In the Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors Clinic (MLPS), UC Hastings students develop key lawyering skills through representation of low-income older adult patients of UCSF and VA medical clinics. Students provide wrap-around representation in legal issues including advance health care planning, estate planning, public benefits (in-home care, medical insurance, income supports), housing, and other matters as needed to stabilize the patient’s situation, reduce stress, and improve health outcomes. Students meet with patients at an outpatient medical clinic and in their homes and collaborate directly with medical providers.
Over the course of the semester, students work with multiple clients from start to finish and learn about the complex intersection of law and health, the implications for an aging population, and the role of lawyers in combating poverty and health disparities. Students develop skills in interviewing, counseling, critical thinking, document drafting, project management, interdisciplinary collaboration, and “whole person” lawyering. Weekly seminar sessions enable students to reflect on their experiences representing low-income older adults, practice their lawyering skills, and deepen their understanding of socio-legal determinants of health.
There are no pre/co-requisites and no particular experience or background is required. Helpful courses: Wills & Trusts, Healthcare Providers & the Law, US Healthcare System & Law.
3-unit non-GPA class, and 3-unit fieldwork component, graded pass-fail, must be taken concurrently for first-time MLPS students. Returning MLPS students may enroll in the 3-unit fieldwork component.
Class size is limited to 8 students, however, a limited number of additional returning MLPS students may enroll in the 3-unit fieldwork component.
Students must attend two full-day mandatory orientation sessions; one session before the start of the semester and a second session during the semester. MLPS students meet twice weekly for a two-hour seminar which focuses on developing the substantive expertise and skills necessary to effectively serve the client population. The seminar engages students in thoughtful discussion and practice-based learning about planning for incapacity and end-of-life, long-term care, public benefits, complex ethics, interprofessional collaboration, evaluating mental capacity, and more. Classes are often co-taught with medical providers and local attorney practitioners. One of the two weekly seminar classes typically consists of a collaborative session called “Caserounds” during which students gather as a team to present, discuss and strategize about their actual MLPS cases in light of the class material. At the beginning of the semester, additional substantive training takes place during these sessions in lieu of case presentation/discussion.
Students spend 12-15 fieldwork hours per week providing holistic legal representation to UCSF and VA patients from start to finish across multiple areas of law, including advance health care planning, estate planning, public benefits, and housing, in order to stabilize that person’s situation and improve overall health, in collaboration with the patient’s medical providers. Students learn transactional lawyering skills such as drafting advance health care directives, durable powers of attorney for finances, and simple wills, and also learn issue-spotting and advocacy skills as they tackle other legal issues affecting patient health, including access to income (through Social Security, SSI, VA benefits), in-home care (IHSS), health insurance (Medi-Cal), and stable and safe housing. During fieldwork hours, students interview and counsel clients at a UCSF medical clinic and in their homes over the course of several meetings, research factual and legal issues, consult with the supervising professor and other mentor attorneys, manage multiple client cases, draft memos, write letters, execute legal documents, and perform all administrative functions necessary for client-based practice. Students learn interdisciplinary collaboration as they work with UCSF and VA medical providers and engage in joint learning sessions.