Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) Executive Director Alison Paul has been selected for a national medical-legal fellowship in the “Where Health Meets Justice” program. This fellowship was awarded to 24 leaders providing legal aid to the poor and is designed to improve the intersection of health and the law in each of their communities.
The program, a collaboration of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA), with funding by the Public Welfare Foundation, will build healthcare expertise in the legal aid community so that organizations such as MLSA can better meet the legal needs of clients that affect their health.
“Legal needs related to housing, domestic violence and public benefits are inextricably linked to the health and well-being of low-income communities,” said Camille Holmes, Director for Leadership and Racial Equality at NLADA. “For decades, civil legal aid offices have worked to improve housing conditions, protect utility access and appeal benefit denials. But what has been missing is a concerted effort to align these services with the delivery of healthcare for the same populations. This fellowship aims to remedy that.”
MLSA is a non-profit law firm that empowers low-income people by providing legal information, advice, and other services free of charge, thereby protecting and enhancing the civil legal rights of, and promoting systemic change for, Montanans living in poverty.
While MLSA has a long-standing partnership with Riverstone Health in Billings to assist with the legal needs of its patients, participation in the fellowship program will allow MLSA to learn new funding strategies and opportunities within the healthcare sector, as well as to strengthen the organization’s tools and processes for providing exemplary services across the state.
Paul joins twenty-three other senior level staff from legal aid agencies in 21 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as inaugural fellows. During the year-long program, a faculty of national experts in healthcare administration, policy, research and economics will guide the fellows.