Legal-Social Work Collaborative

In this collaborative, law students and social work students work side by side to achieve their clients’ legal goals while simultaneously enhancing the clients’ non-legal outcomes. Social work graduate students work embedded within direct services clinics–Community Law, Criminal Defense, Immigrants’ Rights, and Youth & Education–as members of the legal teams to provide social work services to clients. Law students learn how to collaborate with social work professionals, honing skills that will enable them to more easily work with experts and other non-lawyer professionals. In short, law students receive hands-on experience in inter-disciplinary collaboration through clinical education that is keeping pace with the most innovative models of professional practice.


Clinics work with social work collaborative


Part-time social work interns for the academic year


Cases received social work consultation


Clients worked directly with the social work collaborative

"My team was so appreciative of the support provided by the social work team. Every legal clinic should have social workers!" -Student from the Immigrants' Rights Clinic

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

Social Work Activities


Meeting with Clients

Biophysical assessment
Supportive counseling
Crisis intervention



Outreach to community resources
Communication with agencies
Warm hand-off
Case management

Records Review

Mental health
Expert evaluations


Issue spotting
Case rounds


Social science
Community resources
Evidence-based best practices


Attend hearings
Attend IEP meetings
Accompany client to appointments


Mental health diversion
Sentencing alternatives
Re-entry planning

Collateral Contact

Meetings with social supports
Communication with family members
Care coordination

*Differential diagnosis requires performing a multitude of tasks to achieve the end result, and thus cannot be neatly categorized


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Our team's work with social work was invaluable to our case, client relationships and ability to provide effective legal services while also maintaining client-attorney confidentiality.

Student from the Community Law Clinic

LSWC Featured on MLC Blog


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Our MSW Interns

Stephen (Joey) Irwin | Immigrants’ Rights Clinic

Emily Spencer | Youth and Education Law Project

Canaan Lewin-Welsh | Community Law Clinic

Noor Kayed | Youth and Education Law Project

Steven Pangelinan | Criminal Defense Clinic

Former Interns