Interprofessional Center

for Counseling & Legal Services

Our Story

The Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services (IPC) provides independent and collaborative services to underserved populations, including persons commonly described as the "working poor" – folks who are working hard but nonetheless often falling behind. Services are provided by students in training under the close supervision of licensed professionals.

Independent and Collaborative

Services are "independent" in the sense that each of the main components of the IPC Law, Social Work, and Psychology - is a free standing program that offers clients services from its own strengths. A legal client of Legal Services Clinic, for instance, may be served just fine by a lawyer representing her in a nursing home discharge hearing, and have no need for other services. A person seeking psychotherapy might meet regularly with a clinical social worker or a psychologist, and have no need for the services of a lawyer.

Often, however, people need assistance in complex challenges of life that could best be addressed by professionals from a variety of areas. An asylum seeker who has been tortured in his home country might need not only a lawyer to get legal immigration status, but a therapist to address the psychological trauma that follows such an experience, as well as a social work case manager to help navigate access to other social and medical services. That’s when interprofessional collaboration comes into play.

The IPC is managed by three Co-Directors, one from each of the professions.


Late 1990s: The University of St. Thomas Graduate School of Professional Psychology and the UST/College of St. Catherine School of Social Work begin discussions about opening a joint counseling clinic to meet community needs.

1999: The University of St. Thomas announces the reopening of the law school.

1999-2001: After the opening of the law school was announced, the Law School’s first dean, David Link, joined in conversation with Dean Barbara Shank (Social Work) and Dean Skip Nolan (Professional Psychology) about the possibility of creating clinical collaboration between the three schools.

Summer 2002: Virgil Wiebe joins the UST faculty as a clinical law professor and Director of Legal Services. New appointed deans Thomas Mengler (Law) and Dr. Jean Birbilis (Graduate Psychology), along with Dean Shank, appoint a planning committee formed from the three schools and other relevant university partners. The committee addresses potential ethical issues arising out of collaborative work, drafts the mission and vision statements of the IPC, and assists in the design of the IPC in downtown Minneapolis.

Summer 2003: Jim Stolz (MSW, LICSW) and Dr. Darryl Goetz (LP) join Virgil Wiebe, the three of them acting as the first Co-Directors of the IPC. Additional law faculty Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds and Professor Jennifer Wright are hired. Kathy Bredesen is hired as the first Office Manager for the Legal Services Clinic.

Fall 2003: The Interprofessional Center opens its doors to students and clients near the UST Minneapolis campus to provide assistance to the underserved and the working poor, including immigrants, the elderly, victims of domestic violence, and persons with chemical dependency. Legal Services Clinic support staff Mary Hernandez and Crixell Suteria (now Shell) join the Center.

Relationships are established with community groups and government agencies to receive client referrals. Law, social work, and psychology students begin serving clients.

July 1, 2004: The Legal Services Clinic of the IPC hires its first law fellows, Natasha Merz (Elder Law Practice Group) and Jennifer Schnell (Family Law Practice Group).

January 2005: Dr. Phil Klees joins the IPC as its second Psychological Services Director. During his tenure at the IPC, he creates the Invited Practioner Scholar series (co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Professional Psychology) to bring seasoned practicing psychologists to UST to share their experiences with other practioners and students.

July 1, 2005: Kathleen Lohmar Exel joins the Legal Services Clinic as a Law Fellow (Immigration Law Practice Group).

May 2006: An interprofessional team of IPC students, fellows and faculty; presents the UST collaborative model of client work at American Association of Law Schools annual conference in New York City.

July 1, 2006: Artika Tyner joins the Legal Services Clinic as a Law Fellow (Family Law Practice Group and later Community Justice Project).

March 2007: Samantha Kleven is appointed Interim Director for Social Work Services.

April 2007: Professor Levy-Pounds, Artika Tyner, and a team of advanced clinic students give a presentation on community policing to Mayor Chris Coleman, Polic Chief John Harrington, and City Attorney.

May 2007: Since opening in August 2003, the IPC collaborates with over 25 community and government agencies to provide extended or brief services to more than 500 individuals, and consults with 20 other agencies in conducting community needs assessments. In the process, the IPC trains over 220 students who log more than 75,000 hours in training and client services.

July 2007: Nick Halbur joins the Legal Services Clinic as a Law Fellow (Elder Law Practice Group). Chitra Vairavan joins the Legal Services Clinic as the Program Coordinator.

The IPC prepares for its fifth year of operation and the roll out of a new practice group, the Community Justice Project.

August 2007: The IPC is proud to announce its new Director of Social Work, George Baboila.

December 2007: The IPC is proud to announce its new Director of Psychological Services, Patricia Stankovitch.

6 Psychology students and 7 Social Work students join the IPC under the supervision of our new Co-Directors. 250 people received legal representation at the Center as of this year.

Summer 2008: Virgil Wiebe teaches in Rome, Italy.

July 2008: The IPC is proud to announce Kathleen Lohmar Exel as Visiting Clinical Professor for the Immigration Law Practice Group for the 2008-2009 year.

Over 400 individuals have received legal and/or counseling services at the IPC as we begin our sixth year of services at the IPC.

Fall 2008: Virgil Wiebe goes on sabbatical for the 2008-2009 year.

Spring 2009: Sarah Brenes joins the Legal Services Clinic as a Law Fellow (Immigration Law Practice Group).

Fall 2009: Karen Freed joins the IPC as a pre-doctoral fellow.

Spring 2010: The IPC adds a new Bankruptcy Law Clinic to its legal services. Laura Orr joins the Legal Services Clinic as a Law Fellow (Elder Law Practice Group). Artika Tyner, Law Fellow for the Community Justice Project, receives a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Leadership.

Fall 2010: Nick Buhr joins the IPC as a pre-doctoral fellow.

Spring 2010: Karen Freed receives her PsyD.

Fall 2009 - Spring 2010: Jennifer L. Wright goes on sabbatical.