Clinic Highlight

Donna Kalanges Receives Clinical Legal Education Association’s
2011 Outstanding Student Award

May 28, 2011

Donna KalangesDeKalb, Ill. – During the Commencement Ceremony on May 28, 2011, Donna Kalanges, a graduating third- year law student, was presented with the Clinical Legal Education Association’s (CLEA) 2011 Outstanding Student Award at Northern Illinois University College of Law.

Ms. Kalanges was nominated for the CLEA Outstanding Student Award as a result of her work in the College of Law’s Spring 2010 Domestic Abuse Clinic and the Fall 2010 Elder Law Clinic.

As a student in the Domestic Abuse Clinic, Ms. Kalanges represented survivors of domestic violence in a variety of civil matters and represented clients in several order of protection matters. Ms. Kalanges conducted a contested evidentiary hearing before the Honorable Judge Heaslip in Juvenile Court and obtained a two-year plenary order of protection on behalf of her client.

In the Elder Law Clinic, Ms. Kalanges assisted eleven clients in a variety of matters. In addition to drafting powers of attorney, last will and testaments and other life planning documents, Ms. Kalanges discovered a real property line discrepancy with adjacent property while researching to draft a quit claim deed. The matter was successfully resolved by negotiating with the other land owner. Ms. Kalanges acted as guardian ad litem in a disabled adult guardianship case, interviewed the disabled adult, prepared a written report and recommendation for the court and presented it at the guardianship hearing. In another case, Ms. Kalanges represented a client who was being harassed by a creditor for old debts. Ms. Kalanges began negotiations that a subsequent student continued to pursue. Finally, Ms. Kalanges addressed a systemic problem when the clerk’s office refused the clinic access to the physician’s report in a guardianship case unless we had a court order despite the fact that both statutory and local court rules allowed the clinic access to the report.

In both clinics, Ms. Kalanges showed sensitivity and compassion toward our survivors of domestic violence as well as our elder clients. Ms. Kalanges participated regularly in classroom discussions about the cases being handled as well as larger issues involving domestic violence and the elderly. She learned to recognize and appreciate the unique challenges of representing survivors of domestic violence related to client confidentiality and safety as well as the challenges posed by representing elderly clients, such as capacity issues and the physical limitations of our clients.

Ms. Kalanges is a good and caring person with an optimistic outlook. In addition to being a wonderful clinic student, Ms. Kalanges was a non-traditional student having come to law school later in life. While in law school, Ms. Kalanges maintained a self-owned business while caring for her children.