Legal-Social Work Collaborative

Law students learn by collaborating with social work interns; working side by side to achieve their clients’ legal goals while simultaneously enhancing the clients’ non-legal outcomes. As the legal profession moves toward a holistic services model—in which all of the needs of clients are addressed in combination—clinical students learn how they can collaborate to address the needs of the whole client.  Law students receive hands-on experience in interdisciplinary collaboration through clinical education that is keeping pace with the most innovative models of professional practice.

Mills Legal Clinic launched the legal-social work collaborative a year ago with the goals of enhancing law student learning and preparation for professional practice, especially as to interdisciplinary collaboration.  The legal-social work collaborative at MLC is now entering the second year of an initial two-year pilot project.

Legal-Social Work Collaborative 16
Legal-Social Work Collaborative 17
Legal-Social Work Collaborative 19
Legal-Social Work Collaborative 18
Legal-Social Work Collaborative 15

Early Accomplishments

  • Social work consultations on 30 cases across five clinics.
  • Provided as-needed services and overviews to clinics upon request.
  • Established inter-university relationships with seven graduate social work programs operating in the SF Bay Area and beyond.
  • Leveraged free and low-cost resources for clinics and the clients we serve.
  • Direct client work with 15 clients across four clinics.
  • Integrated a social work perspective into four clinics that serve individual clients: Immigrants’ Rights, Youth & Education, Criminal Defense, and Community Law.
  • Provided social work orientation to clinic students in the four direct services clinics every quarter starting winter 2019.
  • Needs assessment with clinic students in each of these clinics on a quarterly basis since winter 2019.

Our Work

Since winter 2019, the social work team has met with clinic student teams upon request to provide social work consultation on 30 different cases across 5 clinics. Issues the team have and continue to provide assistance with include:

  • Diversity/cultural considerations
  • Client dynamics
  • Preparing clients for testifying
  • Document/records review
  • Referrals, community resources
  • Trauma
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Assessing quality of expert evaluations/reports
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Identifying experts
  • Evidence-based best practices
  • CPS reportability
  • Psychoeducation with clients
  • Advocacy in non-legal systems
  • School/classroom observation
  • Mental health diversion
  • Sentence mitigation
  • Re-entry planning
  • Attending court dates
  • Attending IEP meetings
  • Vicarious trauma
  • Mental health resources for SLS students

LSWC Featured on MLC Blog

Clinic Collaborations

Youth and Education Law Project

  • Connecting with the social workers at the Santa Clara County Public Defenders’ Office has resulted in sharing of knowledge and resources.  This relationship has enabled quicker and closer communication, collaboration, and advocacy on behalf of a YELP client.
  • Informal collaborative relationship with Alliant University-CSPP’s Assessment Clinic, which is making low cost, comprehensive evaluations available for MLC clients in YELP, and provides valuable learning opportunities for Alliant University’s psychology interns who are conducting the assessments, and further demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Accompanied a parent to a meeting with the school district to advocate for services for her deaf son.

“The social workers were valuable resources during case rounds as they knew of many services being provided in the area.” -YELP Student

“This collaboration is great! Looking forward to continued work together.” -YELP Student

Youth and Education Law Project

Immigrants' Rights Clinic

  • Outreach and advocacy with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) in San Mateo county enabled an IRC client to enter residential treatment through criminal justice funding, while his public health insurance eligibility was being determined.

“My team was so appreciative of the support provided by the social work team. Every legal clinic should have social workers.” -IRC Student

Immigrants' Rights Clinic

Criminal Defense Clinic

  • Outreach to the VA and a veterans’ services organization to facilitate assistance in upgrading a military discharge for a disabled veteran client. 
  • Outreach to an affordable housing program to follow-up on a client’s move-in status.

“Absolutely loved this part of clinic.” -CDC Student

Criminal Defense Clinic

Community Law Clinic

  • Linked a disabled client and his team to an expert evaluator in the community to provide a comprehensive assessment and report for his disability benefits hearing.
  • Mental Health 101 and De-escalation Training provided to staff.
  • Outreach to community agencies to link a disabled senior to concrete services and obtained pre-approval at a core community service agency for their complete array of programs/assistance.

“I think the Legal-Social Work Collaboration is extremely valuable for the Community Law Clinic, especially navigating ethical concerns and dynamics with indigent clients who struggle with mental health.” -CLC Student

Community Law Clinic

International Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic

  • Overview of social work collaboration in Human Rights settings and vicarious trauma
  • Questionnaire feedback session with clinic student’ prior to client interviews.
  • Debriefing for clinic students after fact-finding mission in Mexico (HOPE).
International Human Rights Clinic

Religious Liberty Clinic

  • Case consultation regarding spirituality, mental health, and addiction.
Religious Liberty Clinic