Health Justice Advocacy
The Health Justice Advocacy Clinic focuses on the development of fundamental advocacy skills through primarily non-litigation strategies, with a particular emphasis on interprofessional problem solving and addressing barriers to health for low-income populations and communities of color. Economic, cultural, environmental and social conditions threaten the health of nearly 40 million individuals living in poverty nationwide. The healthcare industry, even at its optimal level of functioning, cannot improve the health of the population without addressing the underlying causes of poor health. In the Clinic, students will connect legal theory to practice and identify and respond to the legal doctrine, social structures, legal systems, and regulatory schemes that contribute to poor health.
Students will work through challenging and complex public health and social problems, and employ creative advocacy strategies to improve the health of low-income individuals and communities. Clinic students will learn to identify social determents of poor health, create accurate problem statements, and develop and implement innovative solutions to address the problem. Students may educate, represent or collaborate with community groups, tenant associations, nonprofit organizations, members of Congress, or governmental agencies to remedy systemic issues that affect health outcomes. Students will develop expertise in numerous advocacy strategies, including stakeholder interviewing, research and information gathering, legal and social science analysis, policy brief creation, model legislation drafting, written and oral advocacy, effective collaboration and coalition building, education of affected communities, project planning and management, advocacy before or education of policymakers, professional ethics, and presenting before multiple diverse audiences. Students will reflect on their development of lawyering skills, as well as the social, justice and healthcare systems in which their projects originate. Through these activities students also commit to their own professional development and realize their own personal philosophy of lawyering.
Professor Emily Benfer teaches this Clinic beginning in Spring 2019.