Austin Bar Foundation
2018 NCBF/LexisNexis Partnership For Success Awardee
A Shining Example
The CANLAW Clinic provides free estate-planning services to cancer survivors and their caregivers.
Through a one-stop-shop clinic, a will, medical power of attorney, statutory durable power of attorney, advanced directive, and HIPAA release are provided during the clinic hours. All necessary documents are brought to the clinic on a flash drive and are shared with the attorney volunteers who work with the cancer patient clients. The purpose is to serve the cancer community by providing professional skills to assist clients who are going through an already difficult time. The mission is to minimize the many barriers, including financial, time, and emotional, that keep cancer patients from planning for the future.
Initiated by two Austin Bar members who are themselves young adult cancer survivors, the first clinic was held in April 2017. Two others followed in September 2017 and March 2018. Comprehensive estate-planning packages have been provided to over 40 clients, many of whom are terminal, including ten young adult cancer clients.
helps members of the cancer community understand the importance of proper estate planning.
Not only does it educate this community, but it also solves a real, tangible need. Without this service, many clients would seek the guidance of cookie-cutter online forms or books that fail to provide the valuable guidance of an attorney who practices in this area.
Through CANLAW, cancer patients receive the personalized touch of an experienced estate-planning attorney to help anticipate problems before they arise. This personal experience can help them avoid costly or emotional mistakes that make getting the care they need more difficult.
The CANLAW Clinic was given a start-up grant of $500 by the Austin Lawyers Auxiliary. The Austin Bar Foundation provides the rest of the funding for the clinics.
CANLAW enjoys broad support from the legal community,
including the Austin Bar Association and the Austin Bar Foundation, as well as the rank and file of local attorneys.
Over 65 attorneys have participated in the clinics. The Capital Area Paralegals Association (CAPA) also strongly supports CANLAW. CAPA has been instrumental in streamlining the clinic's documents and processes. They also comprise the bulk of the nearly 30 non-attorney volunteers upon which the project draws.
CANLAW has been promoted through partners in the cancer community including Breast Cancer Resource Center, Texas Oncology, American Cancer Society, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Digital and social media were used to spread awareness about the clinics. Print ads have appeared in local Community Impact newspapers. The legal community, including the paralegal community, was reached through the Austin Bar website and social media posts as well as articles and information in Austin Lawyer magazine, and Bar Code, the Austin Bar's weekly enewsletter. The Texas Bar Blog covered the launch of the clinics and Austin's NBC affiliate did a story on the first clinic.
In searching for a project to replicate, the CANLAW organizers found none like it in the country.
Those that were found required multiple appointments to complete the documents. Already tired and overwhelmed by appointments, most, if not all, potential clients drop out prior to the completion of the documents. CANLAW's one-stope-shop format makes it easier for both clients and attorney volunteers to complete the estate-planning packages.
This project was begun in hopes that it would be replicated. Local bar associations could easily follow this model, provided they find the space to host the clinics. Access to laptops and at least one printer is necessary. Costs could be lowered by securing donated food.