For Inclusion Ireland, the most frequent and prevailing legal query received from members is advice on the making of a will. It is a significant unmet legal need, with an identified lack of specialist expertise within the legal profession in how to tailor a will in a way that best accommodates a person with an intellectual disability.
PILA developed a partnership between Inclusion Ireland, the legal team at LinkedIn and law firm Mason Hayes & Curran wherein people with an intellectual disability are assisted in making a will.
PILA brought in Cathy Smith BL to develop best practice guidelines on how to take instructions from a person with an intellectual disability. These guidelines were then used to deliver sensitivity training in conjunction with Inclusion Ireland to the team of pro bono lawyers.
During its pilot phase, the project has helped 7 people with an intellectual disability draft a will or learn more about the will making process. While the clinics aim to empower clients to take care of their own affairs, ultimately the project hopes to gather learning for the wider legal community.
As one client put it, “The solicitors explained everything to me as they went along. They listened to me very much. I thought they were excellent. I asked a few questions and if I couldn’t understand they explained it to me. I found it hard at the beginning, but they explained it to me and now I understand. They were very helpful and nice people to work with.”