The Health Law Partnership: A Medical-Legal Partnership Strategically Designed to Provide a Coordinated Approach to Public Health Legal Services, Education, Advocacy, Evaluation, Research, and Scholarship
Journal of Legal Medicine, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2014
34 Pages Posted: 3 May 2015 Last revised: 17 Jul 2015
Date Written: 2014
Low-income children, especially those with chronic disease and other health issues, are among the most vulnerable members of society. The Health Law Partnership, a medical-legal partnership (MLP), was developed to address the legal needs of low-income children and their families living in Georgia and who receive healthcare services from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. HeLP's creators understood the importance of proactively addressing the social determinants of children's health, many of which have legal antecedents and result from illness and health-related complications caused by socioeconomic factors. Four attorneys saw the close link between poverty and poor health, and understood that the law could be used as a tool to help address the devastating effects that social, economic, and environmental problems have on the health of children and their families. To address these effects, they established HeLP. Their goal was to proactively address the legal needs of low-income children. These attorneys embraced the concept of MLP as a way of promoting the health of the community, by both addressing and preventing some of the barriers to good health, and they invited medical professionals to join them. They created an MLP to have maximum impact in four specific areas: (1) direct delivery of public health legal services; (2) education of professional students in multiple disciplines and education of professionals within the healthcare system; (3) advocacy on matters affecting public health; and (4) evaluation, research, and scholarship relating to the impact and efficacy of MLPs and other related topics. This article explains HeLP's four-pronged approach to MLP designed by the three institutional community partners, explores the intentions and benefits of each area, and provides case studies illustrative of the four programmatic components of HeLP.
Keywords: medical-legal partnership, interprofessional education, legal education, experiential education, clinical legal education, poverty, health disparity, public health, legal services, children's health, social determinants of health, health law, interdisciplinary, interprofessional
JEL Classification: I18, I30, K32, K39, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation