Integrating legal services with primary care: A health justice initiative with an onsite lawyer
Patients often leave a medical clinic with the same social and economic problems that caused them to need care in the first place. Providing legal services in health care settings can help address upstream factors that contribute to poor health.
Social factors contributing to poor health often overlap with specific legal needs, particularly relating to income security, insurance, housing, employment, and legal status. Vulnerable people—those who belong to “groups that are not well-integrated into the health care system due to ethnic, cultural, economic, geographical, or health characteristics”—are often deprived of the benefits and protection afforded by the law owing to considerable gaps in access to affordable, appropriate, and timely legal services. Further, traditional community legal services are typically inundated with acute legal problems and few resources are able to be spared to address systemic and preventive legal needs