One of the most innovative programs within Georgia State’s College of Law recently celebrated its busiest semester.
The Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Legal Services Clinic allows law students to work on health-related legal cases, representing families of children with disabilities, most often fighting for supplemental security income. The clinic is the educational arm of the Health Law Partnership (HeLP), a medical-legal partnership between the Georgia State Law, Atlanta Legal Aid Society and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
While the clinic usually has one or two hearings to prepare for, in the fall of 2019, there were five.
“We did significantly more than we normally do, it was a banner semester for us,” said Margaret Middleton, co-director of the clinic.
The amount of work for the clinic could have been overwhelming for the students assigned to the cases, but Taylor Lin (J.D. ’20) says it created a sense of camaraderie, allowing them to learn from the complexities of each case.
“You’re able to bounce ideas off each other and talk about the complications you have in your cases and how to deal with certain conflicts and personalities,” said Lin. “It was a different way to connect with law students and look at what being an attorney is like.”
Lin worked with Michael Foo (J.D. ’20) to prepare their brief. Foo says the amount of cases wasn’t the clinic’s only milestone, their work was record setting in its own right. He and Lin had to comb through more than 15,000 pages of medical records, which was unheard of for the clinic.
“To us that is exactly what legal practice is about,” said Foo. “You do everything for your client. It doesn’t matter whether its 15,000 pages or 15 pages, we were there to do everything that needed to be done.”
Lin and Foo were fighting for disability insurance for a family with a two-year-old boy with sickle cell disease. Their fight was a joint effort with medical students participating in the clinic from Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory University School of Medicine.
“The medical students taught us about the diseases our clients have and how it impacts them. This helped us form arguments for the administrative law judge,” said Lin.
Their team was awarded a favorable result and obtained disability insurance for their client. They credit the HeLP Legal Services Clinic with gaining the crucial hands-on experience they need to be successful after graduation, as well as reminding them why they chose law as a career.
“Everyone comes out realizing that we all played a part in this thing that’s bigger than us and we all walk away wanting to do more to that end,” said Foo.
Written by Mara Thompson