Wayne State Law School Adds Cancer Clinic to Curriculum


A new law clinic — the first of its kind in Michigan and one of the first in the nation — has been added to the curriculum at Wayne State University Law School. The Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer clinic extends a partnership between Wayne State and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit that has helped more than 100 cancer patients and their families during its two-year tenure.

Established through a law student fellowship, the partnership offers free legal assistance to low-income cancer patients while training law students to be effective advocates. The clinic, which will start offering a six-credit course in January, will focus on legal services including helping people:

  • Attain public benefits
  • Keep their job or home during cancer treatment
  • Estate planning
  • Long-term health care needs

The clinic began with Kathryn Smolinski, who in her third year at the law school, won a two-year Equal Justice Works Fellowship to develop the partnership and project. “(The clinic) is an opportunity for students to have an impact in a real person’s life. It’s not just hypothetical,” she says.

Smolinski’s hopes to see the clinic offer interdisciplinary programs with the university’s schools of medicine, nursing, social work, and pharmacy. “There is a lot Wayne State can offer to the community at large through health and law. The program highlights (our) commitment to the community and highlights the expertise of faculty and clinical programs,” Smolinski says.

In related news, the College for Creative Studies in Detroit announced Tuesday that it will launch two graduate programs — a Master of Fine Arts in Color and Materials Design and a Master of Fine Arts in Interaction Design — in fall 2014. The Color and Materials Design is the first masters program of its kind in the United States.

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