Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
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Seth Guess

University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law graduate Seth Guess (JD 12) was recently awarded the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Outstanding Student Award.

CLEA recognizes law students who have excelled in clinical fieldwork in law school by providing high quality representation to clients, and who have engaged in exceptionally thoughtful, self-reflective participation in an accompanying clinical seminar. The award is based on excellence in case work and the quality and extent of the student's contribution to the clinical community at his law school. Seth was lauded for, among other things, his excellent work as a student attorney in the University of Memphis Elder Law Clinic and his willingness to always be a team player and go above and beyond that which is ordinarily required.  

In her letter of nomination for this award, Memphis Law Professor and Director of the Elder Law Clinic Donna Harkness praised Seth for his substantial contributions to all class discussions, in-depth research abilities and active interest in case reviews. “Seth took class assignments very seriously, conducting in-depth legal research and fully exploring the issues, rather than jumping to conclusions or being satisfied with an easy answer,” said Harkness. She also cited Seth’s commitment to his clinic classmates as one of his many attributes that led her to nominate him for the CLEA award. “He is a team player and supportive colleague,” Harkness explained. “He is always ready to assist other student attorneys in a collaborative fashion, sharing legal research, fact-finding tips and helpful suggestions.”

Another area where Seth shined dealt with his excellence in field work. In one notable example from her nomination letter, Professor Harkness detailed a particular elderly client   Seth was assigned to represent, whose intake form indicated that he wanted only a simple will. Through his thorough research, Seth turned up a number of potential issues that might affect the client’s ability to achieve his testamentary wishes and helped the client to work through these.  The client  then asked Seth to open  two additional client files to provide him with financial and healthcare powers of attorney and then a third file to handle some life insurance issues for him, further showcasing the level of trust that Seth had established with this individual. As a further testament to Seth’s rapport and relationship building skills, this same client asked another task of Seth near the semester’s end. The client revealed that he had lost his citizenship and voting rights 40 years ago as a result of several felony convictions, but now wanted to vote in the upcoming Presidential elections. After an extensive search for the client’s conviction records and numerous trips to the Criminal Court Clerk’s office, Seth finally got to the point where he had accumulated the information necessary to file a petition to have the client’s citizenship and voting rights restored. Of all the tasks Seth performed for this client, this particular one showcased the level of trust and comfort that he was able to establish with his client, and enabled him to empower the client by starting him on the path to restoration of citizenship and voting rights.  The client’s case is currently set for hearing in early September, when he will be represented by one of the new student attorneys enrolled in the Elder Law Clinic for the fall 2012.  He should receive the order restoring his rights in plenty of time to vote in the November elections.   

For more information about experiential learning opportunities at the University of Memphis School of Law and to learn more about the work of student attorneys in our Legal Clinic, please click here.


Seth Guess (JD 12), recipient of the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Outstanding Student Award with Donna Harkness (pictured on the left), Professor of Clinical Law and Director, Elder Law Clinic
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Last Updated: 7/18/12