Christopher Phillips


Christopher (Chris) Phillips is a May 2020 graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Law who will serve as a Borchard Fellow at the Center for Elder Law & Justice (CELJ) in Buffalo, New York. Having volunteered at various local nursing homes and assisted living centers, Chris began law school resolved to use his legal skills and training to help older men and women manage their affairs. During his first year of law school, Chris connected with CELJ, where he began working in the organization’s Guardianship Unit, which oversees approximately 100 guardianships at any given time. During this time, Chris drafted court documents, attended guardianship court proceedings, and worked with the unit’s attorneys, social workers, and accountants to address the unique needs of the unit’s vulnerable clients.

Building from this experience, Chris continued at CELJ as a Law & Policy Advocacy Intern, in collaboration with the Health Leadership Fellows Program of the Health Foundation of Central and Western New York. Working for a cohort of six local non-profit executives, Chris helped design and implement a training for court-appointed guardians to highlight the importance of supportive decision-making and self-determination. During his final semester of law school, Chris participated in the Pro Bono Scholars Program, a program offered by the New York State Unified Court System that permits law students to sit for the New York State Bar Exam in February and thereafter complete a twelve-week Pro Bono field placement in satisfaction of the last semester of school. In this capacity, Chris worked for CELJ’s Medical-Legal Partnership located at the Erie County Medical Center Corporation by providing direct legal services to the hospital’s patients and residents at the adjoining skilled nursing facility.

As a Borchard Fellow, Chris will continue at CELJ by expanding the agency’s partnership with the Western New York Pride Center’s Silver Pride Project. The goal of this project is the improvement of the lives of the community’s aging LGBTQ+ community. In providing direct legal services and educational outreach events, Chris will address pressing legal issues faced by this unique population. In addition to remedying these unique legal issues, Chris will also work alongside the Pride Center to alleviate feelings of social isolation and poor social determinants of health. Chris holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Canisius College of Buffalo and his application to New York State Bar is currently pending.

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