Interprofessional Center

for Counseling & Legal Services

Advanced Elder Law Practice Group students Alex Saumer ‘14 and Troy Olson '14 make their oral arguments to the Minnesota Court of Appeals


Advanced Elder Law Practice Group students Alex Saumer ‘14 and Troy Olson '14 took on a unique experience this semester, making their oral arguments to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The client is one amongst many elderly effected by the state government’s shut down and the change in Emergency Medical Assistance (EMA) program in 2011. The change denied their client of the medical assistance benefits he needed for his urgent care.

The team selected the case in fall 2013 as regular clinic students and stayed on for another semester as the case progressed from District Court to the Court of Appeals. Their first tasks in the case included submitting the Notice of Appeal in September 2013 and later filing and arguing a motion in District Court to continue their client’s benefits as the case was pending.

“This wasn’t Lawyering Skills 3 class, we were dealing with a real person” says Troy. Experiencing the appeal process for the first time, Troy reflects “I was terrified of losing the appeal.” Their client’s life depends on his EMA benefits. 

Director of the Elder Law Practice Group, Prof. Jennifer Wright, took a non-directive approach in allowing the Advanced Elder Law Practice Group students to determine the issues for appeal and their strongest arguments in court after thorough discussion of all the options.  This experience of being responsible for key decisions in the case was particularly important for the students.

“It was a challenging clinic experience as Certified Student Attorneys doing ‘real work’ and managing time and stressful pressure.” Alex states.

The team has been working on the case for six months, up until the pinnacle last week as they delivered their oral arguments in front of the Court of Appeals. The team felt well prepared, having mooted several times, and predicting questions that were well-aligned with what court asked of them.  Some of the moots included experts on appellate advocacy from the law school community and experts on EMA issues from the larger legal community as invited judges. 

Both Troy and Alex agree they have a strong sense of accomplishment and achievement after they moved through the case and continuously pushed to do more for their client.

The team learned much about time management and resiliency through their work. “Expect the unexpected, and prepare for stressful pressures; you will have all the resources you need as you journey through Clinic,” Alex reflected on his experience for students considering Clinic.

The outcome of their case is yet to be determined. However, it certainly left an impression on these two UST Law 3Ls. 

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