UW College of Law Estate Planning Practicum (EPP) enhances professionalism in and access to Wyoming’s legal system.
Working with real clients with real problems allows law students to begin the lifelong process of becoming thoughtful, responsible, and reflective lawyers. Practicum students gain critical skills in communication, information gathering, and legal and factual analysis that prepare them to address the complex needs their clients will present. Students gain legal experience while, at the same time, learning how to professionally and ethically represent a client. Students learn to find the right combination of zealous and compassionate advocacy. Students are challenged to consider how the practice of law may be reformed and to embrace the professional responsibility of assisting those who may otherwise be financially prohibited from accessing the legal system.
What are the goals of the Estate Planning Practicum?
The EPP helps to address unmet estate planning and needs of Wyoming’s low-income population. Law students enrolled in EPP bridge the gap that exists in our state by providing estate planning to people whose income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and probate cases where the estate has a net value not exceeding $200,000.
What types of cases are handled in the Practicum?
The EPP helps clients maximize control over their end-of life decisions, plan for incapacity, and declare their wishes for the distribution of assets after death. To achieve this goal, Student Interns draft Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directives (Living Wills). Additionallly, student interns provide general estate planning and probate advice including: assisting in simple probate proceedings, drafting Affidavits of Distribution of Personal Property, Trusts, Guardianships/Conservatorships, and Transfer on Death Deeds.
What can the Student Intern in the Practicum do?
Law students enrolled in the College of Law’s Estate Planning Practicum do all of the work for their clients, including interviewing, counseling, and research. Students draft legal documents and correspondence, maintain contact with clients, and participate in weekly case status reviews of their cases. In addition, students receive training on how to most effectively engage and serve low-income people. The EPP offers second and third-year law students education and experience lawyering by allowing students to form lawyer-client relationships directly with clients, to exercise legal judgment, and perform legal services for those clients pro bono.
With close support and supervision of experienced and well-trained faculty, law students address the complex legal, social, emotional, ethical, and public policy questions involved in the practice of law.
Is there a classroom component?
The EPP students meet together 2 hours per week. In addition, there will be scheduled trips to other cities or towns in Wyoming to give presentations and assist clients with their estate planning needs. When we do so, classes scheduled throughout the semester may be adjusted accordingly.