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WVU Law, medical partnership recognized by national organization

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LINDA HARRIS / The State Journal LINDA HARRIS / The State Journal

A partnership between the West Virginia University College of Law and its School of Medicine recently received formal recognition for the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.

The NCMLP is based at George Washington University, and its goal is to improve health care so it identifies, addresses and prevents legal needs of patients, clinics and populations that might harm health.

According to information from WVU, only 37 law schools and 30 medical schools throughout the country are members of the program.

“Recognition by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership puts WVU among the top schools in the country,” said WVU College of Law Dean Joyce McConnell. “In addition to providing a valuable service to the community, the program gives our law and medical students the opportunity to deal with real-world situations faced by families.”

The WVU Medical-Legal Partnership was established in 2010 as a collaborative effort between the clinical law program at the College of Law and the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine.

Through the partnership, health care providers are able during medical visits to identify potential legal issues that might involve education, child custody, guardianship, domestic relations, domestic violence or inadequate housing. Families with potential legal problems then are given the opportunity to consult the law school’s Child and Family Advocacy Clinic. The clinic is staffed by third-year law students who are supervised by law professors and provides free services to people in need. The law clinic responds to more than 40 legal inquiries a year from the School of Medicine, and the students are able to resolve most of the legal issues without litigation, according to WVU. In cases when legal action was necessary, the clinic successfully resolved every issue.

“We are so fortunate to share a campus with one of this country’s pre-eminent law schools,” said WVU School of Medicine Dean Arthur J. Ross. “In addition to the Medical-Legal Partnership, we also offer a program of study leading to the conferral of a joint M.D.-J.D. degree.

“We are grateful to Dean McConnell and her team because, I believe, the opportunities that our schools’ collaborative programs provide our students, our faculty and the people of West Virginia are both timely and exciting.”