Georgia State Health Law students demonstrated their resilience in responding to the challenges of the pandemic and took the opportunity to work on legal issues related to COVID-19.
When the pandemic broke out, many students lost their summer internship opportunities due to budget cuts, uncertain court plans, and social distancing mandates. To fill that void, Ana Maria Martinez (JD ’09), President and Co-Founder of the Georgia Latino Law Foundation, created the Summer Virtual Judicial Internship program for law students across the state to gain experience. Eight Georgia State Law students attended. They were matched with judges and mentors of attorneys and conducted novel legal research on a subject that COVID-19 has brought to the operation of the legal system. Wesley Billiot (JD ’22) worked with Judge Linda Cowen at Clayton County State Court. His project investigated whether judges have immunity in the event that a lawyer or participant in court proceedings in the courthouse is exposed to COVID-19.
Yasamine Jalinouszadeh (JD / MSHA ’21), Kate Schiller (JD ’22) and Davynn Brown (JD ’22) participated in the Systemic Justice Project through Harvard Law. The project engaged law students in summer legal research on health inequalities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. As a graduate research fellow with the Georgia Health Policy Center, Jalinouszadeh also worked with policy researchers to produce a working draft of the CARES Act that provided economic aid and relief to COVID-19.
At BakerHostler, Sophia Welf (JD ’20) worked as part of a larger team compiling a list of reliable COVID-19 sources and updates. Welf specifically focused on updates regarding COVID-19 treatments, as well as the various measures each state had taken to slow the spread of the virus.
Baylee Culverhouse (JD / MSHA ’21) spent the spring semester as an intern at MagMutual on a team that developed and implemented strategies to reduce liability for medical practices. “This pandemic will inevitably have long-term negative effects on patient access to care in the coming years – especially for rural hospitals with safety nets that are barely able to stay afloat as they are,” said Culverhouse. “As a field, we need to develop strategies to help troubled health systems recover from COVID-19.”
Students like Liv Devitt (JD ’21) had boots on the ground to help out as Atlanta Legal Aid volunteers during the pandemic. Devitt worked directly with clients to help them get grocery stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and the stimulus check. “By calling customers and talking to them about how they have been affected by the pandemic, I have not only been able to hear what members in my community have been through in the past few months, but also make sure they are aware of and sustaining the public Benefits available to them, ”she said.