ASL has partnered with Ballad Health, Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, Southwest Virginia Legal Aid, and Legal Aid of East Tennessee Legal Aid to form a medical-legal partnership (MLP) to help those in need get legal assistance. A multidisciplinary team, including ASL students who are supervised by ASL faculty and lawyers from Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society and Legal Aid of East Tennessee work together to address the unmet legal needs of Ballad patients which create or exacerbate problems that have an impact on overall patient health.
Del. Terry Kilgore, chairman of the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, represents Virginia’s 1st District and was instrumental in getting state approval for the MLP. “This partnership will be a great asset for our region,” he said. “The legal help people receive will make a huge impact on their health. I’m extremely appreciative of the Appalachian School of Law and Ballad Health for stepping up to create this service for our community.”
Medical-legal partnerships can:
- Assist patients in getting emergency financial relief available through unemployment benefits and the CARES Act and in avoiding housing evictions, which were suspended under federal and state laws
- Help eliminate barriers to patients obtaining lifesaving medications
- Assist patients who are disabled from work in obtaining disability benefits, including Medicare or Medicaid or other insurance coverage
- Appeal insurance coverage denials
- Help people with complex conditions avoid repeated trips to the emergency room by helping secure housing and affordable medicines
- Connect patients and families to critical resources that affect health, such as food banks, domestic violence shelters and suicide prevention assistance
The ASL students, supervising attorneys, and ASL and Virginia Tech professors participating in the MLP have received training on Ballad Health’s HIPAA privacy and security policies.
Ballad patients interested in services are welcome to call us at 276-244-1289. We can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Suzan Moore, Executive Director
Lucy McGee, ASL’s Dean of Experiential Learning
Dr. Matthew Loos, Ballad’s Chief Academic Officer
Dr. Quinton Nottingham, Professor of Business Analytics at VT’s Pamplin College of Business
Joey Carico, Executive Director of Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society
Deborah Yeomans-Barton, Deputy Director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee
The ASL MLP is made possible by generous grants from Ballad Health and the Virginia Law Foundation.
The Virginia Law Foundation promotes philanthropy through the rule of law, access to justice and law-related education.
MLP Clinic Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is a medical-legal partnership?
Generally, a medical-legal partnership (MLP) pairs healthcare providers with legal practitioners to diagnose and address unmet legal needs that negatively affect the health outcomes of individuals. These programs seek to address problems such as access and affordability, more broadly described as social determinants of health. Examples of social determinants of health include housing, nutrition, health insurance, etc. MLPs are designed to address the social determinants of health and improve health outcomes for low-income individuals.
- Can I participate in the MLP Clinic as a 1L?
Yes, 1Ls who perform well academically can participate in the MLP Clinic on a volunteer or externship basis. Because 1Ls will not be eligible for student practice certification in any jurisdiction served by the MLP, first-year students’ ability to participate is limited to observation, research, intake, and shadowing.
- How does ASL’s MLP differ from other MLPs?
ASL’s MLP sets itself apart by serving low-income patients in multiple jurisdictions. We partner with attorneys in Virginia and Tennessee to provide services across our region.
ASL’s MLP is also producing data-driven results by partnering with a data analytics team through VT’s Pamplin College of Business. By assessing metrics from the healthcare and legal providers, our data analytics partner will facilitate the understanding of how best to address the social determinants of health.
- Are there any prerequisites to participate in the MLP Clinic?
Students are required to be in good academic standing and must have taken or be currently enrolled in the Poverty, Health and Law course.
- As a law student, what will be my role in the program?
There are multiple ways law students can participate with the MLP Clinic. Students may volunteer in the Clinic or may participate for course credit either as an extern or practicum clinical student. Students who have successfully completed half of their legal studies can apply for limited practice certification in Tennessee. Following 2L year, students may be eligible for the same in Virginia. For those students who are qualified for student practice and who have already completed the volunteer and credit aspects of Clinic participation may apply for a Senior Internship position. Senior Internship positions may be paid.
- Does the program require me to travel outside Grundy? This program will require students to travel to healthcare facilities to complete patient intake and to the appropriate courthouses for any in-person hearings when necessary. However, most of the MLP work can be done remotely. The MLP Suite located on ASL’s Main Campus in the Booth Center.
- Do I receive credit for participating in the program?
Students can participate in the program as an extern or for upper-level practicum credit. These roles allow students to gain course credit for graduation while participating with attorneys and clients and in real cases.
- Is this something I can do over the summer?
Yes, the program runs year-round. Qualifying students are encouraged to apply to participate in the MLP Clinic during the summer.
- Can the program satisfy the externship requirement?
Yes, students who are in good academic standing may apply for an Externship position with the Clinic. For more specific details, reach out to Lucy McGee, Dean of Experiential Learning.
- What professional development opportunities can this program provide?
This program offers a wide range of professional development opportunities.
First, Clinical participation offers students the ability to work with clients. This client interaction develops the groundwork necessary for establishing and maintaining attorney-client relationships. The ability to work with actual cases and clients helps students develop practical skills needed to provide the best service to the client.
Further, this program allows students to gain valuable experience working with fellow students, professors, and attorneys in Tennessee and Virginia. This allows students to apply the theoretical knowledge from the classroom to everyday practice. No attorney approaches a problem or case the same way another attorney might. Having a team of attorneys offering different strategies to help law students figure out how they want to handle situations that come up in practice can facilitate student understanding of how they will approach their professional career with clients and co-workers. In short, participation in the MLP Clinic offers students hands-on experience that can build your skills and resumes.
Finally, the opportunity for students to network with healthcare and legal providers should not be underestimated. The interdisciplinary nature of the MLP Clinic can offer students exposure to career options and training that students would be unlikely to access without this clinical experience.
Frequently Asked Questions—Answered by an ASL Clinic Student:
- Have you seen your work make an impact on any patients? If so, can you provide an example?
Through follow-up conversations, it is clear we have been able to help families during their time of need. For example, we assisted a client that needed a power of attorney and will after a recent cancer diagnosis. Once those documents were finalized, they returned and asked for additional assistance applying for social security disability. Having the patient return to ask additional questions, really showed me that they appreciated our assistance.
- What is it like to work with pro bono lawyers?
The pro bono lawyers we have on this team are amazing and willing to help you grow as a lawyer however possible. There are numerous occasions where they have spent additional time with me and other students to ensure we understood why we were doing what we were doing and any other concerns we had. Further, being able to work aside these lawyers, you get first-hand knowledge on how they handle certain issues and different aspects of cases.
- Has MLP participation at all changed your professional goals after law school?
The MLP has broadened my career prospects. Prior to participation, I was solely pursuing environmental law, but through the program I have learned that there are so many ways to help people, and this is an amazing way to do so. The MLP allows you to help others in different facets and in different legal fields, always providing a challenge, but also offering a great reward knowing you helped someone in dire need of assistance.
- In what way would you improve the current MLP program?
I would love to see more law students involved and taking advantage of this amazing opportunity.
- What do you expect to come from the data analytics piece of the program?
The data analytics should show the needs commonly seen in Southwest Virginia and Eastern Tennessee that may be addressed in different platforms to better provide support for these communities. For more information of data analytics, I recommend speaking with Executive Director, Suzan Moore.
- Have you learned anything about healthcare through this program?
Yes, being part of this program has expanded my knowledge in a wide range of fields, including issues associated with health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, Power of Attorney, and Conservatorships. The program has also helped correlate some legal concerns that are exacerbated by health concerns.