Holistic defense partnership

Wayne State University Law School and School of Social Work are piloting a holistic defense partnership for J.D. and M.S.W. students beginning in fall 2021, with the goal of addressing clients' legal and social support needs in tandem.

Holistic defense – also referred to as community orientated or comprehensive defense – is a term used to describe an innovative approach that employs an interdisciplinary team to consider both the individual and community needs when working with a person charged with a criminal offense. Unintended or collateral consequences of arrest and conviction can include loss of housing, removal of children, and even deportation. The holistic defense approach brings lawyers and social workers together to achieve positive legal and social outcomes for criminal defendants.

Law student requirements

During the pilot term, students will complete the Public Service Externship at approved placement sites that engage in holistic defense for clients. Students will also concurrently enroll in the Holistic Defense Seminar through the School of Social Work that will guide them on reflection and skill-building to complement the placement work.

Information on applying specifically for the holistic defense partnership will be posted soon. If you have questions, please email lawexternships@wayne.edu.