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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

The Legal and Social Determinants of Health: Medical Legal Community Partnerships (Fall 2017)

  • Course Number: LAW-698
  • Class Number: 03372
  • Instructor: Barbara Siegel

Course Description

This 2-unit interdisciplinary course is open to law and medical students interested in exploring the link between poverty and health and how the professions can work together to improve health outcomes for low income individuals and vulnerable communities.  The course explores how legal, social, cultural and economic factors contribute to health disparities and the role that physicians and lawyers can play in advocating for patients and policy change. 

The course is taught by practicing attorneys at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, and is focused on working in a Medical Legal Community Partnership setting.  

There will be weekly class lectures to discuss medical and legal issues impacting the target population. Through facilitated discussion and inter-professional problem-solving law and medical students can learn and practice medical-legal approaches to the complex health and legal needs of vulnerable patients and populations. 

Class will include lecture, case presentations, discussions and potential field trips.  You will be expected to apply and discuss the readings as they relate to legal-medical cases that will be presented during class.  Occasionally during class time, we may visit community organizations and institutions. 

For law students, there are several options for simultaneous enrollment in the following courses:

  1. Law students may add a one-unit writing course on a professor-approved topic.  
  2. Law students may elect to enroll in additional Practicum units (LAW 808) at a Medical Legal Community Partnership operated by Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.  The Practicum may be taken for 2 or 3 units, with hours arranged by mutual consent between professors and each student.  Practicum hours must be in at least 3 hour blocks and are available on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday afternoons and Fridays.  NOTE:  Students who have previously taken LAW 698 or 808 may elect to take a 1 unit Practicum.  

Readings & Response to readings:  Readings beyond the required text will be available on the blackboard in the “content” folder.  The required text is, “Poverty, Health and Law: Readings and Cases for Medical-Legal Partnership,” buy Tobin-Tyler, Lawton, Conroy, Sandel and Zuckerman.

Students will submit “Responses to Readings” (posted in the discussions section of Blackboard) on at least 6 of the weekly reading assignments and are also required to submit at least 4 commentaries on comments posted by other students.  The questions to address will be posted on the Blackboard in the “discussion folder. 

Grading will be based on: 30% for class participation; 30% on written Responses and Comments to Readings; 20% on two assignments in which you will develop a legal case plan in response to a simulated Medical Legal Community Partnership intake; and 20% on either a final case write-up or oral presentation on a topic relevant to the course material.  There is no final exam.  The breakdown is as follows:

30 points             class participation

30 points             6 responses to readings and 4 comments, each worth 3 points

20 points             2 legal case plans, each worth 10 points

20 points             final case write up/oral presentation

100 points           TOTAL

Credit/Grade: You may take the class for credit rather than a grade.

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 3
  • Grading Options: Numerical Only
  • Schedule: Th 10:00 am - 11:50 am
  • Room Number: Room 114
  • Exam: Paper
  • Writing Requirement: Yes with submission of the Upper Division Writing Requirement Form.
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: yes
  • Participation: Required and graded