Medical-legal partnerships

Program basics

  • Integration of legal services into health care settings
  • Health care providers refer patients to onsite legal assistance (including legal aid attorneys, private practice lawyers operating on a pro bono basis, and law professors and students)
  • Patients are typically screened for legal needs in waiting rooms

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

Community-wide

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Improved access to legal services, patient health outcomes, and well-being
  • Improved short-term and long-term health by reducing stress and improving patient adherence to medical treatment
  • Removes barriers to health care for low-income families by addressing cost and insurance concerns and by increasing access to preventative care and vaccinations
  • Increased access to safe, affordable housing
  • Increased access to social services and supports
  • Increased patient comfort engaging with legal services

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Medical Legal Partnerships are enhanced when they work with health center social workers, which can allow for better identification and engagement with patients.
  • Programs that screen patients for their legal needs as part of health treatment can ensure continued access to care, continued treatment, and better health outcomes. Including legal screening in health screening also makes for more efficient participant identification and smoother processes for hospital and program staff.
  • Lack of permanent funding, reliance on volunteers, and difficulty getting appropriate reimbursements for health care appointments all present challenges to program sustainability.

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