Summer Clinical Opportunities Respond to Increased COVID-19-Related Legal Needs in Unemployment and Bankruptcy

Professors Anne Wells (middle-left) and Gary Williams (middle-right) lead two new summer clinical opportunities at Public Counsel and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles (NLSLA).

This Spring, as the school year came to a close, our legal aid partners reported increased client need, and limited resources to expand services. Many LLS students wanted to use their summer to help clients affected by COVID-19, but had no prior experience in the relevant fields. LLS faculty quickly stepped in to bridge the gap, offering training and supervision. By June we’d created two new summer clinical opportunities, both of which are now in full swing. Professor Anne Wells supervises students working with Public Counsel on bankruptcy matters and research for clients affected by COVID-19. Other students, supported by Professors Gary Williams and Elizabeth Bluestein, with guest lectures from Adjunct Professor Jerry Flanagan (LLS ’10), are assisting clients of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles (NLSLA) with unemployment insurance claims arising due to COVID-19 and related appeals.

NLSLA Supervising Attorney, Sandra Chung (LLS ’11), reports that the LLS students “helped to expand access to justice for individuals in dire need. They provided application assistance, EDD troubleshooting, and most importantly, client centered services. One student had the opportunity to represent a claimant before the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and successfully obtained a favorable result for the client. As a Loyola alumna, I am proud of Loyola's commitment to train and educate the next generation of leaders to bring about social justice.”

At Public Counsel, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney Maggie Bordeaux shares that the LLS students have helped maintain continuity of service for clients during the pandemic.  “Due to the shelter in place orders we had to transition our walk-in bankruptcy services to a remote intake process where clients apply for assistance online.  With the added capacity provided by this great group of Loyola students, we were able to reopen our telephone hotline, with students conducting telephonic intake for clients who don’t have the technology to apply over the internet.”  As part of the summer experience, Bordeaux created a speaker series to introduce the students to practitioners and judges in the bankruptcy field, to supplement their research and client work.