Interprofessional Center

for Counseling & Legal Services

Ms. Touch Thouk receives the 2012 Working in Public Interest Student Achievement Award

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Our very own Touch Thouk, an advanced elder law student, receives the Working in Public Interest (WIPI) Student Achievement award for 2012. Congratulations Ms. Touch Thouk!

The WIPI Student Achievement Award honors law students who, through their work in public interest, made a significant difference in the lives of the indigent or under-served. Each year since 2007, the WIPI Executive Board has recognized a law student who has demonstrated social responsibility and an awareness of community issues through significant contributions to the community. The awards’ recipients embody the best practices of civic engagement and have shown a strong dedication to working in the public interest. Ms. Thouk has embodied these qualities thoroughly.

In her first year in the Elder Law Practice Group, Ms. Thouk served on an interdisciplinary team providing pro bono legal representation to a senior facing eviction from a nursing home. Rather than limiting representation to fighting the eviction notice, she worked towards the elder’s ideal solution, returning to his native country of Malaysia. Ms. Thouk has also represented a victim of financial exploitation, and a family member navigating the costs and decisions of her aging father’s care.

Over the last year, Ms. Thouk has focused upon systemic advocacy for vulnerable adults through continued work in the Elder Law Practice Group and a judicial externship. In eight short months, she converted an idea for an educational video explaining the powers and duties of guardians and conservators into a reality. Ms. Thouk wrote the video’s script and collaborated with technicians and court personnel throughout its production. Our state’s Fourth Judicial District, which encompasses the city of Minneapolis, now requires newly appointed guardians and conservators to view the video before final appointment, and the video has quickly become recommended by courts throughout our state. Administrators from courts in other states have sought permission to use the video as well. Ms. Thouk’s work may be viewed at http://www.mncourts.gov/selfhelp/?page=4499.

Ms. Thouk has since collaborated with court administration and the self-help desk in the Fourth Judicial District to produce written materials to supplement the video. She now supervises two fellow law students in creating a comprehensive bench manual for the probate court. Ms Thouk’s work has played an essential role in educating the public, and incidentally, many of the bench and bar, about the important protections for the autonomy and rights of respondents, wards, and protected persons embedded in the Minnesota statutes. Her work has helped to assure that these most vulnerable citizens’ rights are respected in the guardianship/ conservatorship process.

In addition to these accomplishments through our clinic and an externship, Ms. Thouk served as a leader within our law school’s Elder Law Student Association and helped with the coordination of its annual National Health Care Decisions Day project. Its participants operate a walk-in clinic for individuals wishing to complete health care directives. These efforts promote self-determination among low-income seniors by allowing them to make decisions about their health care prior to incapacity.

Thank you for your dedication and hard work in serving the public interest Ms. Thouk!

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