Schools of Law, Social Work Partner on Internship

Alisha Ferguson and D’lorah Hughes
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Alisha Ferguson and D’lorah Hughes

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas School of Law and School of Social Work have come together to form an innovative interdisciplinary program. The newly formed law and social work services program brings graduate social work students to the law school’s juvenile justice program to participate in internships.

The social work interns assist student attorneys who are representing juvenile clients free of charge. The interns focus on helping the law students better understand the complex issues which their juvenile clients may be facing, and they offer general and emotional support to law students making the sometimes difficult transition into their legal careers.  

The interdisciplinary program is the result of a collaboration between social work professor Alishia Ferguson and law professor D’lorah Hughes. The two met at a new faculty luncheon in the summer of 2008 and found they shared a passion for one another’s field of expertise. They began planning the program that day. In the years since, they have taught in each other’s classes and have begun producing scholarly work on the program.

“Juvenile justice requires looking at the criminal case as well as at the juvenile's family and social situation,” said Hughes. “This will challenge the social work intern to learn to address both the legal aspects of a matter as well as the needs of the individual child and her family. It is our hope to eventually expand the internship program to benefit other programs within the Legal Clinic.”

“The program gives graduate social work students real-life experience,” said Ferguson. “It also ups the level of awareness with lawyers about the good that social workers can do.”

The co-founders expect that many more graduate students will take part in the internship in the years to come.

“I applaud professors Ferguson and Hughes on creating this innovative program, which is benefitting not only social work and law students, but the young clients we serve,” said Cynthia Nance, dean of the School of Law. “Interdisciplinary programs like this leverage the good work being done throughout our campus and provide even greater public service to our community.”


Andy Albertson, director of communications
Office of Economic Development


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