The Intersection of Health and Public Interest Law
Founded in 2016, the Center for Access to Justice is Georgia State Law’s newest center. One of the goals of the center, which is led by director and associate professor of law Lauren Sudeall Lucas and assistant director Darcy Meals, is to encourage students to develop a commitment to access to justice in school and throughout their professional careers. Law students interested in the intersection of health and public interest law have participated in two of the center’s programs – the pro bono program and alternative spring break.
The pro bono program connects students with legal volunteer opportunities to address the unmet legal needs of people of limited means. Working under the supervision of practicing attorneys in the nonprofit, public and private sectors, Georgia State Law students are enhancing the capacity of law and legal institutions to do justice. Student volunteer in 2-3 hour blocks that fit in their busy schedules. In just its first year, the program has facilitated more than 700 hours of student pro bono service in partnership with a host of legal services organizations.
Health Law students Sophia Horn (J.D. ’18) and Ali Grant (J.D. ’18) worked with Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s health law unit assisting with estate planning to clients living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, cancer and ALS. “Working with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society brought my classroom learning to life,” said Horn. “Participating in the pro bono program was one of the most memorable parts of my law school experience. It truly helped me develop client skills while also giving back,”said Horn.
The pro bono program was named an outstanding university program and recognized with the 2018 Carl V. Patton President’s Award for Community Service
and Social Justice.
The center also hosts alternative spring break, week-long trips during which students are immersed in a substantive legal issue while engage in related pro bono service. For one of the local sessions, students worked with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation’s Standing with Our Neighbors Program. The group gained an understanding of how substandard housing negatively affects health and education outcomes for low-income children–and how lawyers can make a difference through place-based lawyering.
The National Jurist recognized Andrew “Andy” Navratil (J.D. ’18) as a “Law Student of the Year,” for his leadership roles in the Alternative Spring Break and the Pro Bono Program. “’I think pro bono service is really important for attorneys,’” he said in the magazine’s spring 2018 issue. “’I think we have an obligation as lawyers to give back to society, and we have a duty to make sure the law is applied fairly for everyone, even people who can’t afford an attorney.’”