Georgia State Law health law students demonstrated resilience in responding to the challenges of the pandemic and seized the opportunity to work on COVID-19-related legal issues.
When the pandemic hit, many students lost their summer externship opportunities due to budget cuts, uncertain court schedules and social distancing mandates. To fill this void, Ana Maria Martinez (J.D. ’09), president and co-founder of the Georgia Latino Law Foundation, developed the Summer Virtual Judicial Internship program for law students across the state to gain experience. Eight Georgia State Law students participated. They were paired with judges and attorney mentors and performed novel legal research on an issue that COVID-19 has presented to the operation of the legal system. Wesley Billiot (J.D. ’22) worked with Chief Judge Linda Cowen in the Clayton County State Court. His project explored whether judges have immunity should an attorney or participant in court proceedings be exposed to COVID-19 at the courthouse.
Yasamine Jalinouszadeh (J.D./M.S.H.A. ’21), Kate Schiller (J.D. ’22) and Davynn Brown (J.D. ’22) participated in the Systemic Justice Project through Harvard Law. The project engaged law students in summer legal research on health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. As a graduate research assistant for the Georgia Health Policy Center, Jalinouszadeh also worked with policy researchers to create a working summary of the CARES Act, which provided economic aid and relief for COVID-19.
At BakerHostetler, Sophia Welf (J.D. ’20) worked as part of a larger team that compiled a list of reliable COVID-19 related sources and updates. Welf focused particularly on updates regarding COVID-19 treatments, as well as on the different measures each state took in the strive to slow the spread of the virus.
Baylee Culverhouse (J.D./M.S.H.A. ’21) spent spring semester as an intern at MagMutual, on a team developing and implementing strategies to mitigate exposure to liability for physician practices. “This pandemic will inevitably have negative long-term effects on patients’ access to care for years to come—especially for rural, safety net hospitals that are barely managing to stay afloat as it is,” Culverhouse said. “As a field, we will need to strategize ways to assist struggling health systems during their recoveries from COVID-19.”
Students such as Liv Devitt (J.D. ’21) had boots on the ground to make an impact during the pandemic as Atlanta Legal Aid volunteers. Devitt worked directly with clients to help them receive Food Stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and the stimulus check. “By calling and speaking with clients about how they have been impacted by the pandemic, I’ve not only been able to hear what members in my community have been through in the last few months, I’ve also been able to ensure they are aware of and receiving the public benefits available to them,” she said.