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NIU College of Law to open legal clinic

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Northern Illinois University College of Law will open a free legal clinic this fall in Aurora, focusing on legal issues that may contribute to health problems in the area’s indigent population. NIU Law will partner with both Hesed House – a comprehensive homeless resource center in Aurora that will house the clinic – and Aunt Martha’s Health Center.

The new NIU College of Law/Hesed House Community Law Center is a legal-medical partnership clinic that will feature teams consisting of a lawyer and law students, medical professionals and social workers who together will address the legal, medical and social needs of its clients. Aunt Martha’s Health Center will open a health facility at Hesed House this summer, adjacent to NIU’s new legal clinic.

“The issues facing homeless individuals and families are multifaceted, and increasingly demand an integrated approach,” Anita Maddali, director of clinics and associate professor at NIU’s College of Law, said in a news release. “Our new clinic will focus on legal issues that may be hampering the health of clients such as inadequate or no housing, malnourishment, or lack of financial benefits, issues that are traditionally beyond the scope of medical practitioners.”

Maddali anticipates that most of the clinic’s cases will focus on traditional poverty law issues such as housing, public benefits, special education and family law. Initially, the clinic’s legal team will consist of one attorney/clinical professor and five law students.

The clinic will open in September, but “we will spend the first few months educating our students in the nuances of opening such a clinic,” Maddali said in the release. The clinic will begin taking clients in January 2014.

Law students in the NIU Law legal clinic will be involved in interviewing and counseling clients, drafting legal documents, handling discovery and performing legal research. They also will focus on professional skills such as managing and organizing cases, resolving ethical dilemmas, and interacting with professionals, as well as advocating on behalf of a client.

For more information on NIU College of Law/Hesed House Community Law Center, contact Anita Maddali at 815-753-0207 or amaddali@niu.edu.

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