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Savannah Chinski came to law school to pursue a career in disability law, an interest inspired by her nephew who is hard of hearing. When her father suffered a stroke while she was attending law school, the complex issues of elder law unfolded before her.
“I realized how overwhelming this field of law can be for a person,” she said.
Under the recommendation of the Elder Law Pro Bono Project director, she dedicated her second year of law school to taking Elder Law classes, such as financial planning for the elderly, estate planning, and more. After enjoying these classes and performing well, Savannah saw this as her niche.
Since taking these classes, Savannah has become the Director of the Elder Law Pro Bono Project at Albany Law. She has been working with Professor Rose Mary Bailly to help make this project succeed.
“Professor Bailly is one of the best resources at the law school. She helped me get to where I am today,” Savannah said.
During her second year of law school she traveled with other Pro Bono Project members to local libraries and nursing homes to teach the residents about wills, trusts, health care proxies, and more. As Director, Savannah wants to keep that tradition alive while also expanding the scope of the program beyond the elderly to include young people.
“Younger individuals, on the brink of adulthood, don’t know their options. There are so many things out there available at 18 that people don’t even know exist,” she said. “For example, we want to show high school students that it’s never too early to take control of their lives, we want to introduce health care proxies to them and encourage them to fill them out as soon as they can.” Savannah plans to visit high schools to inform high school students about this area of the law because as she mentioned, “some case law in this area, unfortunately, was created from the tragic accidents of young adults.”
Recently Savannah worked hard to prepare for Senior Citizens' Law Day on Sept. 23. The program provided, at no cost to the guests, a day of workshops for the elderly, as well as one-on-one sessions with volunteer attorneys.
“This type of work gives me something to look forward to, " she said. "This field captures the analytical side of the law, but also the emotional side. I am able to develop relationships with the families that I am working for. It
allows me to give back by helping clients and their families feel more prepared for the inevitable.”
Savannah is currently working at the Herzog Law Firm in the area of Elder Law. Her position with Herzog has allowed her to apply what she has learned in the classroom. “I was able to read about this law in the textbooks and here I am able to do the work of it in the real world,” she said.