400.01 Health Justice Clinic


This clinical course focuses on people living with serious illness. Student attorneys are the primary legal representatives for clients living with HIV, cancer, and other serious health conditions. Students may also work on policy or community education projects related to health and the law. Under faculty supervision, students handle cases that help clients access health coverage (Medicaid), income (disability benefits.) Students counsel transgender clients seeking legal name changes, gender marker updates, and gender-affirming care. Students may also advocate for individuals to access quality healthcare across different systems: folks in jails and prisons requiring substance abuse treatment or hospice care, for example, or parents and caregivers in the family regulation system who need mental healthcare. In assigning cases, faculty strive to honor students' interests.

Students engage with clients from diverse backgrounds whose lives have been disrupted by serious illness, including people living in poverty, those who have experienced the financial toxicity of illness, members of the LGBTQ community, and people struggling with substance use disorder or mental illness. The clinic trains students to represent clients in their immediate legal problems and also develops students’ understanding of where structural and systemic changes are necessary.

In addition to extensive client interactions, students will engage with health care providers, social workers, government officials, and other professionals. Students interview and counsel clients and witnesses, draft briefs and legal memoranda, analyze medical records, collaborate with other professionals, including medical providers and social workers, interview and prepare affidavits for medical providers and other witnesses, conduct fact investigations and legal research, and as needed, represent clients in administrative and other hearings. Interested students may have the opportunity to engage in public speaking through presentations to medical providers, social workers, or client/community groups.

The Health Justice Clinic is appropriate for students interested in any practice area, as the skills employed are applicable to all areas of law. The Clinic may be particularly relevant for students who will work in health law, disability law, poverty law, or any administrative law field. Graduates of the clinic also report that it was especially helpful in their careers in public policy, government, and for developing a focus for their pro bono work in large firms.

Classroom work consists of an intensive training at the beginning of the semester as well as a weekly, two-hour seminar focusing on substantive law, lawyering skills, professionalism, the health care system, social safety net, social determinants of health, and the role of race in health disparities. Students work closely with clinic instructors and enjoy a uniquely supportive mentoring and learning experience. Students work on cases with a partner and have a weekly team meeting with the clinic faculty. Clinic faculty prioritize each student's professional development and encourage the development of a work-life balance that will be essential in law practice.

The Health Justice Clinic is offered on a variable credit basis, 4-6 credits.

Clinics Enrollment Policy


Students are required to attend the clinic intensive training session. Students who have previously completed a clinic may skip some portions of the intensive.

International LLM students who wish to enroll in a clinic must seek the permission of the clinic's faculty director prior to the enrollment period. Permission is required to enroll but permission does not constitute entry into the clinic.

Ethics Requirement

Students are required to have instruction in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct prior to, or during, enrollment in the Health Justice Clinic. Examples of ethics classes that meet the requirement include Ethics in Action: Large Firm Practice (LAW 231), Ethics of Social Justice Lawyering (LAW 237), Ethics and the Law of Lawyering (LAW 238), Ethics and the Law of Lawyering in Civil Litigation (LAW 239), Criminal Justice Ethics (LAW 317) and Ethics in Action (LAW 539).

Enrollment Pre-/Co- Requisite Information

Any ethics course (Law 231, Law 237, Law 238, Law 239, Law 317, or Law 539)

Fall 2023

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Reflective Writing
Practical exercises
Live-client representation and case management
Class participation
S. Hannah Demeritt, Allison Korn
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW-400-01-F23
Email list: LAW-400-01-F23@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Requirements - Public Interest
Course Areas of Practice