Miami Law Health Rights Clinic

Health Rights Clinic

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The Health Rights Clinic is a medical legal partnership operated in collaboration with the UM Miller School of Medicine. Students participating in the Health Rights Clinic represent multiple clients in different legal matters related to health. Under the guidance of Director JoNel Newman and Associate Director Melissa Swain, clinic students spend the academic year representing low income patients of the South Florida AIDS Network, Jackson Hospital and other medical partners.

Law students function as the client's primary advocate and conduct client intakes/ interviews, conduct legal research, file legal pleadings and legal documents, develop case strategies and theories, and provide representation in administrative hearings and court.

Representation is focused on the following priority areas:

Social Security/Public Benefits – Students provide legal services in Social Security and other public benefits cases. Students represent clients obtaining Medicaid and other insurance. Many students file appeals and/or appear in federal administrative court.

Advanced Directives – Students draft advance directives such as wills, living wills, health care surrogacy, pre-need guardianships and guardianships.

Immigration – Students represent health impaired clients in immigration related matters. Specifically, students file applications and regularly appear before the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of our clients seeking U.S. Citizenship or Legal Permanent Residency.

Veteran Benefits – Students supervised by faculty work with doctors, medical residents, social workers and attorneys to advocate for veteran's legal rights in light of medical scenarios. The Health Rights Clinic presently provides legal services on-site to veterans receiving health care at Operation Sacred Trust (OST). Read More.

Why Join This Clinic?

Collaborate directly with medical professionals – UM Miller School of Medicine medical students, fellows, residents and psychiatrists – to evaluate cases and obtain evidence for clients.

Experience cross-training with medical residents in each other's disciplines – physicians teach at the law school and law students teach at the medical school; also medical students can take this clinic as a clinical rotation offering.

Work together as legal-medical team to review and examine relevant medical records, charts and (for example, termination of life prolonging treatments or loss of mental capacity).

Hands-On Learning

Students develop lawyering skills as they conduct all aspects of the client's case including:

  • Developing a case theory and a case plan for all cases; learning how to organize, manage and triage a case load
  • Conducting an empathetic client-centered interview that accurately identifies client goals and needs
  • Demonstrating sensitivity to race and cultural diversity issues and recognizing and resolving ethical issues
  • Conducting thorough and accurate legal research and communicating and advocating effectively in writing and orally
  • Being able to marshal correct and necessary facts for effective representation
  • Creating and maintaining well-documented client files both paper and electronic
  • Becoming a reflective practitioner and effective problem-solver who can think on one's feet
  • Working as part of a team and conducting oneself in a professional manner with integrity and honesty at all times
  • Exhibiting diligence and punctuality
  • Conducting a hearing, if necessary

Helpful Links:

Prospective Student: Clinic Requirements

Click here to read our latest newsletter, The Clinician.

Click here to apply

Meet the Clinic Team


JoNel NewmanJoNel Newman, Esq. is the Director of Heath Rights Clinic and a Professor at Miami Law.

Flickr Watch video of Professor Newman where she discusses the clinic.


Read the Fall 2014 Newslettter


We provide legal services to the homeless and disabled veteran population of South Florida. Read More.



“Immigrant Medicaid” story aired nationally on the Al Jazeera American network

Miami Law’s Health Rights Clinic Students Save the Life of Undocumented Farmworker

Why Miami's Health Rights Clinic Offers Veterans Free Legal Services - WLRN

University of Miami legal clinic helps secure benefits for ill Army veteran - The Miami Herald

Despite progress in backlog, thousands of Florida’s veterans still wait for benefits- The Miami Herald

Miami Herald - UM law students dig into healthcare policy to help a patient get life-saving treatment

Flickr View more photos of our clinic in action on Flickr.

See full In the News listing.


Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers

We are recognized by ETL - an organization dedicated to facilitating innovation and reform in legal education. Read More.

National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP)

NCMLP, a project of the GW University School of Public Health and Public Health Services' Department of Health Policy, has recognized our clinic's medical-legal partnership. Read More.

Access to Justice Clinical Course Project (A2J Clinic Project)

Our clinic is one of 6 law school clinics chosen to participate in and create a course kit. Read More.

CLEA Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project, 2010, Fred Hawkins and Matt Eandi


Patricia Elizee, JD '10, and Larisa Hernandez, JD '09 participated in the Health Rights Clinic and have opened their own firm specializing in areas of the law they practiced while in our clinic.