New alumnus honored for his clinical work at Wayne Law

As a first-year law student in 2013, Steven Knox led a team to research the nation’s new Affordable Care Act, so he could help previously uninsured cancer patients understand their benefits.

For this effort and many others, the 2015 Wayne State University Law School alumnus was honored with the Outstanding Clinical Student Award by the Clinical Legal Education Association.

“Steve’s work on the project with a constant stream of new and shifting information led to concrete answers and advice for both oncology patients and healthcare providers,” Adjunct Assistant Professor Kathryn Smolinski, director of Wayne Law’s Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic, wrote in her letter nominating Knox for the award.

The award is given to one law student from each law school who has excelled in a clinical course. Knox excelled in two clinical courses: Wayne Law’s Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic and the Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic, where he went on to serve as an extern for two more semesters.

“He is a fierce advocate of clinical training,” Smolinski wrote. “He was an incredible leader in the clinics, especially for the less experienced students, taking risks in the classroom and cases, willing to volunteer to be first in many scenarios. Besides doing excellent case work, he was one of the best students at approaching the work from a team effort. He identified needs and solutions.”

Knox, a Mount Clemens resident with a bachelor’s degree in social work from Oakland University, said he enjoyed being able to come to the aid of people in need through his clinic work.
Said Knox: “For both clinics, the clients face the same kinds of questions, which are faced by all people without access to resources: Where will I live? How will I care for my children? What will I eat? Will I get better? Will I have to move back to the country that persecuted me?

“It was a privilege to help in some small way. My favorite aspect was helping folks with a legal issue in the context of the larger struggles they face in their daily lives.”

Knox is preparing for the bar exam and working as a research assistant for Wayne Law Assistant Professor Kirsten Carlson. Besides his extensive clinical work, he also served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Law in Society and as chair of Keith Students for Civil Rights during his law school tenure.

What did he gain personally from working in the clinics? His reply was simple: “An answer to the question of why I came to law school.”