The work of Sixty Plus, Inc. Elderlaw Clinic students, faculty and staff is being recognized by the Elder Law of Michigan at the 7th Annual Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Awards on August 21, 2015. The awards honor those that share the mission of ELM, which is to advocate for, educate, and assist many different people, with a continued focus on older adults and persons with disabilities. In the words of Ron Tatro, vice president of ELM, “The Call to Justice Awards give us the opportunity to recognize the people and organizations that are making a real and tangible difference in the lives of seniors every day.”
Sixty Plus History: In 1978, Fred Baker and the Young Lawyers Division of the Michigan Bar Association obtained funds from the Older Americans Act to establish a student-staffed legal clinic for people 60 and over. What the team lacked in resources, they made up for in enthusiasm and wits. The original 13 students, called the “Baker’s Dozen,” worked without any academic credit as volunteers. Under the inspired leadership of faculty directors Dorean Koenig, Kent Hull, Nora Pasman-Green, Ann Miller Wood, Jim Peden, Marjorie Russell, Norm Fell and Kim O’Leary, WMU-Cooley Law School now houses the clinic in a state-of-the-art law office suite, where students use cloud-based technology to learn modern law practice systems.
Sixty Plus Today: “Sixty Plus is a vibrant clinic serving people in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties and has helped thousands of residents over the decades,” declared O’Leary. Working with community partners such as Elder Law of Michigan, Legal Aid of South Central Michigan, and Tri-County Office on Aging, Sixty Plus has helped create mechanisms for protecting the independence, resources and well-being of senior citizens in the region.”
Elder Law keeps growing as a critical and necessary area of need for lawyers and leaders with a legal background.
- “It was like a switch clicked and all of a sudden you know what you’re doing.”
- “They actually valued my opinions and my ideas…I realized I can do it”
- “I’ve learned how to work with people in a professional setting”
- “I can interact with a client”
- “I can be creative, think outside the box”
- “After communication, the client who felt lost felt relief and appreciated what I had done for them”
- “I loved bouncing ideas back and forth”
- “This experience led me to my passion”