Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic

Overview

The Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic (LAPC) at Wayne Law is a medical-legal partnership between the Law School and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center that offers students training on real-life legal issues while providing an invaluable service to low-income cancer patients receiving treatment at the center. Under the supervision of Kathryn M. Smolinski, a licensed attorney and an experienced oncology social worker of over 20 years, law students assume primary responsibility for their individually assigned cases and work directly with clients at the hospital's clinics, at the Law School, and with third-party providers such as federal and state benefit offices, other attorneys, employers, landlords, and insurance companies. Students provide legal representation for clients with both transactional and advocacy-based needs in these areas of law covered by LAPC's "I-HELP" model: 

  • I – Insurance Coverage (COBRA, Health Insurance, Medicaid)
  • H – Housing (Foreclosure, Property Tax Issues, Utility Issues)
  • E – Employment (Benefits, FMLA)
  • L – Life Planning (Advance Directives, Powers of Attorney, Wills)
  • P – Public Benefits (Social Security Disability, SSI)

Karmanos logo

For students

LAPC is an exciting opportunity to learn the practical skills of being a lawyer: interviewing, research, advocacy, document preparation and negotiation (to name a few) while helping cancer patients whose legal needs challenge their quality of life.

LAPC is a six-credit course and meets the experiential education requirement. The advanced clinic is a two-credit course open to students who have successfully completed LAPC, with permission of the clinic director.

Pre/co-requisites:

  • Completed all required first-year courses
  • Good academic standing – at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA or higher
  • LEX 6800 – Professional Responsibility
  • Consent of instructor
  • Students may be required to receive a flu shot, tuberculosis testing and TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine. (LAPC will cover those medical costs if the student needs to have them performed.) 

Student attorneys will represent multiple clients; interact with the clients directly through phone and in person interviews; be present one day per week for walk-ins at LAPC's "Ask The Attorney" legal clinic at Karmanos; work collaboratively with staff at Karmanos and  LAPC alumni and colleagues who are experts in their fields for unique situations; be encouraged to think outside of the box to better assist clients; work in a time-sensitive matter when legal issues call for quick action; learn more about how cancer affects their clients; and work with other students in the clinic to best assist their clients.  

Additionally, LAPC offers an Advanced LAPC learning opportunity. The Advanced LAPC clinic is a two-credit course open to students who have successfully completed the LAPC class and have been approved by Kathy Smolinski. Advanced LAPC students must complete 110 hours of clinic-related work prior to the last scheduled day of that semester's classes.

For prospective clients

Karmanos patients who are financially eligible (income of approximately < $2,000/month or who otherwise cannot afford legal representation) qualify for services on legal matters for which they have not already retained counsel and fall within LAPC's "I-HELP" scope of practice (insurance, housing, employment, life-planning and public benefits). 

LAPC seeks to assist clients dealing with legal issues in the "I-HELP" areas of law so that clients can receive free legal services to decrease their stress while undergoing medical treatment.  LAPC has scheduled "Ask the Attorney" office hours at Karmanos where patients can walk into an office in the outpatient clinic area and speak with student attorneys.

More information about LAPC legal services

Words from past clients

"No words can ever express the appreciation for the speck of hope you started that grew into a miracle revealed when I had given up hope. Your words of encouragement, when I had no one else is cherished even more than the legal help of you and your staff – a team that helps people of no resource is a work showing God's compassion. Greatly needed. Greatly appreciated. This has given me a start of piecing my life back together again..."

"Your advice was easy to understand, packed with information we needed and you made us comfortable, like our needs were coming from a friend! Thank you!! This has been a traumatic stage of our lives. We are so grateful for your involvement."

For donors

Please consider investing in the work of the clinics by making a gift. Visit giving.wayne.edu or contact Rob MacGregor, senior director of philanthropy, (313) 577-4141 or rmacgregor@wayne.edu

The clinic is grateful for the donors who have supported its important work throughout the years. Donations to LAPC primarily fund students who have an interest in public interest law to work during the semester the formal clinic is not offered. By supporting these students financially, donors allow for them to further their skillset and keep the clinic operational year-round.

Additionally, during the holiday season, LAPC accepts donations for its "Winter Wishes" program which provides clinic clients with gifts to bring joy to their holiday season.

Contact

Assistant Professor (Clinical) Kathryn Smolinski
Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic
Wayne State University Law School 
471 W. Palmer St.
Detroit, Michigan 48202 

For prospective clients: lawclinics@wayne.edu or (313) 577-4015 

For existing clients: lapc@wayne.edu or (313) 577-9521