Presidential Memorandum Draws Link Between Civil Legal Aid and Social Conditions of Health

The Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable will coordinate among federal programs that help the vulnerable and underserved, and advance relevant evidence-based research, data collection, and analysis of civil legal aid.

Blog Post (NATIONAL)

Ellen Lawton
Huffington Post
December 2, 2015

Tags: Medical-Legal Partnerships

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR), National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP)


President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum in September establishing the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable, the mandate of which is to “increase the availability of meaningful access to justice for individuals and families and thereby improve the outcomes of an array of Federal programs.”

As it is typically understood today, “access to justice” refers to a movement that aims to create a justice system that delivers outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, regardless of one’s socioeconomic status.

As co-directors of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, we were thrilled by the President’s announcement. What we know from ten years of leading the health care, legal, and public health sectors in an integrated approach to combat the social conditions that negatively affect health, and what the Presidential Memorandum shone light on, is that a lack of access to civil legal aid isn’t just a problem associated with basic fairness and justice; it’s a problem for the health of individuals and communities.