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    10.14.14 Brooklyn Law School Announces $1 Million Grant for Innovative Legal Clinic Serving Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    Professor Natalie Chin

    October 14, 2014 – Brooklyn Law School (“BLS”) announced a new innovative clinical program addressing the legal needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities – a vastly underserved population – and their families. The Advocates for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities [AAIDD] Clinic was established with a $1 million grant from The Taft Foundation. This donation is the largest major grant to any educational institution in support of such a program, and the first major private grant to BLS to support a clinic.

    The AAIDD Clinic will begin providing a spectrum of much-needed legal services to clients beginning in the spring 2015 semester. The focus will include direct representation of individuals and their families; community education; policy and public advocacy initiatives; exploration of ethical responsibilities encountered during the representation of individuals of varying degrees of ability; and the development of lawyering skills in general. The Clinic will coordinate some of its work with the Law School’s 33 other clinical programs and work closely with the Center for Health, Science and Public Policy to leverage advocacy initiatives to maximize public awareness of important issues facing adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

    The new AAIDD Clinic will be directed by Natalie M. Chin, who joined the BLS clinical faculty last month. Most recently, Professor Chin was a Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Guardianship Clinic at Cardozo Law School. She previously worked at Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, MFY Legal Services, and the NYC Law Department. Before attending law school at The George Washington University, she was a journalist in California and South Africa.

    “The Taft Foundation is honored to support this exciting and innovative approach to supporting individuals with IDD. Advocates are particularly important given the numerous and rapid changes occurring in the field today as it relates to funding and program support models. We are confident that BLS students will help ensure that individuals with IDD get the services they need,” said Howard Rothman ’71, Chairman and President of The Taft Foundation.

    The creation of this clinic comes at an especially critical time with a growing population of adults with particular needs.

    Through the AAIDD Clinic, Brooklyn Law School students will address pressing legal issues by providing direct legal representation in securing government benefits and services, health and financial planning, and the protection of due process rights in areas that include access to housing, employment and education. The Clinic also will undertake policy initiatives and provide advice, and it will include an educational component that involves disseminating information to individuals and institutions about the legal environment that service providers must navigate.

    “The AAIDD Clinic serves two vital purposes,” said Professor Stacy Caplow, Associate Dean for Professional Legal Education, who leads the Clinical Education Program. “First, under Natalie Chin’s leadership it will provide essential, legal assistance for an historically underserved population. Second, it offers an unparalleled laboratory for our students to develop their professional identities. The Clinic will expose them to several types of law practice requiring a range of skills, including litigation, planning and drafting, and mediation. Our mission is to instill the skills and values required to be effective lawyers, and to inspire many students to work on behalf of clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities during their careers.”