May 25, 2007
Every year, the Atlanta Business Chronicle puts out a call for nominations for its “Health-Care Heroes” Awards. Last Spring, the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) was nominated and was a finalist in the Community Outreach category. The three HeLP partners (Georgia State College of Law, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc.) work collaboratively to address the social and economic conditions that adversely impact the health and well-being of low-income patients and their families at Children's Healthcare hospitals.
What is especially significant about being a finalist for this award is that it is predominantly health care professionals who oversee the award selection process. When doctors start viewing lawyers as “health care heroes,” it is clear that we have made great strides in achieving one of HeLP's key interdisciplinary goals: to foster understanding, cooperation, and mutual respect among the professions.
HeLP has two legal services clinics on-site at Children's at Egleston and Children's at Scottish Rite. The newest expansion of HeLP is at the College of Law. The HeLP Legal Services Clinic opened its doors in time for Spring Semester 2007, allowing the first group of law students to enroll in this live-client clinic which takes referral cases from HeLP.
Law students enrolled in the Clinic are assigned a variety of client cases, which they work on in teams of two students. These cases present an array of issues, including FMLA benefits, SSI, child support, health insurance (private as well as government programs like Medicaid and PeachCare), income supports, and special education.
The students also attend classes each week that address both substantive law and practice skills (such as interviewing, counseling, and negotiation). Their teams meet every week with their respective clinical faculty supervisors, Professors Lisa Bliss and Sylvia Caley.
During the ABA accreditation site survey that took place at the College of Law in Spring 2007, the clinician faculty reviewer gave a highly favorable assessment of the new HeLP clinical program.
Strong HeLP supporters from across the legal, social work, and health professions in Atlanta, including Georgia and Atlanta legal services organizations, major law firms, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory and Morehouse medical schools attended a festive Open House in March to celebrate the opening of the new HeLP Legal Services Clinic.