Wayne State University

Aim Higher

News and Announcements

Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Program Seeks Wayne Law Alumni for Pro-Bono Panel

November 29, 2011
An innovative legal-medical partnership spearheaded by Wayne Law alumna Kathryn Smolinski ’11 is seeking alumni volunteers for a pro bono panel to help provide legal information, resources and representation to low-income cancer patients as part of their overall cancer care.

Recognizing that legal issues can often create barriers to care for these patients, Smolinski created the partnership between Wayne Law’s Disability Law Clinic and the Karmanos Cancer Center. “We want to bring lawyers, law students, social workers, nurses and physicians together to identify legal issues early and to eliminate barriers to care,” explains Smolinski.
The goal of the partnership is to educate healthcare staff and represent clients on issues of concern to low-income cancer patients such as advance care planning, ADA and family medical leave, custody and guardianship, health insurance coverage, housing disputes, public benefits and Social Security Disability.
Smolinski says members of the pro-bono panel will assist in several different ways:
• giving short educational programs (30 minutes) to healthcare and social work staff of the Cancer Center on particular areas of law
• accepting client referrals in their practice area on a pro bono basis
• being available as a sounding board for questions
“This is a great opportunity for alums to share their expertise in a particular area of law, assist someone in a writing a will, in securing benefits, or in just gaining a better understanding of his or her rights,” says Smolinski. “Cancer and its treatment can be stressful and exhausting. Simply helping someone resolve a dispute with their landlord can give a patient the necessary energy to focus on treatment and health.”
A training session will be provided to all pro bono volunteers to educate them about the program and the particular needs of cancer patients. Smolinski hopes to recruit her first pro-bono volunteers by the end of January and continue building the panel as she begins seeing clients.
For more information about this program or to join as a volunteer attorney, please contact Smolinski at 313-577-9911 or at kathysmo@wayne.edu.