by Grant Friedman
The Nebraska Public Interest Law Fund (NPILF) provides a limited number of stipends to University of Nebraska College of Law students who secure unpaid public interest positions with a host organization that serves an unmet legal need.
2L Grant Friedman, a 2021 NPILF recipient, worked with Legal Aid of Nebraska and reflects on the experience below.
This summer, I had the privilege of clerking with the Health, Education, and Law Project (HELP) at Legal Aid of Nebraska. Legal Aid of Nebraska works to provide legal services to Nebraskans that cannot afford legal assistance. Legal Aid’s Health, Education & Law Project (HELP) seeks to address legal problems that have an overall impact on health. HELP provides legal education and services in partnership with hospitals, health centers, and medical providers that refer individuals directly to HELP. By partnering with hospitals, health centers, and medical providers, HELP identifies clients with legal needs that impact their health.
I choose to apply to Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Health, Education, & Law Project (HELP) because of my goal of ensuring all individuals are guaranteed equal protection under the law and because of my own experiences with healthcare inequality. Legal Aid of Nebraska’s mission of providing dignity, hope, self-sufficiency, and justice through quality civil legal services exemplifies the kind of work I would like to do once I am in practice. HELP seeks to address legal problems that have an overall impact on health by providing legal education and services in partnership with hospitals, health centers, and medical providers that refer individuals with legal needs that impact their health.
I am particularly interested in HELP because of the commitment to providing legal services to problems that impact health. The issue of health has been at the forefront of conversations for the past year during the pandemic. It is necessary to address the legal problems associated with health in order to make our communities a safer place for everyone. I feel my personal experience with legal problems relating to health and my education will allow me to utilize the skills I have learned in law school in a manner that furthers our shared goal of ensuring all individuals are healthy without dealing with legal barriers.
HELP’s work demonstrates the importance of addressing healthcare inequalities through legal avenues. Unfortunately, individuals that are most likely to have legal issues related to health do not usually have the resources to advocate for themselves in the legal system. Legal Aid steps up to make sure that the law is not a place solely for those with the money and the means but a place that seeks justice for all individuals that have been wronged. For over fifty years, Legal Aid has worked towards making the law a place where everyone can seek justice. Their record demonstrated that they were doing the important work that I wanted to do but was not sure how when I first started law school.
I directly worked with the Medical-Legal Partnership LAN has with hospitals and healthcare networks throughout the state. The clients I worked with were referred to LAN from a hospital or healthcare center. I spent some of my time meeting with clients in these hospitals and clinics, trying to assess their legal needs and provide those services. Most of their needs focused on obtaining guardianship for a loved one who was no longer able to take care of themselves, drafting a power of attorney or will, health insurance claims, medical debt, addressing child custody or paternity issues, and other health-related legal needs. I spent most of my time drafting these documents, preparing for trial, meeting with clients, and researching issues relating to guardianship and custody.
Towards the end of my clerkship, I drafted the guardianship handbook for LAN’s self-help website. This handbook provided the following information: who can be a guardian, when guardianship is necessary, the legal process for guardianships, the responsibilities and powers of guardianship, what to do after being appointed guardian, and sample forms for filing and managing a guardianship. I had such a great experience and learned so much working at Legal Aid this summer and am grateful for the opportunity NPILF provided me.