Health and Disability Law Clinic
This yearlong clinical course is offered in partnership with the Legal Aid Justice Center, and course meetings are typically held onsite at the firm. LAJC’s clinics are designed to educate students about the range of strategies used by attorneys to identify, investigate and attack systemic injustices, encouraging holistic and community-partnered approaches to lawyering.
Clients’ health needs include public benefits claims (including Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare and other benefits); insurance coverage; obtaining access to mental health or rehabilitative services; and seeking justice for the mistreatment of seniors and those with disabilities in various contexts. Representation may include appearing in legal proceedings, negotiations, administrative hearings and court proceedings (to the extent permitted by law). Students will also address systemic issues related to the provision of community-based services, the rights of the institutionalized, health care in jails and prisons, and the interface between the civil and criminal justice systems on health and mental health related matters.
Instruction in the substantive law of these areas will be provided in a classroom component throughout the clinic as dictated by the needs of the clients. The classroom component provides a forum for students to learn mental health, disability, public benefits and occasionally elder law pertinent to the cases they are handling, as well as for the discussion of practice and ethical issues arising in those cases. Topics relating to client competence and autonomy issues involving mentally ill and elderly clients also are addressed. Under the supervision of an attorney, students directly perform all the lawyerly functions associated with their cases, including client and witness interviews, factual development, legal research, preparation of documents and pleadings, and negotiation and advocacy in administrative forums and courts (to the extent permitted by law). Students may also participate in community organizing to engage and promote local client communities, develop and implement legal education programming for client communities, and collaborate with legal aid advocates and allies to change existing local and statewide law and policy.
Students meet weekly with the supervising attorneys to discuss the readings, if any, assigned for that particular week and to receive case supervision, along with instruction concerning client interviewing and counseling, negotiation and case development. The supervising attorney accompanies each student to all administrative proceedings and court appearances. This clinic is offered in conjunction with the Legal Aid Justice Center.