Publication: UGA Today

Students in assistant professor Jason Cade’s Community Health Law Partnership clinic gain practical experience providing legal services to low-income patients at community health centers.

What are your favorite courses and why?

I teach two courses and love them both. One is an intensive two-semester clinic called the “Community Health Law Partnership” (also known as “Community HeLP”). Working under my supervision (I’m a licensed attorney in Georgia), each year eight law students in the clinic provide a variety of civil legal services to low-income patients at local community health centers serving Athens and surrounding counties. The students gain deep experience with real-life lawyering in this course, representing individuals in all aspects of their cases. Many of our clients are facing crisis situations and all of them are in poverty. Every semester the cases are different, which means I have to be very flexible in keeping the curriculum relevant. I structure the clinic so that students continually practice and reflect on skills and experiences, learning collaboratively from each other’s challenges as well as their successes. The students gain tools in the process that I think translate to almost any kind of legal work. Just as importantly, they tend to end up embracing the core value that all clients deserve outstanding representation—including, and perhaps especially, those who cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Teaching the doctrinal immigration law course is very rewarding, too. That subject matter aligns with my primary research areas, and I love having discussions with students about how well the goals underlying the immigration system align with the on-the-ground realities of immigration law and procedure.

What interests you about your field?

Although the Community HeLP clinic engages in many aspects of poverty law, my primary area of research and practice has been immigration law. As a scholar, I try to make sense of the roles and responsibilities of the many officials who implement the sprawling, rigid immigration code and to think about the complexities of how we use immigration law to define our national community. I’m particularly interested in examining how our legal institutions operate for noncitizens who encounter the criminal justice system or who lack a path to lawful status under current law.

As a still-practicing lawyer, many things interest me about immigration law. You have to be very creative and you have to be a good storyteller in this field. The work typically involves figuring out solutions to complex problems and helping clients effectively communicate their stories in ways that are accurate, compelling and legally significant. Also, when you have success in an immigration case, frequently you’ve achieved life-changing results for your client, which is very gratifying.

Read the full interview