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Health Justice Clinic students discuss medical-legal partnership with social workers and community legal aid partners at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Health Justice Clinic

Learn to be a lawyer while advocating for low-income people facing cancer.

Since Fall 2015, HJC student attorneys have staffed LegalCare at Roswell, a medical-legal partnership serving patients of Roswell Park Cancer Institute who otherwise would not have access to a lawyer.

HJC students will interview, counsel, draft legal documents, and advocate for patients in legal matters commonly experienced by people with cancer, such as:

Contact Us

Danielle Pelfrey Duryea, Assistant Dean for Interprofessional Education and Health Law Initiatives

516 O'Brian Hall, North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
716-645-3041
dnpelfre@buffalo.edu

  • Advance planning for health care decision-making
  • Fighting unhealthy housing conditions and housing instability
  • Ensuring that employers appropriately accommodate patients' treatment-related needs
  • Planning for care and custody of children
  • Appealing insurance and other benefits denials

Medical-legal partnerships bring lawyers and front-line health care providers together to address legal barriers to patient health in the medical setting.  For example, if poor rental housing conditions such as mold or rat infestation are exacerbating a child's asthma condition, then medication won't effectively control the child's asthma attacks; rather, the asthma needs to be “treated” with a legal intervention to enforce landlord compliance with housing conditions laws.

The HJC also works collaboratively with local health and advocacy partners to support good health at the population level through changes to statutes, regulations, and policies.  Current community partners include Neighborhood Legal Services and Center for Elder Law & Justice.

HJC students develop skills transferrable to virtually any legal practice setting, including:

  • How to advocate for individuals both informally and in negotiations, courtroom, and/or administrative settings;
  • How to build client-centered attorney-client relationships;
  • How to interview and counsel effectively;
  • How to work with and within the context of a large corporation;
  • How to collaborate with other professionals to advance client goals and improve client outcomes;
  • How to communicate with non-lawyers about legal issues and rights;
  • How to conceptualize and advocate for systems change based on an understanding of how particular laws, regulations and/or policies affect individual lives; and
  • How to work with community partners to advance positive change.

At the same time, we think broadly about how U.S. legal, healthcare, and social service systems support – or fail to support – good health and quality of life across the lifespan.  As part of this broader conversation, we learn about population-level health disparities, discuss whether such disparities constitute injustice, and consider how and why lawyers can contribute to alleviating health disparities.