Community HeLP is an in-house legal services clinic in which law students advocate on behalf of low-income clients with a variety of health-harming legal needs. In recent years the clinic’s docket has focused primarily on helping community members in the Athens area with immigration, access to food stamps, and other benefits. Students have also regularly engaged in case-work involving disability rights, advanced care directives, housing, and other issues. Working under the supervision of Associate Professor Jason Cade, students have direct responsibility for all aspects of client representation in cases undertaken by the clinic, including: interviewing and advising clients; conducting research and drafting legal documents; advocating in court proceedings and administrative hearings, and collaborating with legal and medical professionals in the community. Clinic students periodically develop or update training materials for medical providers, legal advocates, and patients, and engage in related systemic policy work. The clinic has downtown office (located very close to campus).
The weekly seminar component of the clinic provides skills training and substantive instruction in the clinic’s primary practice areas. The seminar also includes clinical “case rounds” designed to develop reflective advocacy, collaborative problem solving, and a framework for skills-transfer across issue areas. The clinic is structured so that students receive significant supervision, training, and guidance in the first semester, enabling more independent, advanced, and systemic work in the second semester.
Course Information & Requirements
This is a year-long (two semester) clinic, awarded 4 credits each semester. There is orientation session at the beginning of the Fall semester. Students will be expected to spend an average of at least 12 hours per week on clinic-related work (including the seminar). In addition to attending the weekly two-hour seminar, students are required to schedule five hours per week for regular office hours in the clinic’s office downtown (located very close to campus). Other work on behalf of the clinic’s clients can often be done on the student's own time, including weekends or evenings, if preferred. Occasionally, though very infrequently, the clinic’s cases require travel to Atlanta for administrative proceedings.
There are no prerequisites. However, students with prior experience or course work in health care or health law, immigration law, family law, employment law, housing law, trial advocacy, evidence, disability law, benefits law, criminal law, or other poverty law courses are encouraged to apply, as are students with foreign language skills. Rising 2Ls and 3Ls are permitted to apply.
How to Apply
Enrollment in Community HeLP is by permission of the instructor only and is limited to 8 students per year. Enrollment decisions will be determined primarily on the basis of the Clinic Application form, though in most cases there will also be a brief interview. In addition to the application, interested students will need to submit a CV and (unofficial) transcript. Students may delete or redact any indication of grades or class-rank from these documents, but should not redact the name of the course or their instructors’ names.
Important Dates (2019 Applications):
March 20, 5pm: deadline to submit application, resume and transcript
April 3: date by which students will be notified of enrollment or position on waitlist
April 3-5: dates on which enrolled students may withdraw in writing (for any reason)
April 6-8: dates on which waitlisted students will be notified if any slots became available
April 9-10: confirmation of final enrollment
In the News
The law school’s Community Health Law Partnership Clinic recently achieved a significant administrative legal victory that could have far-reaching implications beyond their initial client who experiences a disability.
In the December 2017 ruling, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services did not provide reasonable accommodations – required under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act – for the clinic’s disabled client when applying for aid through the SNAP (food stamps) program. The USDA has given DFCS three months to implement system-wide procedures for tracking requests for reasonable accommodations, resolving grievances and ensuring that all front-line agency staff receives civil rights training including ADA/504 compliance.
Associate Professor Jason A. Cade, who directs the clinic, says this resolution will benefit many persons with disabilities throughout the state of Georgia. “Due to the ruling, it is anticipated that DFCS will be implementing a range of procedures and policies to bring them into compliance with federal law, which will ultimately make things easier for those with disabilities seeking to access DFCS administered programs. The Community HeLP Clinic often represents persons with disabilities and greatly welcomes this action,” he said.
Law students involved in achieving this momentous, multi-year victory for the clinic’s client were: 2017 graduates R. Larkin Taylor-Parker and Alessandra P. Cunha, third-year students Christopher D. “Chris” Johnson and Clayton C. McClain, and second-year students Gabriel Justus and Slaton Wheeler. The Community HeLP Clinic’s mission is to address the social determinants of health for indigent individuals by tackling a range of legal needs that impact patients, including immigration, disability rights and benefits.The clinic provides a first-rate learning opportunity for law students by giving them responsibility for handling all aspects of their clients’ cases, under Cade’s supervision.
Congratulations to Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law Harlan G. Cohen and Assistant Professor Jason A. Cade. Both were part of UGA interdisciplinary teams that received research awards through the Presidential Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program. Only 12 faculty teams were selected out of more than 150 that submitted proposals.
Cohen’s project is titled “Forecasting the threat of cyber attacks, nation by nation,” and his team includes faculty members from UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Public and International Affairs as well as a political scientist from the State University of New York.
Cade will collaborate on a project titled “Building a network of cultural liaisons to improve the health and well-being of Athens-area Latinos” with faculty from the College of Education, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Public Health, the School of Social Work, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute and the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.
The review team selected winning proposals based on demonstrated potential to address key grand challenges and to generate new external funding in the future. Inclusion of public service and outreach components also was considered, among other criteria.
School of Law faculty member looks for legal solutions to health issues - February 27, 2017
When Jason Cade was offered the opportunity to start the Community Health Law Partnership (Community HeLP) Clinic at UGA in 2013, he jumped at the chance. The clinic, which seeks to address health-harming legal needs of low-income individuals, provides a much-needed service in the Athens area.
“The whole idea behind this clinic is that both short- and long-term health outcomes can be related to legal problems,” Cade said. “Our goal is to reduce chaos in a family’s life, to bring stability and to maximize their income potential or their support. These are things that can make a really big difference in a family’s health especially when you are talking about very low-income persons.”
Cade and the law students, who gain client and work experience through the Community HeLP Clinic, primarily work with professionals at Mercy Health Center, which provides medical care and other support for low-income and uninsured people in Athens and the surrounding areas.
As an illustration, Cade offered the situation where a person has access to asthma medication but lives in a house with severe mold issues, noting the medication will not alleviate the source of the asthma.
“There is often a social circumstance that is connected to a person’s health, and sometimes those social circumstances have a legal solution,” Cade said.”Those are the kinds of cases we work on.”
Students in the Community Health Law Partnership Clinic, directed by Assistant Professor Jason A. Cade, recently won first place and $500 in a contest sponsored by UGA’s College of Public Health Institute of Gerontology. The effort sought to recognize creative solutions to combat senior hunger in Georgia.
The Community HeLP Clinic’s winning entry focused on the implementation of a single streamlined process to assist older adults at senior housing communities with applying for Medicare, food stamps and an underused deduction for out-of-pocket medical expenses, which is intended to help persons receiving food stamps who are disabled or at least 60 years old.
To develop the idea, the clinic partnered with Georgia Cares, the Athens Community Council on Aging and local attorney Nancy Lindbloom from the Georgia Legal Services Program. Clinic students successfully piloted the program with Kristi Bates, a Medicare specialist with Georgia Cares, at a senior housing residence in Athens.
The law students involved in various aspects of developing, implementing or writing up the project were: second-year students John E. Farmer Jr., Mary S. Honeychurch, Christopher D. “Chris” Johnson, Clayton C. McClain and Laney J. Riley; and third-year students Pedro Dorado, Alessandro F. Raimondo and Ashley A. Rudolph.
The award committee called the Community HeLP Clinic’s proposal “brilliant,” and committee members praised the clinic’s guidance and recommendations for best practices and implementation statewide.
Focus On Faculty Profiles: Jason Cade - April 2, 2017
Students in assistant professor Jason Cade’s Community Health Law Partnership clinic gain practical experience providing legal services to low-income patients at community health centers.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I teach two courses and love them both. One is an intensive two-semester clinic called the “Community Health Law Partnership” (also known as “Community HeLP”). Working under my supervision (I’m a licensed attorney in Georgia), each year eight law students in the clinic provide a variety of civil legal services to low-income patients at local community health centers serving Athens and surrounding counties. The students gain deep experience with real-life lawyering in this course, representing individuals in all aspects of their cases. Many of our clients are facing crisis situations and all of them are in poverty. Every semester the cases are different, which means I have to be very flexible in keeping the curriculum relevant. I structure the clinic so that students continually practice and reflect on skills and experiences, learning collaboratively from each other’s challenges as well as their successes. The students gain tools in the process that I think translate to almost any kind of legal work. Just as importantly, they tend to end up embracing the core value that all clients deserve outstanding representation—including, and perhaps especially, those who cannot afford to hire an attorney.
Teaching the doctrinal immigration law course is very rewarding, too. That subject matter aligns with my primary research areas, and I love having discussions with students about how well the goals underlying the immigration system align with the on-the-ground realities of immigration law and procedure.
What interests you about your field?
Although the Community HeLP clinic engages in many aspects of poverty law, my primary area of research and practice has been immigration law. As a scholar, I try to make sense of the roles and responsibilities of the many officials who implement the sprawling, rigid immigration code and to think about the complexities of how we use immigration law to define our national community. I’m particularly interested in examining how our legal institutions operate for noncitizens who encounter the criminal justice system or who lack a path to lawful status under current law.
As a still-practicing lawyer, many things interest me about immigration law. You have to be very creative and you have to be a good storyteller in this field. The work typically involves figuring out solutions to complex problems and helping clients effectively communicate their stories in ways that are accurate, compelling and legally significant. Also, when you have success in an immigration case, frequently you’ve achieved life-changing results for your client, which is very gratifying.
- Read the full interview.
Community HeLP Clinic offers assistance to Athens Housing Authority residents - Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Georgia Law’s Community Health Law Partnership, led by Assistant Professor Jason A. Cade, took on a substantial advocacy project during November to benefit residents of Athens Housing Authority in addition to its current work with patients at Mercy Health Center.
State law changed on Oct. 1, allowing households with elderly or disabled members to qualify for additional SNAP (food stamps) benefits based on unreimbursed medical expenses. Second-year student Christina A. Cason and third-year student Andrew B. McClintock led a presentation on the newly changed law to residents of AHA, and shortly after, the entire clinic screened AHA residents who expressed food insecurity at the presentation. As a result, the clinic has accepted 10 residents as new clients and provided advice to numerous others regarding their eligibility for food stamps and the medical expense deduction. Cason and McClintock, with assistance from other clinic students, also developed a standard form to help applicants and advocates calculate qualifying expenses. The form has been shared with the Georgia Legal Services Project in hopes that it can be used to assist qualifying individuals throughout the state.
The clinic plans to continue its presentations and screenings on this issue in 2016.
Community HeLP Clinic caps successful year with win - Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Congratulations to Georgia Law’s Community Health Law Partnership for finishing its first year with a win in a contested SNAP (food stamps) case. During the spring semester, third-year students Ricardo A. “Richie” Lopez and Carrie A. Moss advocated on the behalf of a disabled clinic client and achieved an almost $200 monthly increase in benefits.
Lopez and Moss also uncovered multiple agency errors leading to significant underpayments dating back almost one year. Three days after graduating from Georgia Law, Lopez returned to the clinic to represent the client in an administrative hearing, during which the agency relented on all issues and agreed to reimburse the client for back benefits totaling almost $1,600.
Directed by Assistant Professor Jason A. Cade, the Community HeLP Clinic provides an innovative approach in addressing the social determinants of health for indigent individuals. Law students partner with health care professionals to tackle a variety of legal needs that affect patients. Over the course of the 2014-15 academic year, students in the clinic assisted approximately 40 low-income persons in the Athens area in overcoming a range of health-harming legal needs, including issues relating to food stamps, disability benefits, and immigration.