Learn about the Elder Law Clinic

by Bridget Claycomb, Class of 2016

William and Mary Law School has a history of public service and encourages all its students to become citizen lawyers, and Michael Hernton, Class of 2014, personifies this aim through his devotion to service. Admissions was lucky enough to sit down with him and hear about his experience with the William and Mary Elder Law Clinic.

herntonMichael attended the US Naval Academy and studied Political Science and Engineering and also earned an MBA from University of California San Diego. He shared a number of personal stories about himself, his friends, and family that inspired him to get the legal knowledge that would allow him to help those closest to him.

Michael said he chose William and Mary because, “I wanted to stay in Virginia, and I liked William and Mary’s campus. The alumni I connected with spoke highly of the professors and said that students were helpful to each other.” He also said that William and Mary offered a great legal education at a competitive price.

When asked why he chose to take the Elder Law Clinic, Michael responded with questions, “Who do you want to work with? Who do you want to be around? Who do you want to help?”  He answered for himself that he wanted to help good people who could really benefit from his legal advice. From the way he shared his clients’ stories, it was clear that has a lot of passion for helping the people who seek-out the Elder Law Clinic.

The Elder Law Clinic provides valuable services to seniors from Williamsburg, Newport News, and Hampton Roads. For example, students from the clinic joined attorneys from Hampton Roads for the “Wills for Seniors” program. Michael shared that while he knows he is helping his clients, the clinic has taught him more than just elder law. “We met a 103 year old black woman who was born in a time where she was a 4th class citizen and unable to vote. We helped her with her will in 2013. That’s how much life experience our clients have. I have learned a lot from them.”

Michael highly recommends taking advantage of the clinic opportunities at William and Mary. “A lot of law school is theory, and you have to seek-out ways to gain practical experience. You don’t have to wait for summer internships or drive to externships. Clinics provide real-world experience right here at the law school.”

For more on the Elder Law Clinic, click here.

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