The Medical-Legal Partnership is a collaboration between the School of Law and the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Students participating in the MLP provide free legal assistance to the low-income patients of the Department of Family Medicine and other medical partners, under the supervision of experienced MLP faculty and staff. Students are given the opportunity to conduct intake interviews, develop case strategies, conduct legal research, prepare legal documents, and provide representation in administrative hearings and court (if eligible for a Rule 719 license).
Representation is focused on the following “I-HELP” priority areas in which legal services can have the greatest impact on the health of patients:
- Income supports
- Housing and utilities
- Education and employment
- Legal status (immigration)
- Personal and family stability
In addition to direct legal services, students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with the faculty and staff of the Department of Family Medicine and to participate in joint class sessions with medical students and students from other health disciplines.
Learn more about the medical-legal partnership model in this New York Times article:
When poverty makes you sick, a lawyer can be the cure
Advocating for health: Jaime Whitt, L'15
As a student seeking a dual degree in law and health services administration, Jaime Whitt identified the Medical-Legal Partnership as an opportunity to bridge her interests while making a difference in the lives of clients. She has not been disappointed. Whitt advocated for an elderly patient in public housing whose apartment was very cold. Instead of addressing the problem head on, the patient’s landlord had advised her to buy space heaters and run her oven with the door open. “In situations like that, we as attorneys can send a letter or pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, you can’t do this. We will go to bat for this client if we have to, but it really shouldn’t be necessary,’” said Whitt, L'15. “Now physicians in the Department of Family Medicine can feel more confident sending that patient back home.”
Whitt sees great value in the medical-legal partnership model, which takes a preventative approach to pinpointing potential legal barriers to health and resolving those issues before they escalate into full-fledged legal problems and health emergencies. “If you can head off those problems at the pass, it helps everybody – not just the client, but our entire health care economy,” she said. “I think it’s really interesting work.”
Students can apply to enroll for the fall or spring semester (3 credits) or summer sessions (1-4 credits per session) and work out of the MLP office located at the University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, Kan.
Download an application
Interested students should visit www.medical-legalpartnership.org to gain a better understanding of the medical-legal partnership model.