Every day families suffer medical ailments due to the conditions of their home or their workplace. Many of these illnesses can be treated through standard medical care but can not be remedied without further attention to the root cause of the problem. Medical-Legal Partnerships (MLP) address this issue by merging medical care with either direct legal assistance or institutional and systemic policy change.
The ABA recently released a new publication entitled A Breath of Hope, the first of a series of books incorporating concepts of legal literacy into generally accessible learning materials. The book was conceived and developed by Tony Barash, former Director of the ABA Center for Pro Bono, while a Fellow at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative; authored by Jo S. Kittinger, and illustrated by Chuck Galey. It illustrates one way MLPs assist low-income families suffering from ailments caused by poor living conditions. This children’s book, with its easy to follow storyline and delightful illustration, focuses on the plight of a small girl suffering with asthma because of a landlord’s neglect of an apartment contaminated with mold. Torn between being evicted and the health of their daughter, the family is connected to a legal representative by the doctor who cares for the child. A Breath of Hope serves as an excellent vehicle for informing local community members and their children about the assistance available to them. The text is also perfect for use in hospital or institutional settings to explain the MLP concept. Each book concludes with information regarding renter’s rights, MLPs and legal services available.
The Medical-Legal Partnership Network, a voluntary affiliation that signals participation in a variety of activities, consists of physicians, nurses, social workers, attorneys and paralegals partnered in more than 235 health institutions nationwide at 83 MLP sites. These partnerships serve children, the elderly, cancer patients, pregnant mothers, the reentry community and other vulnerable populations. To find out more about MLPs and the many pro bono opportunities available in this field visit the ABA Medical-Legal Partnership Pro Bono Project or the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.