The OPIA Blog

Doctors and Lawyers forming uncommon partnership

According to this recent NY Times article, an all-too rare but growing partnership between doctors and lawyers has been growing in various parts of the country. The purpose of these medical-legal partnerships? To simultaneously address the serious health concerns of the poor and connect them with legal aid to redress these health issues.

Doctors across the U.S. are referring patients that have had health issues brought on by housing conditions or a denial of food stamps, for example, to legal aid organizations; in effect, creating this seemingly obvious but uncommon partnership. The partnership was started by Barry Zuckerman, a doctor and professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine, and while the movement is still young, the partnership could have profoundly positive effects in the future. “The partnerships do more than provide quick access to legal aid, Dr. Zuckerman said. They alter perspectives for both the medical and legal professions, as physicians become better at spotting underlying threats to health, and lawyers engage in what he called “preventive law.”