Charity Scott Honored for Work in Health Law Partnership

Charity Scott, Catherine C. Henson Professor of Law, was recognized for her “Vision, Inspiration, and Resourcefulness” in the creation of the collaborative community program known as the Health Law Partnership [HeLP] at the annual Shake It Up for HeLP event in April.

“The advisory council for the Health Law Partnership and staff and faculty wanted to honor Charity because, without her, HeLP wouldn’t have gotten off the ground,” said Sylvia Caley (M.B.A. ’86, J.D. ’89), clinical professor and director of HeLP. “In many respects she is the mother of HeLP. Her ideas and energy are embedded in everything the Health Law Partnership has accomplished during the last 13 years.”

HeLP is a partnership between Georgia State Law’s Center for Law, Health & Society, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta that aims to improve the health of low-income children and their families through on-site legal services clinics at hospitals and to foster interdisciplinary practice and education between the legal and health professions.

Steve Gottlieb, Executive Director of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society gives remarks at the 4th Annual Shake it Up event on April 21. Photo by John Disney/Daily Report.

“Charity Scott, along with Sylvia Caley, was the driving force in the creation of the HeLP project,” said Steve Gottlieb, executive director of Atlanta Legal Aid Society. “She began that drive in the early ’90s and was turned down at least three times, before we found a hospital partner who shared her vision. The word I always use to describe Charity is relentless, because she would not give up on her belief that patients in hospitals, especially children, needed a collaboration between lawyers and doctors to address the social and economic determinants of their health.”

It took nearly 15 years to get everyone on board with a medical-legal partnership, as one profession was often wary of the intentions of the other, Scott said. “Happily, being ‘relentless’ over the years paid off when we finally and formally entered into our community partnership in 2004,” Scott said.

As part of the partnership, Georgia State Law developed a legal clinic with HeLP as the source of client referrals. Scott served the clinic’s founding director for its first five years. Atlanta Legal Aid set up an office at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. and Children’s Healthcare provided the space, equipment and furnishings needed to open for business at the hospital.

Since then, HeLP has had an expansive reach into the community, Scott said.

“HeLP’s clients have received significant financial, social, personal, and other benefits over the years through HeLP’s legal representation, which have profoundly contributed to improving the health and well-being of so many children and families in Atlanta,” Scott said.

In addition, the partnership has created a first-class clinical education program that is a model for law school teaching. Innumerable conference presentations, publications, and research continues to flow from HeLP’s endeavors, in part seeking to reform health law.

HeLP’s success is founded on the strengths of its leaders and partners and has succeeded due to the efforts of faculty, students, volunteers and countless supporters in our community, Scott said.

“Compared to all of these wonderful people and all of their great efforts, my own contribution to the whole endeavor has been relatively minor,” Scott said. “I just believed that this was a great idea that might eventually catch on. I simply kept the faith in the idea that HeLP might someday become more broadly accepted and be seen as a truly worthwhile collaboration in our community. I am immeasurably grateful that this has proven to be so.”

In addition to the award, HeLP members set up the Charity Scott Summer Law Student Scholarship, which will provide a stipend to students who work full time for 10 weeks during the summer at the HeLP office, Caley said.