community help clinic members

The University of Georgia School of Law is pleased to announce the creation of the Community Health Law Partnership Clinic Fund. The Thorpe family, which includes 2014 alumnus Benjamin W. “Ben” Thorpe and his mother Dr. Barbara Williams, has pledged $350,000 to enable the clinic to build on its tradition of interdisciplinary advocacy at the intersection of immigration status and health.

Last year, more than 100 individuals received substantive legal services with the assistance of law students working in the clinic under the direction of Associate Dean Jason A. Cade. In 2021, the Community HeLP Clinic earned the Clinical Legal Education Association’s national Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case/Project through its partnership with five other clinics for their collective efforts representing women who allegedly endured medical abuse and neglect while in custody.

“We appreciate the opportunity to support the amazing work that the Community HeLP Clinic is already doing on behalf of some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” the Thorpe family said. “The importance of effective advocacy and representation in this area can hardly be overstated, and we are proud to partner with the School of Law to help ensure that this critical work not only continues but expands.”

On a more personal note, Ben added that he was a direct beneficiary of the School of Law's tremendous support for clinical programs when he participated in a yearlong clinic as a third-year law student. “Nothing I did in law school was better preparation for the realities of practice than that clinic, and I want future UGA Law graduates to share in that experience. That they can serve their own career development while directly serving clients who might not otherwise receive representation is a testament to the School of Law's extraordinary value as an institution. Our family is honored to invest in that mission,” he said.

The funding provided by the Thorpe family will assist the clinic with its operations and allow for the hiring of post-graduate and summer fellows to help broaden the clinic’s impact and provide more learning opportunities for law students.  

Notably, this gift is in addition to the scholarship the Thorpe family established in 2019 in memory of Ben’s father and Barbara’s husband, Lawrence I. Thorpe. The scholarship is making a difference in the lives of students who have demonstrated a “meaningful intent to use the law to address pressing environmental challenges.”

"I would like to thank Ben and Barbara for their continued support. As we seek to redefine what it means to be a great national public law school, the provision of world-class, hands-on and purpose-driven educational experiences for our students – in addition to scholarships – is of utmost importance," Dean Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge said. "Offerings like the Community HeLP Clinic provide transformational experiences for our students as they gain valuable skills while learning how they can benefit society as members of the legal profession. This powerful combination has the ability to make our students stronger and more valuable leaders for the future of our state and society."

Pictured above are 2023-24 Community HeLP Clinic members:  (l. to r.) Mahi Patel, Staff Attorney Kristen Shepherd, Anna Gowen, Stanley Maciejczyk, Ariyah Jones, Caitlyn Watson, Associate Dean & Clinic Director Jason Cade, Hope Skypek, Carolina Mares and Joe Colley.