Member School Highlight – Wake Forest University School of Law

Location:  Winston-Salem, NC
Founded: 1894
Joined AALS: 1935
Dean:  Andrew Klein

Located in Winston-Salem, NC, Wake Forest University School of Law is a private American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school founded in 1894 and a member of AALS since 1935. The mission of Wake Forest Law is to advance the cause of justice by creating knowledge and educating students to meet the legal needs of the world with confidence, character, and creativity. Wake Forest Law instills in its 461 first-year JD students a respect for the law, a devotion to the ideal of service, and a commitment to professional values. Wake Forest Law educates students from around the world in a richly diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Wake Forest Law is known for its Legal Writing program, experiential education, and renowned faculty.

The Heirs’ Property Project provides law students with experience in property law, trusts and estates, and other areas of law as they assist in representing heirs’ property owners toward clearing the title to land, resolving adjacent legal issues, and navigating state and federal land management programs.

Wake Forest Law’s new Heirs’ Property Project, housed in the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, hopes to help fill the gap in legal services around heirs’ property, once again demonstrating a deep commitment to equity, justice, and Wake Forest’s motto of Pro Humanitate.

Heirs’ property, a form of joint ownership of land by descendants of a person who died without a will, bars access to capital, government assistance, and expertise—and it invites predatory dispossession. As much as 4% of all property in North Carolina—valued at approximately $2 billion—is held as heirs’ property, yet only a handful of organizations in the state provide legal and other services to heirs’ property owners. Unsurprisingly, most heirs’ property titles exist in communities of color and low-income communities.

The Heirs’ Property Project, which partners with front-line organizations across North Carolina, helps:

Clinic Director Scott Schang, with assistance from Law Fellow Jesse Williams, is supervising 12 students this semester as they take on six heirs’ property cases. The project is funded in part by a pledge from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina Working Group and a grant from the Skadden Foundation.

The Heirs’ Property Project is built on radical collaboration (the project is engaging the School of Divinity and undergraduate students). It demonstrates Wake Forest Law’s leadership in the field of environmental justice.

“The Heirs’ Property Project is an excellent example of radical collaboration between students, faculty, other departments and schools across Wake Forest, community leaders, private practitioners, and community members to address the vital needs of disadvantaged NC families,” said Dean Andrew Klein.

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