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Robert Franklin ’18 is utilizing Albany Law School’s partnership with its neighbor, the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College, to work toward
dual degrees in law and bioethics. In the future, he wishes to use these two institutions to explore a career in either legal aid or medical malpractice. As a part of this unique program, he is able to take classes at both schools, learning with both legal and medical professionals.
“I first realized I was interested in bioethics after an applied health class I took at Albany Law. They had an ethics council at the hospital and also used actors to make the medical situation feel real. It was a great training experience to work with professional actors who understand how patient-care decisions affect the law,” Franklin said.
“I want to combine knowledge of law and medicine to ensure that patients are making informed decisions about their health.”
Franklin came in as a law student and decided to apply to the bioethics program during his 1L year. Since Albany Medical College and Albany Law School are within walking distance of one another, it is easy for him to take classes at both schools.
He selected the joint J.D./M.S. in Bioethics in part because his father is a physician, and he was exposed to the health care industry at an early age. Franklin has grown to value both fields and sees a benefit to having strong communication between lawyers and doctors, which is why he seeks to immerse himself in both areas. He believes that the roles of attorneys and physicians are changing, and that better communication will result in the best outcome for patients.
“I want to combine knowledge of law and medicine to ensure that patients are making informed decisions about their health. Medicine is a field that’s been around but is constantly reinventing itself. Attorneys need to be knowledgeable in both fields in order to make good decisions. Lawyers and doctors need to talk and be generous with their information,” Franklin said.
Franklin advocates for his clients to make sure they have all of the information needed to make a case for social security benefits. While Franklin works toward the completion of his duel degrees, he also spends time helping individuals with disability as part of his job at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY). Admiring New York State’s extensive legal aid programs long before entering law school, he chose Albany after living in Tampa Bay, Fla., for most of his life. Within LASNNY, Franklin does work in the disability advocacy program where he assists people in social security applications and appeals.
Franklin advocates for his clients to make sure they have all of the information needed to make a case for social security benefits.
“My clients are either sick or have a mental disability so it’s hard for them to do some things in regard to accessing social security on their own. They may not be aware of the whole process or they have trouble compiling their files if they’re particularly long,” Franklin said.
Franklin helps by gathering medical records from his clients’ physicians, compiling their records and submitting all the evidence necessary to prove that they need social security. Franklin advocates for his clients to make sure they have all of the information needed to make a case for social security benefits.
This is not the first legal aid program he has been a part of. His first exposure came at 19 years old as a part of an internship in Florida. He has worked in legal aid programs in a number of different areas since then but favors New York because of the variety of services given to each client. Within LASNNY there are services for housing, unemployment benefits, consumer protection and fraud, divorce, family issues, and disabilities advocacy.
After being a part of the debate team in high school and participating in national competitions, he knew at 16 years old that he wanted his career to involve law. He discovered the Capital District and Albany Law School while he was attending Temple University in Philadelphia. After visiting a friend who attended the University at Albany he realized he loved the city and could picture himself at the law school. It wasn’t until this past May, when he was accepted into the dual major program, that he seriously considered bioethics — as well as law — to be a part of his future.
He has a field placement this fall with the Office of the Albany County Attorney. There, he will work in the Department of Social Services providing adults with protective services. He is looking forward to his 2L year, when he will be fully immersed in programs at Albany Law School and Albany Medical College.