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2011 July - August

Medical-Legal Partnership

Evolution or Revolution?

By Pamela C. Tames, Colleen M. Cotter, Suzette M. Melendez, Steve Scudder & Jeffrey Colvin

A growing number of medical-legal partnerships are devoting their resources to preventive legal care, with the goal of reducing health and legal disparities. The legal and the medical professions are rooted in service to the public. Both are committed to serving those in need, and the effect of that commitment is intensified when many lawyers, in particular ones associated with legal aid, law schools, the private bar, and hospital general counsel, collaborate with health care providers in medical-legal partnerships to protect and improve the lives of vulnerable populations. All medical-legal partnerships provide legal assistance in the health care setting. They seek to transform health and legal institutions and practices and to influence policy making to improve the well-being of vulnerable populations. The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership offers expert advice in planning and implementing sustainable medical-legal partnerships.

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Child Labor in America

History's Horror, Today's Tragedy

By Seymour H. Moskowitz

The exploitation of child labor has not been eradicated. Federal and state laws and regulations fail to protect our youths because current statutes do not consider the serious physical, educational, emotional, and socioeconomic impact of work on children. Federal and state labor departments cannot enforce even inadequate child labor laws because insufficient resources are appropriated for inspections, and violators are not prosecuted. But lawyers can be activists and help initiate personal and communitywide efforts to end the tragedy of American youths in the workplace.

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Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability Cases Involving Alcohol or Drug Use

Developments in the Last Decade

By Linda Landry

Fifteen years after Congress prohibited receiving social security disability benefits where drug or alcohol abuse is a “material factor” in the disability, the Social Security Administration has yet to promulgate regulations implementing the prohibition. Instead the agency relies on subregulatory instructions and policy statements. Advocates should become familiar with the intracacies of these statements and instructions.

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Eliminating the Racial Wealth Gap

The Asset Perspective

By Karen K. Harris & Kathleen Rubenstein

The racial wealth gap in the United States persists after centuries of government policies advantaging wealth accumulation by white Americans. Although legal discrimination has ended, many current government policies have the effect of promoting further wealth building by those who already possess significant assets. The government should instead work to reverse years of discrimination by adopting policies that directly encourage asset building by minority and low-income populations. Promoting savings, increasing access to mainstream credit, and improving and increasing financial education can close the racial wealth gap.

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Civil Right to Counsel's Relationship to Antipoverty Advocacy--Further Reflections

By Debra Gardner & John Pollock

Gary F. Smith suggests in the May-June issue of Clearinghouse Review that, inspired by the life of Sargent Shriver, the legal aid community should reclaim the original mission of legal services to challenge the conditions that cause poverty rather than promoting “equal access” to justice and the legal system. But these goals are not contradictory. To the contrary, adopting a civil right to counsel in cases affecting basic human needs, with the nature of the right shaped by local communities and advocates, would help achieve Shriver’s vision for legal services.

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Thoughts on Better Practices for Pro Bono Legal Services for Clients of Legal Services Organizations

By Theodore O. Fillette III

Legal services organizations and their clients benefit from having robust pro bono programs. Legal services offices can get private-firm lawyers to volunteer by understanding and meeting their motivations for volunteering; offering volunteers the best clients and matters; and supporting volunteers with relevant materials, training, and mentoring. Marketing pro bono programs can be handled internally or with the help of local bar organizations or judges. Legal services organizations themselves are best suited to match particular clients with volunteers. pro bono programs should quickly resolve any complaints from either volunteers or their clients.

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Adoption Assistance

An Introduction

By Alice Bussiere

Adoption assistance programs can provide parents with the crucial support they need to make their dreams of adopting a special-needs child a reality. However, such federal and state programs can be difficult for both parents and their advocates to navigate. Adoption advocates need to familiarize themselves with the eligibility guidelines and assistance rules of these programs to make sure that their clients’ adoptions are successful.

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