Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about medical-legal partnership and the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership. If you have additional questions, please contact us.

About Medical-Legal Partnership

Q: What is medical-legal partnership? 

A: Medical-legal partnership (MLP) unites the medical community and the legal community under a common mission to address and prevent health-harming social conditions for patients and for communities. An MLP embeds attorneys and paralegals in a health care settings to work with and alongside other members of the health care team. Together they screen for and treat health-harming legal needs – related to insurance, public benefits, housing, education, employment, legal status, and safety – to improve health and well-being, and reduce health care utilization.

Q: How is an MLP different than if a doctor, nurse, or social worker refers a patient to a civil legal aid agency for help with a legal problem?

A: Medical-legal partnerships differ from referral programs in that lawyers are present on-site in health care settings and participate in clinical meetings. They also establish formal frameworks to standardize screening processes of patients’ health-harming social needs, share data between health care and legal partners, communicate about patient-clients, and jointly set service and evaluation priorities that reflect their shared mission. 

Q: What is the connection between legal problems and health, and why should healthcare care about civil legal aid?

A: The health care and civil legal aid communities are both focused on addressing health-harming social conditions. Health care has traditionally treated the symptoms of poor housing, poor nutrition and exposure to violence, while civil legal aid has historically worked to increase access to safe housing, public benefits, and safe communities. By integrating civil legal aid into health care, the partnership can better address a more complete picture of health for their patients and clients.

Q: What setting does a medical-legal partnership work best in?

A: The medical-legal partnership approach can be adapted in a variety of settings. Medical-legal partnerships currently operate 294 health care institutions, including 45 children’s hospitals, 77 HRSA-funded health centers and an increasing number of institutions that serve veterans and the elderly.

Q: How are medical-legal partnership programs funded?

A: Funding sources include:

Health 2


Operational revenue, including community benefit strategies

Federal, state, and local health and public health funding and appropriations (e.g. Section 330 of Public Health Services Act, chronic disease management programs, innovation and prevention funds)

Academic research grants

Managed care demonstration projects and contracts



Federal and state legal aid appropriations and contracts (e.g. Legal Services Corporation, Administration on Aging)

Public interest legal fellowships (e.g. Equal Justice Works, Skadden, AmeriCorps)



Health and health care foundations

Community and corporate foundations

Social impact bonds

About Starting / Sustaining a Medical-Legal Partnership

Q: Are there sample trainings, screening tools or Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) available that I can use at my medical-legal partnership?

A: Yes! The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership developed a free MLP Toolkit which provides a step-by-step guide to starting a program and includes many tools and sample MOUs. Our resources page also contains tools to help with screening, training, and program evaluation.

Q: My organization participates in medical-legal partnership activities, but it is not currently on the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership’s map. How can our organization be added?

A: We hold an annual open enrollment period where programs can fill out an application to be added to the map. All organizations listed on the map are expected to complete the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership’s annual survey. Please direct any questions about the open enrollment process to Sharena Hagins at shagins@gwu.edu. The next open enrollment period will be in early 2017.

Q: Are there live opportunities to learn more about medical-legal partnership and connect with other people and organizations practicing MLP?

A: Absolutely! The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership hosts an accredited annual Medical-Legal Partnership Summit bringing together leaders and practitioners from the public and private sectors for a national conversation about how to build healthier communities by taking an integrated approach to addressing the many social and legal needs—related to health insurance, housing, education, safety and more—that negatively affect individual and population health. The 12th annual Medical-Legal Partnership Summit will be held April 5-7, 2017, in National Harbor, Maryland, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center!

Additionally, the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership hosts monthly webinars and virtual office hours on a variety of topics.

About the National Center

Q: What does the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership do?

A: The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership leads the research, resource development, and systems change needed to grow medical-legal partnerships and reach communities in need.

Q: Are there currently any jobs are available with the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership or medical-legal partnerships in my community?

A: Subscribe to our newsletter to learn about current job opportunities as they become available.