HeLP Legal Services Clinic
HeLP Legal Services Clinic History
Started in 2007 as a collaboration among Georgia State University College of Law, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Atlanta Legal Aid Society, as well as our community partners, which include Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory University School of Medicine, the HeLP Clinic has taught more than 270 students in an interdisciplinary environment.
Students from multiple professions have worked side by side in the clinic to address the social determinants of health for low-income families. We have recovered more than $1.2 million in benefits for our clients, in cases that include supplemental security income benefits, Medicaid, consumer issues, housing, education and insurance, not to mention the value of thousands of hours of free legal assistance to those who would otherwise be unable to pay for a lawyer.
The clinic has been recognized both nationally and internationally for the education that we provide to students. In 2014, the HeLP Clinic was recognized as one of the top 25 most innovative clinics. HeLP faculty have presented about the clinic at dozens of conferences nationwide, and have presented internationally in the Philippines, India, Spain, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Czech Republic, Turkey and Canada. HeLP faculty, often together with HeLP’s Medical Director, Dr. Robert Pettignano, have published more than 16 articles related to the project. In addition, we continue to collect important data about the impact of our work on students, clients, and others.
The experience teaches collaborative, interdisciplinary problem solving and reflective practice, which encourages continuous learning. In HeLP Clinic I, students develop skills such as client interviewing, counseling and representation, negotiation, research and drafting, and case management. HeLP Clinic II builds on these skills by allowing students to handle more advanced aspects of casework.
Under the supervision of clinical faculty, students work on cases involving childhood disability, housing conditions, education, access to healthcare and the drafting of wills and advanced directives. Our clients are low-income residents of the Metro Atlanta area, whose children are receiving care at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Law 6090 is a four-credit hour course offered in the fall and spring semesters. Students develop basic lawyering skills such as client interviewing, counseling and representation, negotiation, research and drafting, and case management through this interdisciplinary learning experience. Watch a video about our students’ experience in the clinic.
Weekly class sessions cover substantive and procedural law, as well as discussions of specific case issues. Students meet weekly with their assigned supervisor to evaluate case progress. Students are required to complete an average of seven hours of case work per week exclusive of class time.
Work in the clinic will likely require travel to Children’s at Scottish Rite, Children’s at Egleston, and Children’s at Hughes Spalding. To work inside the hospital, students must be tested and confirm vaccinations for certain diseases. Clinic students must attend a mandatory day-long orientation session and sign an intern agreement. (Download a sample agreement) Students will be notified of the date of the session upon registration.