A Model for Interdisciplinary Clinical Education: Medical and Legal Professionals Learning and Working Together to Promote Public Health


  • Lisa Bliss Georgia State University College of Law
  • Sylvia Caley Georgia State University College of Law
  • Robert Pettignano Emory University School of Medicine




Interdisciplinary training for professionals is becoming more common in higher education. Educators are beginning to understand the benefit of jointly training students in complex and interrelated skills that improve and complement the primary skills needed to succeed in a particular profession. Legal educators have recognized the value of encouraging flexible, collaborative thinkers who become better problem-solvers through interdisciplinary learning. Many of these are also coming to realize the importance of interdisciplinary training as a component of readiness for professional practice. For many law students, law school clinics are the first opportunity they have to learn legal skills and to engage in problem-solving for real clients. This experiential learning opportunity is often powerful and transformative, and can imprint skills, values, and practice habits that stay with students throughout their professional careers. Incorporating interdisciplinary learning opportunities into the law school clinic experience affords opportunities for co-learning, holistic problem-solving, and community building during young professionals’ formative years. Learning to be a lawyer in the context of an interdisciplinary law school clinic combines the experience of working with real clients and academic inquiry into the nature of the lawyering process itself and the ethical and fundamental practices of other professionals. Clinics serve as incubators for professional development. They provide opportunities for reflection on the practice of law, professionalism, social justice, and countless skills that help ready students for the profession of law. The HeLP Legal Services Clinic at Georgia State University College of Law aims to create an interdisciplinary dimension to such practice and inquiry, and thus influence the way in which the professional students from the law and medicine disciplines work together as learners and future professionals.