The mis­sion of the Pedi­atric Advo­ca­cy Clin­ic is to achieve jus­tice and dig­ni­ty for all low-income chil­dren and their fam­i­lies by inte­grat­ing high-qual­i­ty legal advo­ca­cy into health care settings. 

As a med­ical-legal part­ner­ship, we pur­sue our mis­sion by unit­ing health care providers, attor­neys, and social work­ers to elim­i­nate the effects of pover­ty on children’s health and well-being. 

About the Pedi­atric Advo­ca­cy Clinic

The Pedi­atric Advo­ca­cy Clin­ic was one of the first med­ical-legal part­ner­ships to be based in a law school clin­i­cal setting. 

Through this part­ner­ship, stu­dents are able to reach fam­i­lies most in need of legal assis­tance, includ­ing immi­grant and lim­it­ed Eng­lish pro­fi­cient fam­i­lies, and become part of a team work­ing to address social deter­mi­nants of health for vul­ner­a­ble families. 

Case­work includes spe­cial edu­ca­tion, Med­ic­aid appeals, domes­tic vio­lence and fam­i­ly law, pub­lic ben­e­fits, and low-income housing. 

Stu­dents in the clin­ic are involved in all aspects of a case and learn a range of advo­ca­cy skills, from pre­ven­ta­tive legal advo­ca­cy (focus­ing on iden­ti­fy­ing issues at an ear­ly stage and on devel­op­ing cre­ative, mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary approach­es to address­ing them) to tra­di­tion­al lit­i­ga­tion skills in both admin­is­tra­tive and tri­al court settings.

Ben­e­fits to Students

Hands-on Lit­i­ga­tion Practice

The Pedi­atric Advo­ca­cy Clin­ic prac­tices at both the fed­er­al and state lev­el — in courts, admin­is­tra­tive agen­cies, and local school dis­tricts. Stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in every stage of lit­i­ga­tion — from devel­op­ing the facts and a the­o­ry of the case, to con­duct­ing ini­tial pre-fil­ing dis­cov­ery, to rep­re­sent­ing a client in a hear­ing, to post-tri­al motions and appeals.

Vari­ety of Legal Issues

Some Pedi­atric Advo­ca­cy Clin­ic cas­es are direct­ly con­nect­ed to a patient’s health, while oth­ers improve a family’s sta­bil­i­ty and, by exten­sion, ease the strain on an already stressed family. 

Stu­dents may find them­selves nego­ti­at­ing with a school dis­trict to keep a child with autism from being pushed out of school, help­ing a child obtain Med­ic­aid cov­er­age for need­ed med­ica­tion, or obtain­ing a per­son­al pro­tec­tion order for a moth­er flee­ing domes­tic violence.

Mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary Collaboration 

A cen­tral tenet to the med­ical-legal part­ner­ship mod­el, mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tion and advo­ca­cy play a cru­cial role in the Pedi­atric Advo­ca­cy Clin­ic. In prac­tice, this might mean attend­ing meet­ings with teach­ers, school admin­is­tra­tors, and oppos­ing coun­sel in spe­cial edu­ca­tion cas­es, or pro­vid­ing lan­guage for a let­ter from a health care provider to per­suade Med­ic­aid to cov­er med­ical equip­ment for a child. 

Some­times, it’s as sim­ple as speak­ing with one of the clinic’s pedi­atric res­i­dents to learn more about a child’s med­ical con­di­tion in order to ask the right ques­tions when we meet a client for the first time.

Direct Client Contact

A semes­ter with PAC is not just for stu­dents inter­est­ed in a career in health law, edu­ca­tion law, or even for those inter­est­ed in direct client ser­vices. For stu­dents who might be inter­est­ed in impact lit­i­ga­tion or pol­i­cy work at some point in their careers, the clin­ic is a great place to see how the cur­rent law works (or doesn’t) — par­tic­u­lar­ly for stu­dents inter­est­ed in help­ing mar­gin­al­ized communities.

Sup­port for Providers

The Pedi­atric Advo­ca­cy Clin­ic accepts cas­es involv­ing chil­dren and youth or their imme­di­ate fam­i­lies and care­tak­ers referred to us by physi­cians and social work­ers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan C.S. Mott Children’s Hos­pi­tal, Ypsi­lan­ti Health Cen­ter, Cor­ner Health Cen­ter, and Washt­e­naw Coun­ty Mater­nal Infant Health Pro­gram. Please note that we have lim­it­ed resources and are not able to take every case that is referred to us. Often we are able to refer the cas­es we can’t accept to oth­er free legal ser­vice providers.

Curb­side Consults

PAC can pro­vide gen­er­al legal infor­ma­tion direct­ly to health care providers on ques­tions relat­ing to fam­i­lies’ basic needs, such as hous­ing, pub­lic ben­e­fits, fam­i­ly, and spe­cial education.

This advice is for gen­er­al infor­ma­tion only, and should not be con­sid­ered indi­vid­u­al­ized legal advice. If spe­cif­ic legal advice is need­ed, please refer the fam­i­ly direct­ly to PAC.

PAC is not avail­able to pro­vide advice or infor­ma­tion relat­ing to med­ical mal­prac­tice, Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices, or oth­er legal issues hav­ing to do with patient care. For such issues, please con­tact the legal coun­sel for your health cen­ter or hospital.

Train­ing and Workshops 

The Pedi­atric Advo­ca­cy Clin­ic is avail­able to con­duct train­ing for physi­cians, patient-fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions on such top­ics as pub­lic ben­e­fits, hous­ing, spe­cial edu­ca­tion, dis­abil­i­ty rights, employ­ment, fam­i­ly law, domes­tic vio­lence, and immigration.

These pre­sen­ta­tions pro­vide an overview of essen­tial legal top­ics as well as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op advo­ca­cy skills, such as ask­ing screen­ing ques­tions or writ­ing a let­ter to a gov­ern­ment agency or land­lord on a patient’s behalf.