About Us

The Opportunity

It’s well-settled that a person’s social, economic, and environmental context matters for health. The conditions where people live, work, learn, and play impact a wide health, well-being, and dignity in a range of ways.

But as a culture, we tend to talk more about risks, gaps and problems than we do about existing – or potential – strengths and solutions, such as civil rights protections. This dynamic is reflected in the “screen and refer” mechanics that animate current health policy and are embodied in social need screening pilots around the country. Yet there is much that care teams – often the first responders to people’s social, economic and environmental goals — can do to inform and empower the people they serve. Legal information and rights education must become part of the care toolbox.

MLPB is a law and policy ‘extender’ for teams and organizations who recognize that they will be more effective if they expand their toolbox to include a new kind of proficiency – familiarity with people’s basic legal rights, risks, and remedies. Through training, consultation, and technical assistance, we are honored to support communities of care who understand the intrinsic connection between health and justice. We also are privileged to contribute, in collaboration with many valued colleagues, to the evidence base for preventive power of legal partnering and spread the word accordingly!

Healthy People 2030, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Moving Upstream Matters

The Health Impact Pyramid teaches that when foundational social, economic, and environmental conditions are improved for people, population-level impact grows and fewer individuals and households need of intensive interventions. On the path to the pyramid’s “base” – a critical form of primordial prevention – there is much work be done midstream, building the capacity of communities of care to offer a more robust set of health-promoting tools to the people they serve.

Many of our valued colleagues in the public interest law community provide direct legal assistance to individuals and families, generating a fiduciary relationship with their client, Historically, this type of case handling typically is only available at no cost to some people in limited, acute situations. And the demand/supply gap is sobering.

At this midstream node, MLPB has pioneered a capacity-building strategy that now is scaling nationally through the legal partnering component of DULCE.

This critical work spans many systems that influence people’s lives, and often means that change agents must carry more “sticks” than “carrots.”

Direct Legal Representation

Many of our valued colleagues in the public interest law community provide direct legal assistance to individuals and families, generating a fiduciary relationship with their client, Historically, this type of case handling typically is only available at no cost to some people in limited, acute situations. And the demand/supply gap is sobering.

Team-Facing Legal Partnering (Capacity-Building)

At this midstream node, MLPB has pioneered a capacity-building strategy that now is scaling nationally through the legal partnering component of DULCE.

System Oversight, Law Reform, and Accountability

This critical work spans many systems that influence people’s lives, and often means that change agents must carry more “sticks” than “carrots.”

Adapted from Morton, Samantha J. (2019). “Legal Partnering for Child and Family Health: An Opportunity and Call to Action for Early Childhood Systems” Available at: https://cssp.org/resource/legal-partnering/

It Takes a (Legal Partnering) Village

For communities of care to comprehensively and ethically advance health through justice, they ultimately need a “village” of team-facing and consumer-facing legal partners. Boundaries and transparency matter a lot. MLPB has facilitated and piloted these kinds of carefully-crafted legal partnering networks in a range of settings.

Is your community of care interested in designing a village of legal partnering relationships that will enable impact across all three stages of impact? Unsure how to structure such a service in ways that both honor community goals and account for complex ethics and professional responsibility considerations?