Medical-legal partnerships1 integrate the unique expertise of lawyers into healthcare settings to help clinicians, case managers and social workers address structural problems at the root of certain health inequities. Specifically, lawyers-in-residence (often from civil legal aid organizations or law schools) work with patients to resolve social and environmental circumstances that (1) contribute to health disparities and (2) can be remedied through civil law, such as housing, food insecurity and immigration status. Medical-legal partnerships can also leverage their expertise to advance changes to state and local policies that have the potential to improve patient health and reduce healthcare costs.
Studies show2 that using legal expertise to address health-related social needs reduces the frequency of hospital admissions among people with chronic illnesses, improves medication adherence, reduces stress/improves mental health status and lowers healthcare spending on high-cost, high-need patients. Additionally, a national survey of healthcare organizations that participate in medical-legal partnerships revealed that 38% of clinicians felt that the partnership improved their ability to perform “at the top of their license.”
1. Home Page, National Center for Medical Legal Partnership (2019).
2. "Impact," National Center for Medical Legal Partnership (2019).