When HeLP Clinic Supervising Attorney Christina Scott (J.D.’18) takes on a case, she’s ready to fight for her client as long as it takes.
“Our clients need to know the legal system is available to all of them,” Scott said. “I want them to feel empowered, to be heard, and to be told yes for once.”
In March, Scott and the HeLP Clinic won a $17,400 judgment for a client who was experiencing unsuitable housing conditions. The judge also awarded $17,200 in attorney’s fees—the largest attorney’s fees award for the Health Law Partnership and a first for the HeLP Clinic.
Scott, who joined the clinic in January 2022, brought with her the difficult case she’d been working on as an attorney at Atlanta Legal Aid. After more than a year of requesting repairs with no response from the landlord, Scott and her client filed suit in DeKalb County Superior Court. There were two defendants in the case, and a settlement was reached with one. The second defendant was unresponsive to multiple contact attempts and failed to respond to the court summons. In return, the judge set a hearing—giving Scott only two days to prepare.
“It was exhausting, but it was amazing to see the teamwork that went into getting ready,” Scott said. “The students did really impressive work in such a tight timeframe. Even though they have their own caseloads, they wanted to help.”
Georgia State Law students Nadia Hawk (J.D.’23), Mark Hammontree (J.D.’23), Sam Hooper (J.D. ’22), Kelsey Blume (J.D.’23), and Tiffany Nanguy (J.D.’22) helped with different parts of the case.
Hooper, who hopes to work in public interest law—specifically housing—when she graduates in May, helped with researching the process to request attorney’s fees.
“I found the work rewarding, spending hours poring over research,” Hooper said. “I was excited to see that we received such a large judgment. Because this is a nonprofit clinic, that money will go directly toward helping other Georgia families.”
Hooper said housing cases are important because housing is a “social determinant of health.”
“That means that everything from substandard living conditions to eviction threats negatively impacts tenants’ health, especially children,” she said. “Housing is a fundamental necessity, and too many Georgians struggle to maintain adequate housing because of a lack of affordability, illegal evictions, and some landlords’ failure to remedy substandard housing.”
Although it was a great win for the client and the clinic, the fight isn’t over just yet. There’s still the matter of finding the defendant to collect the money, which Scott and some of the students are continuing to work on. The attorney’s fees, once collected, will go to the Health Law Partnership.
As a supervising attorney, Scott wants her students to experience the same supportive environment she had as a student in the HeLP Clinic. When the opportunity to join the clinic arose, Scott knew it was the ideal position for her. Before becoming a lawyer, she taught undergraduate English and literature for more than 20 years.
“I always wanted to get back to academia,” she said. “I love to learn and know things, and just want to share with others the things I’ve learned.”
She introduced a Writing for Clinics class in the Spring 2022 semester, combining her passion for writing and the law.
“Writing is fundamental to every career. And in a clinic like ours, writing is something practical and very fast that has to happen in a real-world setting. When we write a letter to an opposing party or a school or a doctor – it is the face of the clinic. If it’s not perfect, it doesn’t reflect well on the seriousness of what we’re doing,” Scott said.
Associate Dean of Experiential Education and Clinical Programs Lisa Radtke Bliss said the clinic is thrilled to have Scott back as a supervising attorney.
“She is a creative and tenacious lawyer and a great role model for our students. She practiced law with the Health Law Partnership, so she brings specialized expertise in medical-legal collaboration. This case result is reflective of her superb lawyering skills,” Bliss said.
Written by: Stacey L. Evans (B.A. ’02)