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Our legal secretary Donna Dean gets a kick out of watching Bailey Flask (left) and Allison Reinersmann (right) pose for their newsletter photo.

Two interns with an interest in elder law picked up some real life experience this past semester in our office.

Bailey Flask and Allison Reinersmann, then third-year law students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, got the chance to put their newly minted legal skills to work at Sykes Elder Law two days a week for several months.

“I feel I’ve learned more here than in many of my substantive courses,” Ms. Reinersmann said. “In the classroom you learn theory and here you learn how to practice. Having both is what makes a good lawyer.

Ms. Flask delved into veterans benefits for aid and attendance, working on applications and improving our checklists and processes. When she had completed her first application, she hand delivered it to the local Veterans Administration office in downtown Pittsburgh.

Working as an intern requires a student to give attention to some of the practical details of a law practice. For example, does the IRS require an employer identification number when a client establishes an irrevocable trust? Not always, Ms. Flask discovered, and backed up her research with excerpts from tax code regulations and excerpts from IRS instruction forms.

Ms. Reinersmann researched and wrote a detailed memorandum on the use of an irrevocable life insurance trust as a means to protect assets from Medicaid spend-down. She also drafted petitions to be filed in Orphans’ Court, worked on an appellate brief in a Social Security disability case, and researched the standards for requesting Medicaid planning in a guardianship case.

Ms. Flask recently landed a job with the Veterans Administration. She credited her work at the firm with making her more conversant about veterans’ legal issues during her interviews with the VA.

Ms. Reinersmann has returned to the firm this summer to help out part time while she studies for the bar exam.

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