4.16.2009

Law Students In Civil Litigation Clinic Represent Disenfranchised

Regent Law students participating in Regent’s Civil Litigation Clinic handle real client cases under the direction of a Regent Law professor - and they make a lasting difference.

A recent Civil Litigation Clinic client, referred by a local Legal Aid office, was seeking legal assistance after being denied food stamp benefits from the local Department of Human Services. DHS had determined that this client was ineligible for food stamp benefits because, according to their designation, she was an “able-bodied” adult capable of working the minimum 20 hours needed to satisfy the work requirement of the Virginia Food Stamp Manual. Yet in reality the client was unable to find and retain lasting employment as a direct result of severe impairments.

Under the supervision of Professor Kathleen McKee, third year law student Ben Willis took on her cause. After researching the relevant law, Willis discovered that while the client may not have fit into the DHS definition of “disabled,” she had been diagnosed with severe impairments. She was not, in fact, “able-bodied,” and therefore not subject to the minimum work requirement.

On March 31, 2009, Willis successfully represented the client at a hearing. DHS reinstated full benefits, a result that could have a significant impact on the manner in which the Virginia Food Stamp Manual is applied in the future.