UB-Kennedy Krieger initiative helps meet unique legal needs

From left: Professor Angela Vallario, Maureen van Stone and UB law students Kelly Mccrea, Sarah Bordner, Brittany Strickland, Meghan Meyer, Robert Mitchel, Christopher Stock and Suraj Vyas.

From left: Professor Angela Vallario, Maureen van Stone and UB law students Kelly Mccrea, Sarah Bordner, Brittany Strickland, Meghan Meyer, Robert Mitchel, Christopher Stock and Suraj Vyas.

The University of Baltimore Foundation announced this week that it has awarded a $20,000 Fund for Excellence grant to a new joint initiative of the UB School of Law and the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD).

The program brings together UB law students, volunteer attorneys, Kennedy Krieger students and family members of young adult patients who, due to neurodevelopmental conditions and other disorders of the brain, have unique legal needs.

Professor Angela Vallario, J.D. ’91, who teaches estate and trust law, met with MCDD’s Maureen van Stone to launch the initiative. Vallario recruited several former students who are now practicing law and assigned each attorney two law students.

An April event kicked off the project and featured a presentation by Vallario and Louise Michaux Gonzales, a special-needs attorney with Hylton & Gonzales. Afterward, the pro-bono lawyers, with help from the law students, drew up powers of attorney and/or advance medical directives for several relatives of Kennedy Krieger patients.

Among the pro-bono lawyers was Jennifer Brennan, J.D. ‘15, an elder law attorney with Alisa K. Chernack LLC. Chernack is a 1991 graduate of the UB School of Law.

Brennan helped the stepmother of a Kennedy Krieger patient with a major brain injury. The stepmother spoke only Spanish and didn’t have legal authority to make medical decisions for her stepdaughter. Brennan, who speaks Spanish, worked with two UB law students to create an advance medical directive and a power of attorney for the stepmother.

The pro-bono lawyers and law students will also assist patients’ families with other public-benefits and estate-planning matters, such as wills and special-needs trusts.

A July 1 column in The Daily Record focuses on the UB-Kennedy Krieger initiative.

“I teach all UB Law students trusts and estates,” Vallario said in the column by Joe Surkiewicz. “I’m always thinking of ways to mesh service and education. In my classes, instead of hypotheticals, I bring in live people who get their wills done for free. But it’s hard to find sophisticated clients, and I want UB Law to be in a unique position.”

Kennedy Krieger annually provides clinical services to more than 21,000 patients, about 15 percent of whom are young adults with disabilities, Surkiewicz writes.

For more information, contact Professor Angela Vallario at avallario@ubalt.edu or 410-837-4619.

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