August 2024: Standards in Medical-Legal Partnerships

Complex demands of patients’ socially, culturally, and politically situated health needs have given rise to what have become known as medical-legal partnerships (MLPs). An MLP is a model of US-based health and legal service provision that generally looks to offer combined, single-site interprofessional responses to patients whose health status and access to health services can be compromised by their need for legal help. Patients who are immigrants, were recently incarcerated, or lack reliable and safe shelter or employment, for example, can experience health vulnerabilities that call for legal expertise, perhaps in the form of advice, aid in petitioning a court or program, referral, representation in administrative proceedings, or advocacy. This theme issue investigates strategies by which clinicians and attorneys should work together to screen for and respond with care to legal determinants of patients’ health. 

We invite manuscripts for the August 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that explore these and related topics. Also welcome are manuscripts that consider whether and to what extent it is ethically, clinically, or legally problematic for MLP interventions to lack standardization throughout the US. On one hand, MLPs flourish when they have regulatory flexibility to meet location-specific needs of patients and communities. On the other hand, in some contexts and for some patient populations, we ought to wonder whether and how MLPs have evolved to the point at which medical-legal interventions should have national standards, such as those considered by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, and oversight to ensure safe, reliable practice and service to patient-clients.  

Manuscript submission deadline has passed.