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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Medical Legal Partnership Seminar and Practicum (Fall 2019)

  • Course Number: LAW-808
  • Class Number: 03558
  • Instructor: Barbara Siegel

Course Description

USC Gould School of Law

Medical Legal Partnership Seminar and Practicum

LAW 808

Units: 2-3

Instructors:     Barbara Kamenir Siegel

                        Akiko Nishino

Office:  Variable

Office Hours: before and after LAW 698 class meetings and by appointment

Contact Info:;

Course Description

The course provides students with mentorship from practicing attorneys at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.  The course is focused on working in a Medical Legal Community Partnership setting with vulnerable populations.  Students are offered opportunities to work directly with clients, prepare legal documents and participate in policy discussions.  Students will gain substantive exposure to multiple legal issues and programs impacting vulnerable clients, including but not limited to:  Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Medi-Cal, County Health Programs, Supplemental Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Homelessness, Housing, Domestic Violence and Immigration.   The course combines clinically based, on-site practical experience caring for patients/clients at Medical Legal Community Partnerships with seminars and case conferences.

Professor’s approval is required for enrollment.  See contact information above.

LAW 698 is a prerequisite or must be taken simultaneously with this course.

LAW 808 may be taken for up to two semesters for a combined total of 5 units.

Medical students are always simultaneously enrolled in LAW 808 and LAW 698 for one month full time rotations.  Medical and law students will meet together during LAW 698 and for weekly seminars and case reviews for LAW 808.

Learning Objectives:  At the end of the semester, students will be able to:

Interview clients, including survivors of domestic violence and those with Limited English Proficiency, using the IHELP convention
Counsel a client on a legal issue related to the Social Determinants of Health
Devise legal case plans for clients’ Social Determinants of Health issues
Advocate for a client with another party or parties whether or not agreement is reached
Compose a research memo
Present a case review for input
Set professional development goals with a mentor

Course Notes

All clinical hours are off campus, located at one of the following sites: 

St. John’s Well Child & Family Center
Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County  and L.A. County Department of Health Services County-wide Medical Legal Partnership, or  
The Wellness Center, located adjacent to LA County+ USC Medical Center. 

Students will participate in a weekly one hour seminar, generally held the hour before or after LAW 698 on Wednesday morning.  Additional seminar time will also be arranged in the first 2-3 weeks of the semester.  Clinical hours will be set individually for each student.  Students must have a minimum of 3 hour blocks of time for each clinical session.  2-unit students must put in 6 hours of clinic time per week.  3-unit students must put in 9 hours of clinic time per week. 

All students must complete a Live Scan before the first day of class.  Students will be given specific instructions and information on where and how to complete the Live Scan.  (NOTE:  Prior Live Scans are not acceptable for this purpose.)  In addition, all students must receive a health screen by the L.A. County Department of Health Services.  The health screen includes TB skin testing and communicable disease screening.  Students who prefer to have screening performed by their personal physician will be provided with the necessary paperwork to submit to L.A. County Dept. of Health Services. 

Required Readings and Supplementary Materials

The Upstream Doctors:  Medical Innovators Track Disease to its Source by Rishi Manchanda, M.D.   

The cost is less than $5 and can only be accessed on-line.  Here are some of the ways to purchase the text>   

OR searching the title or author  OR

Additional reading assignments will be posted on Blackboard.

Description and Assessment of Assignments

Students complete a self-assessment at the beginning of the semester to assess proficiency on legal research, written and oral communication, client interviewing skills, problem solving and negotiation skills as well as workplace skills.  Students also assess themselves on substantive knowledge in the areas pertinent to the Medical Legal Partnership setting.    In collaboration with a mentor attorney, students set skill and substantive knowledge goals for the semester.  There is a mid-semester check in and a final self-assessment at the end of the semester.

Case assignments and clinical workload are individualized.

Case presentations follow a format to be distributed in advance.

Students are required to keep a journal of weekly activities while in clinic. The journal is posted on Blackboard, with a sample entry available for review.  Journal entries are private, available only to Professors and student who is entering the narrative.  Professors will review entries weekly.    Journal entries for each week are due on Friday of the following week.  Example:  Entry for week of September 2 will be due on September 13, with an exception for the last week of the semester when journal entries are due by the following Monday, December 9.  Grading for journal entries to be assigned at conclusion of the semester.  One point will be deducted for failed entries and ½ point for late entries.

There is no final exam for this course.

Assignment Submission Policy

Mentor attorney will assign case work, research memos or legal document preparation on an individualized basis.  A copy of all written documents produced for this class must be submitted to professors.

Additional Policies

Students are expected to attend all clinic sessions unless absence has been pre-approved by course instructor.   In the event of illness or holidays (including Labor Day and Thanksgiving), make-up days are required.  Students can arrange make-up clinical hours directly with their mentor attorneys.

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 2-3
  • Grading Options: Numerical or CR/D/F
  • Exam: None
  • Writing Requirement: No
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: yes
  • Participation: Required and Graded
  • Pre-requisites: LAW-698 must be taken concurrently if not previously taken.
  • Enrollment Limitation: 8