The Education and Health Law Clinic, first established as the Special Education Clinic in 1995, provides free legal representation to indigent clients in special education, early intervention and school discipline matters. In addition, through a new medical-legal partnership (the HEAL Collaborative) with the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Outpatient Pediatrics Department, students in law and social work partner with medical professionals to address the legal and social needs of pediatric patients with disabilities and their families in an effort to improve overall child and family health and well-being.
Representation in the clinic entails everything from interviewing clients, reviewing school and expert records, researching and drafting legal documents, appearing at meetings with school personnel, mediation, emergency and due process administrative hearings, to handling federal court proceedings either on the merits or for recovery of attorneys’ fees. Students are exposed to new areas of substantive law, learn a wide variety of lawyering skills, and experience first-hand the benefits and challenges of inter-professional collaboration in a multi-disciplinary setting. Students participate in a weekly case rounds class designed to advance the case work in a group setting and to analyze and stimulate reflection on vexing ethical, strategic, and functional issues arising in client and project work.
The clinic also engages in community and State-wide education and training projects and activities. Students in the Clinical Program, together with graduate students from the Rutgers School of Social Work, recently worked on the development of www.rutgershelpsnj.org, a guide to more than 300 legal, social service and other resources serving Newark and the surrounding community.
The pre-requisite or co-requisite Special Education Law Seminar includes substantive law, simulation exercises, and guest lecturers from both the educational and legal fields and provides substantive law coverage and practice skills training for work in this clinic.
- Esther Canty-Barnes, Director