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Partnerships create opportunities for success outside the classroom and the courtroom

Many of the outside-the-classroom learning experiences SIU law students enjoy would not be possible without the cooperation and dedication of attorneys and judges who take the time to share their time, expertise, and encouragement.  The SIU School of Law is grateful to all of the attorneys and judges who supervise and mentor students in externships and other work experiences.  These partnerships help ensure that our students are well prepared for law practice.

Another  partnership – between Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) and Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation (Land of Lincoln) - was recognized this year for its success.

The Medical-Legal Partnership of Southern Illinois (MLPSI) was named the 2012 Medical-Legal Partnership of the Year by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership. This award, given annually by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, is presented to a program in recognition of innovative work on behalf of vulnerable populations, and significant contribution to advancing the national medical-legal partnership movement.

SIU School of Law would like to congratulate alumna Diane Goffinet ’93, Senior Attorney with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, and everyone at Land of Lincoln and SIH who has contributed to the success of this program.

 “I am very pleased that the National Center for MLP chose to recognize MLPSI as the Outstanding MLP of the year and I am very proud of the partnership that has been formed between Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance and SIH; however, more than this, I am proud of the positive impact that this partnership has had on the individual clients that I have helped because of MLPSI.  It is truly amazing to affect a person’s health through legal advocacy,” said Goffinet.

Megan Sandel, MD, Interim Executive Director for the National Center for Medical Legal Partnerships said, “While there are many amazing MLPs across the country, we wanted to recognize the incredible leadership and work of MLPSI. Few programs have been so instrumental in moving the MLP movement forward, from providing hours of technical assistance to other programs to demonstrating the multiple benefits of MLP.”

SIU Law students have been able to benefit from this partnership as well.  2L Jacie McDole interviewed Marissa Sands, a 2012 graduate of SIU Law, about her recent experiences, including work with MLPSI, as a volunteer and extern at Land of Lincoln. 

Sands said that although she learned many beneficial skills and took this opportunity to become more comfortable in the courtroom, learning how to interact with various people was the greatest skill she gained. 

The excitement in Sands’ voice grew when she spoke of interacting with the clients.  “A client interview is different from a class experience because it is different when you do not know the person to begin with.”  She told of how Goffinet, her supervisor, would learn who the client was, and then react based on the client’s individual needs.  Learning how to appropriately react and respond in a situation only comes with experiences like those offered through volunteering and externships, said Sands.

For Sands, her time with Land of Lincoln reminded her that the most important aspect of being a lawyer, and the primary reason why she, like many, chose this profession, is to help other people.  The little things are a big deal to the clients.  “You are giving these people a new life.  You are, essentially, lifting their burdens.”

She said that although volunteering and externships are not necessary, they are incredibly important.  “Especially if you do not know what type of law you want to study or if you are lacking in some area.… It counteracts the doubt you feel in the classroom.”

~Jacie McDole