Social Work And Law Students Create Interdisciplinary Organization For Holistic Defense

On Friday, April 14, graduate students at Wayne State University’s Law School and School of Social Work formally introduced a new interdisciplinary student organization, “Wayne Defenders,” which centers on the students’ shared passion for compassionate, client-centered public defense work (i.e., “holistic defense”). 

Led by faculty advisors Dr. Athena Kheibari at the School of Social Work and Professor Dan Ellman at the Law School, Wayne Defenders plans to foster long-term working relationships between social work and law students interested in pursuing a career in holistic defense.

Wayne Defenders

The group also hopes to spread awareness about holistic defense more broadly. This model of public defense acknowledges that many circumstances may lead people into the criminal legal system, which may subsequently create long-term collateral consequences. Under a holistic defense model, social workers and lawyers collaboratively address clients’ needs by providing comprehensive social support and legal representation.

For more information about Wayne Defenders and how to get involved, email

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