American Bar Association Medical-Legal Partnerships Pro Bono Support Project
"To improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in partnership with the medical community through the work of volunteer attorneys."
Medical providers and lawyers are the ideal team to help low-income families who face legal problems related to their basic needs such as housing and income. Medical-legal partners address (MLP) the social determinants of health that create hardships for vulnerable populations through the integration of free legal services in the healthcare setting. MLPs currently serve patients at nearly 200 hospitals and health centers across the country providing direct legal services to patients; training and education to healthcare providers; and a platform for systemic advocacy.
MLPs draw on the expertise of community partners to create a holistic approach to patients care. Partners from the health and legal communities include civil legal aid agencies, law schools, pro bono law firms , hospitals, health centers, medical schools, and residency programs. MLPs train healthcare staff to screen and triage potential legal issues that have a negative impact on health, such as substandard housing conditions that lead to chronic asthma, and intervene before a legal emergency arises. After a potential legal problem has been identified, the healthcare provider refers the patient to the MLP lawyer at the hospital or health clinic just as a patient would be referred to a cardiologist for a heart problem. The lawyer can be either a MLP staff attorney or a pro bono attorney. Depending on the MLP and the patient’s legal needs, services can range from advice and brief service at a monthly legal clinic to full representation on one or more legal issues including housing, access to utilities, immigration, education, public benefits, education, guardianship, wills and family law.
ABA Medical-Legal Partnerships Pro Bono Support Project
In 2007, ABA passed a resolution in support of medical-legal partnership. The resolution encourages members of the legal profession to work with the healthcare community and social service organizations to identify and resolve legal issues that have a detrimental effect on health and well-being. After the adoption of the resolution, the ABA created the ABA MLP Project to further its commitment to MLP. Click Here for ABA Resolution
The primary goal of the ABA MLP Project is to increase the capacity of healthcare institutions to address health-harming legal issues by increasing the availability of volunteer attorneys. Additionally, the ABA MLP Project works with national medical and legal organizations to promote the MLP model through policy and initiatives. Working in tandem with the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, resulted in the adoption of policy in support of the MLP model by the American Medical Association (AMA).
The ABA MLP Project is a joint project of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, the Health Law Section, the AIDS Coordinating Committee and the ABA Center on Children and the Law, funded by ABA Enterprise Fund resources to coordinate an ABA-based national MLP pro bono support initiative.
American Medical Association Resolution
|American Medical Association Passes Resolution to Support Medical-Legal Partnerships|
The American Medical Association (AMA) passed new policy to support Medical-Legal Partnerships earlier this week at the AMA Annual Meeting. The Resolution encourages physicians to work with lawyers, social workers and nurses to improve the health and well-being of their patients. The Resolution states that the AMA should work with physician groups and other stakeholder organizations to 1) educate physicians on the impact of unmet legal needs on the health of their patients and 2) provide physicians, hospitals and health centers with information on medical-legal partnerships.
Press Release ABA Response
Report from AMA Board of Trustees AMA News