Wright, Jennifer

Jennifer Wright


(651) 962-4952
(800) 328-6819, Ext. 2-4952

1000 LaSalle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Office Location: MSL 462

J.D., Stanford Law School

B.A., Swarthmore College

After law school, Wright worked as an affiliated attorney with the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, founding and directing the Immigration Amnesty Project. She then worked for ten years as a staff attorney for Oregon Legal Services, specializing in elder law. She was the statewide elder law resource for Oregon Legal Services and presented many continuing legal education seminars on issues such as guardianship law, nursing home law, Medicaid and Medicare, advanced directives and end-of-life decision making, and ethics. During her time with Oregon Legal Services, Wright authored the Oregon Elder Abuse Prevention Act.

Wright founded the Willamette Faculty Pro Bono Program and co-founded the Willamette Pro Bono Honors Program, to assist and recognize law student involvement in pro bono activities. As a member of the Marion County Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, Wright co-founded the Mentor-Match Program, a pro bono program matching law students with pro bono attorneys to serve the needs of indigent clients. In 2002, she was awarded the Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award by the Willamette University Public Interest Law Project. In 2003, she received the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award from the Marion County Bar Association.

Wright directs the Elder Law Practice Group at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where she teaches and supervises law students who are aiding elderly clients in long-term care and financial abuse situations. Wright is also a member of the Pro Bono Committee of the Elder Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association, recorder for the statewide Substitute Decision Making Network, and recorder for the Civil Law Committee of the statewide Vulnerable Adult Justice Project.

Courses Taught

Number Title Credits
940 Clinic: Elder Law Practice 6
943 Clinic: Adv Practice Elder 1
950 Supervised Resrch & Writing .5

Areas of Academic Expertise:

Elder Law Mediation

From the article "Grand Ideas: Faculty members describe the best ideas from their scholarship" St. Thomas Lawyer Magazine Fall 2011

The most important idea in my scholarship has been questioning the assumptions that the law and social institutions can frequently and easily improve the well-being of the impaired elderly by taking away their abilities to make their own decisions. The laws governing guardianship, surrogate decision-making and provision of elder care presume that it is generally better for the impaired elderly to take away their decision-making authority and give it to a capable and well-intentioned other. The undisputed data in empirical research assessing the actual wellbeing of impaired elderly people indicate that this presumption is most often wrong. The laws’ prescriptions are based on presumptions about human psychology that are provably false, resulting in serious, unintended consequences. Bringing the insights of gerontology and psychology into elder law significantly will change many of our legal systems.

Upcoming: Defining, educating and effectively instilling new and better ways of dealing with impaired elders in our legal and social systems.

Contributions and mentions in the media

World Congress on Adult Guardianship - "Mediating in the Shadow of Guardianship: Possibilities and Pitfalls"

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New York Times - "The Doctor’s New Prescription: A Lawyer"

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New York Times - "Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win"

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Minneapolis Star Tribune - "Project: Sanctions not tough"

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Herald Tribune - "Elder guardianship: A well-oiled machine"

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Jennifer L. Wright, Religious Law Schools and Democratic Society, How. L.J. (forthcoming 2013).

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Jennifer L. Wright, Guardianship for Your Own Good: Improving the Well-Being of Respondents and Wards in the USA, 33 Int'l J. Law & Psychiatry 350 (2010).

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Jennifer L. Wright, The St. Thomas Effect, U. St. Thomas Legal Stud. Res. Paper No. 06-26 (2006).

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Jennifer L. Wright, Therapeutic Jurisprudence in an Interprofessional Practice at the University of St. Thomas Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services, 17 U. St. Thomas L. Rev. 501 (2005).

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Jennifer L. Wright, Protecting Who from What, and Why, and How?: A Proposal for an Integrative Approach to Adult Protective Proceedings, 12 Elder L.J. 53 (2004).

Jennifer L. Wright, Unconstitutional or Impossible: The Irreconcilable Gap Between Managed Care and Due Process in Medicaid and Medicare, 17 J. Contemp. Health L. & Pol’y 135 (2000).

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Jennifer L. Wright, Nursing Home Discharge Law, in Chapter 2 – Long-Term Care Planning, in The Elder Law Handbook, 2nd Ed. (Minnesota State Bar Ass’n 2008).

Jennifer L. Wright & Natasha Merz, Anatomy of a Nursing Home Discharge, in 17th Ann. Elder L. Inst. (Minnesota State Bar Ass’n 2007).