The Massachusetts Bar Association and the Medical-Legal
Partnership Massachusetts network have joined forces to create a
new program, the MBA Pro Bono Prescription. The pioneering
initiative brings together volunteer attorneys and medical
professionals to promote the health and well-being of low-income
patients through legal advocacy.
"The MBA is particularly pleased and proud of this joint venture
between the MBA and Medical-Legal Partnerships in Massachusetts.
Medical-legal partnerships serve a critical role in providing
services to residents whose health is impacted by social and
environmental factors," said MBA Vice President Jeffrey N.
Catalano, a partner at Todd & Weld LLP in Boston. "Through this
program, MBA volunteers can strengthen health care teams and
support low-income patients by lending their expertise and service
in such legal areas as substandard housing and domestic violence
The House of Delegates, the MBA's governing body, unanimously
passed a resolution in January endorsing MLPs, which laid the
ground for creating the partnership. The MBA's support follows
approval from the American Medical Association, which passed a
similar resolution aimed at the medical profession in June 2010.
The American Bar Association passed a resolution endorsing the
expansion of medical-legal partnerships throughout the legal
profession four years ago.
"It is well established that many health problems are created or
exacerbated by unmet legal needs, and this program seeks to
increase the supply of lawyers who can be 'prescribed' as part of
the treatment plan for our commonwealth's most vulnerable
patients," said Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston Executive
Director Samantha J. Morton.
The MBA Pro Bono Prescription will support patients by providing
direct legal services to them - services triggered by
referrals from health care teams to the local MLP site. Each local
MLP site, most often housed with a local or regional legal services
organization, will serve as the connector between the health care
team, the volunteer attorney and the patient.
The program's first open house was hosted June 21 by Mirick,
O'Connell, DeMallie & Lougee LLP in Worcester and co-sponsored
by the MBA, Family Advocates of Central Massachusetts (FACM) and
Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston, the founding site of the
national MLP Network.
"Since 2003, FACM has been partnering with health care providers
to address the social and environmental factors that negatively
impact health," FACM Legal Director Valerie Zolezzi-Wyndham said.
"Over the past eight years, the need for FACM's services has
increased beyond the program's capacity. The MBA Pro Bono
Prescription provides an exciting opportunity to expand FACM's
collaborative model to better meet the needs of the low-income
population of Worcester County."