Originally uploaded at SSRN.


Design options when starting a live-client clinic from scratch can be somewhat overwhelming. Should the clinic focus on systemic impact or individual representation? Appellate work or hearings? Should the clinic specialize or cover multiple legal issues? Another set of issues concerns how the clinic should find and accept its clients, and whether students should have a role in the intake process. The list of choices goes on. In this Essay, written for the Georgia Law Review’s Online Issue celebrating 50 years of clinics at the University of Georgia School of Law, I describe how I have navigated these and other choices in designing the Community Health Law Partnership Clinic (Community HeLP), which just completed its fifth year of operation. My experience suggests that there may be significant pedagogical benefits to forging a middle-path through some of the central divides in clinic design. Specifically, there are deep service and learning opportunities for students who engage in a combination of individual representation and larger advocacy projects concerning multiple — but not unlimited — areas of poverty law. This Essay unfolds as follows. Part I describes the origin and development of Community HeLP in its first five years. Part II outlines the trade-offs between specialization and generalization, and evaluates the middle path thus far taken by Community HeLP. Part III then explores the value of a clinic that primarily engages in individual representation, but in which students also take on larger advocacy projects that flow from the clinic’s case work.