became one of only two courts in the nation to receive a grant from the ABA in 2011 to train volunteers to visit incapacitated adults under guardianship, partnership with the Charleston School of Law was a perfect fit.
“Ensuring that adults under guardianship are receiving proper care and that the guardians who care for them get the assistance they need is the most pressing issue facing probate courts today,” said Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon. The court works with the School of Law’s pro bono program to train students taking elder law or who volunteer for pro bono credit. A federal grant administered by South Carolina Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging helps support the program.
Since the fall of 2011, more than 120 Charleston School of Law students have served as court visitors. Working in pairs, each student is assigned one guardianship case each semester. The students visit the incapacitated adults and their guardians and file a written report with the court. The court takes action on cases as needed.
Students interested in estate and elder law gain invaluable practical experience while the court and those it serves get much needed help. The Charleston County Probate Court has about 500 adult guardianship cases at any time. The program is now permanent at the Charleston County Probate Court and has become a model for other probate courts in South Carolina and nationwide.
For more information about this program contact Director of Public Service and Pro Bono Michelle M. Condon.