When you don’t know, ask!

By: David Hymel, Fall 2018 HeLP Legal Services Clinic Intern

Know your limits. Law students, like everyone else, have many limits. One limit is time, another is patience, and another—which we often do not care to admit—is knowledge. When we run into knowledge limitations, our instincts tell us to make something up that sounds a lot like knowledge, but is in fact smoke in the wind. In the HeLP Clinic, law students handle cases involving complex medical conditions, symptoms, and terminology. Personally, when I run into a medical term I do not understand, I usually convince myself that I can put on a cape and become a medical expert. I hop on google, read WebMD, and conclude that “Ah yes, that is a classic Hematological Malignancy.” Smoke in the wind. Meanwhile, there are walking, talking encyclopedias of medical knowledge in the room next door from the Morehouse School of Medicine. Here’s what I‘ve learned: when you don’t know, ask. It works!

I’ll give you an example. The HeLP Clinic takes in a lot of cases involving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify for SSI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) states that the applicant must be disabled. In order to be disabled, a person must have a legitimate physical or mental disability that causes serious limitations in his or her life.

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