NSU’s Shepard Broad College of Law received a $1 million grant from The Taft Foundation to establish an innovative clinical program to address the legal needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (AIDD) and their families.
The NSU AIDD Law Clinic will be launched in the fall of 2016 and will begin enrolling third-year students to staff it by January 2017.
“Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have a myriad of legal issues that can impede their independence and infringe on their individual rights,”
said Jon Garon, J.D., dean of NSU’s Shepard Broad College of Law. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to serve this vastly underserved population by partnering with The Taft Foundation to provide pro bono legal services.”
While the particular fields of representation will vary depending on client needs, the most likely focus areas will be public benefits, housing, and educational rights. NSU’s College of Law will be working closely with the Brooklyn Law School which introduced a similar clinic last spring, also funded by a grant from The Taft Foundation.
In addition, the AIDD clinic will provide community outreach through workshops, events, and community training to educate and encourage these adults, their families, service providers, and the general public regarding issues facing the affected population.
Prior to his passing in February, 2011, Don Taft was a business leader, philanthropist and a strong supporter of the South Florida community. In 2009, he combined his passion for athletics, helping special needs youth and NSU when he made a generous gift to the university and the Don Taft University Center was named in his honor, becoming the permanent home of the Special Olympics Broward County.
“This $1 million grant will enable NSU, through the Shepard Broad College of Law, to continue reaching out to South Florida’s special needs community to improve their day-to-day adult lives,” said NSU President Dr. George L. Hanbury. “Since serving the community is one NSU’s core values, we welcome this opportunity to further strengthen our commitment to this key group of deserving people.”
The $1 million grant will be distributed in $250,000 increments over four years.
Garon added, “The clinic will offer our students the opportunity to realize their potential by exposing them to a wide range of skills, including litigation, planning and drafting, and mediation. It’s an unparalleled laboratory for them to develop their professional identities. We hope it will inspire many students to work on behalf of clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their legal careers.”
The AIDD clinic expands the clinical legal education provided to NSU Law students and service to the Broward County underprivileged community. NSU Law also offers ten additional in-house and field-placement based clinical programs. In addition to opportunities for law students, the NSU Law clinic recently added a Legal Incubator program which partners with newly admitted lawyers to expand their professional training while expanding pro bono legal services to the community.