2017 Medical-Legal Partnership Symposium

Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) Symposium: Building an Academic Agenda to Enhance Practice

Friday, March 3, 2017
Yale Law School

This one-day symposium aimed to build an academic agenda to enhance the practice of Medical Legal-Partnerships (MLPs), which integrate legal services into health care settings to enable more holistic care addressing social determinants of health, increase access to justice, and “treat” legal issues early avoiding crisis.  Particular focus was on MLP interactions with health policy, meeting the needs of marginalized communities, and measuring the impacts of legal services on health.  Additionally, the symposium presented an opportunity to grapple with the role of MLPs with the challenges facing of the Affordable Care Act.  Please find a symposium synopsis, an article about it in the Yale Daily News, and, videos of the opening remarks, panel I (MLPs and Health Policy), panel II (MLP and Communities), panel III (Measuring Value), and the closing remarks.

A collection of papers presented at the symposium were published in the  Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics.  Additional partners in organizing the symposium are the Yale Health Law & Policy Society and Yale’s US Health Justice Collaborative.  This event was supported by the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School.

Please find out more about the Solomon Center's Medical-Legal Partnership program.


9:30 a.m.
Registration and Refreshments

10:00 a.m.
Welcome & Opening Remarks

Bill Aseltyne (Senior Vice President & General Counsel and Chief of Staff to the CEO, Yale New Haven Health)
Tamar Ezer (Executive Director, Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy, Yale Law School)

10:20 a.m.
Panel 1—MLPs and Health Policy

Moderator: Samantha Morton (CEO, BMLP)
Panelists: Emily Benfer (Clinical Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Stritch School of Medicine and Founding Director, Health Justice Project), Yael Cannon (Visiting Associate Professor, Georgetown University Law Center and Co-Director, Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance) & Andrew Hsi (Founder, University of New Mexico Medical Legal Alliance), Jay Sicklick (Deputy Director, Center for Children’s Advocacy), and Joel Teitelbaum (Associate Professor, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and Co-Director, National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership)

11:35 a.m.
Coffee Break

11:50 a.m.
Panel 2—MLPs and Communities

Moderator: Randye Retkin (Director, New York Legal Assistance Group)
Panelists: Susan Cohen (Physician, Bellevue Hospital Center, NYU School of Medicine), Medha Makhlouf (Clinical Professor of Law, Penn State University, Dickinson Law), Lisa Puglisi (Assistant Professor, Yale School of Medicine and Director, Transitions Clinic New Haven), Alice Rosenthal (Attorney, Center for Children’s Advocacy) & Christy Olezeski (Assistant Professor, Yale School of Medicine), and Geoff Wertime (Skadden Fellow, Housing Works, Inc.)

1:10 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
Panel 3—Measuring the Value of MLPs and the Impact of Legal Services

Moderator: Emily Wang (Associate Professor, Yale School of Medicine and Co-Founder, Transitions Clinic Network)
Panelists: Allyson Gold (Visiting Clinical Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law), Ellen Lawton (Co-Director, National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health), and Margaret Middleton (Executive Director, The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center) & Jack Tsai (Assistant Professor, Yale School of Medicine and Director, Yale Division of Mental Health Services Research)

3:15 p.m.
Closing Remarks

Miriam Becker-Cohen (Co-Director of Haven Medical-Legal Partnership)
Claudia Wack (Co-Director of Haven Medical-Legal Partnership)

3:30 p.m.
Wine and Cheese Reception

4:30 p.m.

Speaker Bios

Bill Aseltyne, JD
Bill Aseltyne is Senior Vice President and General Counsel and Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive Officer at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale New Haven Health System. Prior to joining Yale New Haven in 2007, Mr. Aseltyne was Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Sutter Health, a nonprofit health system in Northern California.  Mr. Aseltyne graduated with honors from the University of Michigan Law School.  Mr. Aseltyne serves on several nonprofit boards and is active in community service.  He lives in Guilford with his husband and their 12-year old son.

Emily Benfer, JD, LLM
Emily Benfer is a Clinical Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Department of Public Health. Professor Benfer founded and is the Director of the award winning Health Justice Project, a fully integrated medical-legal partnership (MLP) at Erie Family Health Center that engages providers, medical residents, graduate students, and lawyers to address the social determinant of health. The Health Justice Project has been featured by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, Health Resources and Services Administration, and major news outlets. Prior to founding the Health Justice Project in 2010, Professor Benfer was a teaching fellow and supervising attorney in the Federal Legislation & Administrative Clinic at Georgetown Law Center. In practice, she served as a legislative lawyer in the successful campaign to pass the ADA Amendments Act. She has engaged in direct representation, class action litigation, grassroots organizing and federal and state policy reform in multiple areas of public interest law, including homelessness, special education, housing, disability and public benefits, at civil legal aid, and non-profit organizations. Professor Benfer is co-principle of Health Justice Innovations, LLC, and has supported numerous hospitals, law schools, and nonprofits in starting MLPs. She served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and a Peace Corps volunteer. She was named one of Chicago’s Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 by the National Law Journal and received the Health Innovator Award and the inaugural Schweitzer Leadership Award for her work to achieve health equity and social justice, among numerous commendations for her commitment to social justice.

Yael Cannon, JD
Yael Cannon is Co-Director of the new Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance and a Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Professor Cannon is on leave from the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she is an Associate Professor and teaches in the Community Lawyering Clinic, one of the nation’s leading academic medical-legal partnerships, in which law students collaborate with medical students and faculty to advocate on behalf of low-income children and families. She also teaches doctrinal and experiential courses outside of the clinic, including Children’s Law. Professor Cannon recently secured a $2.6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to co-found the UNM Center for Child and Family Justice, a partnership with the UNM Health Sciences Center, to pursue justice, racial equity, health, and well-being for vulnerable children and families. She co-chaired the New Mexico legislature’s J. Paul Taylor Early Childhood Taskforce aimed at developing a comprehensive screening and behavioral health system of care for young children to reduce childhood maltreatment and improving outcomes. She previously taught at the American University Washington College of Law in the Disability Rights Law Clinic. In practice, Professor Cannon worked as a Senior Attorney at the Children’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., where she provided legal services at a Children’s National Medical Center pediatric clinic and engaged in policy advocacy on behalf of children and families living in poverty. Cannon graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School and summa cum laude from the University of Maryland with B.A. degrees in History and African American Studies. Her research focuses on the ways in which the law, in collaboration with other disciplines, can be used to improve health and justice outcomes for children who have experienced trauma, poverty, and disability, as well as their families.

Dr. Susan Cohen
Dr. Cohen graduated from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed residency training in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. She joined the staff at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in 2000 as a primary care physician with an interest in Palliative Care. She went on to complete board certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2005. While at the Bronx VA, she was Co-Director of the accredited Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Fellowship Program, Director of the Palliative Care Program, and site director of the Columbia University third year medical student primary care clerkship at the VA. Dr. Cohen joined the Bellevue Hospital Center Palliative Care Program in spring, 2008 as the Director and joined the faculty of the NYU School of Medicine as Assistant Clinical Professor. Since joining Bellevue/NYU, Dr. Cohen has served on the Health and Hospitals Corporation Palliative Care Council, the Bellevue Ethics Committee, and the Greater NY Hospital Association Palliative Care Leadership Network, and CAPC IPAL- Outpatient advisory board. She is currently the section Chief for Palliative Care in the new Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care at NYU School of Medicine.

Allyson Gold, JD
Allyson E. Gold is the Rodin Visiting Clinical Professor of Law in the Health Justice Project, a medical-legal partnership clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law in which interprofessional teams collaborate to address social and legal issues affecting the health of low-income individuals. Prior to joining the Health Justice Project, Ms. Gold worked at the Health Law Partnership in Atlanta, Georgia, where she worked to improve health outcomes of low-income tenants. Ms. Gold's scholarship focuses on the health equity ramifications of housing policy. Ms. Gold received her JD, with Honors, from Emory University School of Law and her B.A., with High Distinction, from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Andrew Hsi
The University of New Mexico Medical Legal Alliance started 20 years ago through a collaboration between the Clinical Law Programs directed by Professor J. Michael Norwood and Dr. Hsi. They reviewed the civil legal needs of families affected by family substance use disorders and determined a role for law students informing the medical and early intervention programs serving these families. These efforts resulted in memoranda of understanding between the Schools of Medicine and Law establishing the formal relationship that continues to present. Through their efforts, innovations such as training a developmental specialist to conduct screening for legal needs on home visits became a routine aspect of the comprehensive interdisciplinary system of care. The law faculty and students wrote legislation that established the Kinship-Guardianship Act in New Mexico as an outgrowth of issues they saw affecting families in the FOCUS Program. Dr. Hsi has a 25 year history of developing programs that have cared for infants and mothers affected by prenatal alcohol and substance use as the PI of the FOCUS Program, the intensive home-based early intervention program connected to the primary clinics serving young children and their parents and as a founder of the MILAGRO Program, the HSC's comprehensive obstetrical and drug treatment program. He has achieved national recognition including the first Humanism in Medicine award in 1999 from the American Association of Medical Colleges and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals for your leading programs caring for marginalized patient populations. As Director of the Institute for Resilience, Health, and Justice, Dr. Hsi has started to organize and implement clinical and research programs to address causes of health and justice disparities. The Institute seeks to develop programmatic efforts to identify and support resilience in patient populations to achieve better health and justice outcomes. He speaks frequently on issues related to two-generation service models, comprehensive care for parents and their children, the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences in family systems, and the medical and behavioral health needs of youth in the criminal justice system.

Ellen Lawton, JD
Ellen Lawton, JD is a Principal Investigator and Lead Research Scientist at the George Washington University where she leads the University’s National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership in the Department of Health Policy and Management. An expert in poverty law generally, Ms. Lawton is a lead editor of the 2011 textbook, Poverty, Health & Law: Readings from Medical-Legal Partnership. Ms. Lawton is internationally recognized for her leadership in developing the medical-legal partnership approach, and has published an array of articles describing this work in both clinical and legal journals. Ms. Lawton received the 2011 Innovations in Legal Services Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, is chair of the board of directors at Health Imperatives and is a member of the board of directors of Community Resources for Justice. She also serves on the national advisory committee for the Primary Care Leadership Program.

Medha Makhlouf, JD
Medha D. Makhlouf is a Clinical Professor of Law at Penn State’s Dickinson Law, and Founding Director of the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, which launched in the fall of 2016. She also teaches courses in the area of health law. Prior to this, she was a Staff Attorney at the Central West Justice Center in Worcester, MA, where she directed MLPs with a community health center and a hospital. Medha first became involved with MLPs when she joined the leadership team of the MLP at Dorchester House Multi-Service Center as an associate attorney at Ropes & Gray in Boston. She has also worked at non-profit organizations in the United States and abroad representing asylum-seekers and refugees. Medha is a graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University.

Margaret Middleton, JD
Margaret M. Middleton is the legal supervisor at the Veterans MLP. She is a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. She also serves as Executive Director of The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center in New Haven, a nonprofit she founded that provides free legal services to low-income military veterans and educates the public on important issues facing the veterans’ community. Previously, she was a Fellow at David Rosen and Associates in New Haven and a law clerk to The Honorable Janet C. Hall of the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, CT. She is a graduate of Cornell University and the New York University School of Law.

Samantha J. Morton, JD
Samantha J. Morton is CEO of MLPB (MLP Boston), the founding site of the national MLP network. Ms. Morton is a national expert on how upstream legal problem-solving strategies can address social determinants of health (SDOH), and how the healthcare and human services communities can better align to reduce health disparities and advance health equity for consumers and communities. Her initial years as an MLPB public interest lawyer included a focus on immigration advocacy and pro bono engagement strategies, and she has published and presented extensively on interdisciplinary SDOH problem-solving strategies. Before joining MLPB, Ms. Morton was a litigation associate at Hale & Dorr LLP (now WilmerHale) and a judicial clerk at the United States District Court for the District of Maine. She received her law degree from the University of Michigan School of Law and her BA from Cornell University. 

Dr. Christy Olezeski
Christy Olezeski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, with a joint appointment at the Child Study Center. She provides clinical services to children, adolescents and young adults at the West Haven Mental Health Clinic, and specializes in the areas of trauma, sexually problematic behavior and work with gender and sexual minorities. Dr. Olezeski is also the Director of the Yale Pediatric Gender Program, where she coordinates care and conducts readiness evaluations with transgender and gender variant youth. Dr. Olezeski's clinical and academic interests include the study of complex trauma, gender-variance and sexuality issues. Dr. Olezeski earned her PhD in clinical psychology with an emphasis on child and adolescent development from the University at Albany and completed her postdoctoral training with the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School Children and the Law Program.

Dr. Lisa Puglisi
Dr. Lisa Puglisi is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, a primary care physician and director of Transitions Clinic New Haven at the Yale Primary Care Center, a program specializing in providing primary care and social service linkage to individuals returning from incarceration to the community. In this role she works directly with the MLP students to identify civil legal needs that influence the health and success of patient reentry.  Dr. Puglisi leads educational interventions to expand knowledge and exposure of internal medicine trainees to the health impacts of incarceration to improve medical care for this population. She received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University and MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completely her residency training at Yale.

Randye Retkin, JD
Randye Retkin, Esq., is currently the Director and Founder of LegalHealth, a Division of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). LegalHealth is the country’s largest medical-legal partnership, serving 26 hospitals including three VA hospitals. Prior to joining NYLAG, Ms. Retkin served as Director of Legal Services for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the nation’s oldest and largest organization serving people with HIV/AIDS. Ms. Retkin served as a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) where she established the VOLS Immigrants’ Rights Project. She is a founder of the New York Immigration Coalition and the National Cancer Legal Services Network. She is a co-author of New York States’ Standby Guardianship law and New York’s Health-Related Legal Services law. Ms. Retkin is an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, a member of the OneCityHealth Executive Committee and serves on the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Ethics Committee.

Alice Rosenthal, JD
Alice Rosenthal is an attorney for the Center for Children’s Advocacy and coordinates the MLP at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She represents children and families on legal issues affecting the health and well-being of children, such as housing, public benefits, healthcare access, and education and works collaboratively with hospital staff and providers. Prior to working at the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Rosenthal worked as an education law attorney at Advocates for Children of New York, representing children involved in the child welfare system on access to an appropriate education, first as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and then as a project director. Prior to law school, Rosenthal worked as an advocate on children’s issues with Good Shepherd Services and the Center for Court Innovation. Rosenthal received a B.A. in Psychology and Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from Rutgers Law School-Newark. She is admitted to practice in Connecticut and New York.

Jay Sicklick, JD
Jay Sicklick began as a staff attorney at the Center for Children’s Advocacy and founded the Center’s Medical-Legal Partnership Project April 2000. Prior to this appointment, he served on the faculty of the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he held the position of Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, teaching lawyering skills, and social welfare law. Mr. Sicklick also served as a senior staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Bronx Neighborhood Office for six years, as well as a private practitioner in Boston. He currently holds the positions of Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he teaches courses in legal ethics and professional responsibility and Clinical Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Mr. Sicklick is a graduate of Colgate University and Boston College Law School.

Joel Teitelbaum, JD, LLM
Joel Teitelbaum, J.D., LL.M., is a tenured Associate Professor of Health Policy, Director of the Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program, and Co-Director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. He also carries a faculty appointment with the GW Law School. Professor Teitelbaum has taught courses on health care law, health care civil rights, public health law, and minority health policy. He was awarded the University-wide Bender Teaching Award and was co-recipient of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. He has authored dozens of articles, book chapters, and policy papers on civil rights issues in health care, medical-legal partnership, and health reform, and he is the lead author of Essentials of Health Policy and Law, Third Edition (2017). During President Obama’s second term, Professor Teitelbaum was named to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030. He also serves as Special Advisor to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Veterans’ Legal Services and as a member of the Board of Advisors of PREPARE, a national advanced care planning organization.

Dr. Jack Tsai
Dr. Tsai is a licensed clinical psychologist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and serves on the faculty at Yale School of Medicine where he also serves as director of the Yale Division of Mental Health Services Research. Dr. Tsai has received federally funded grants and published over 130 peer-reviewed articles on topics related to homelessness, severe mental illness, trauma, and health disparities. Dr. Tsai holds leadership positions in the American Psychological Association and the American Public Health Association, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless. He teaches and supervises interns, residents, and fellows at VA Connecticut, Yale, and surrounding universities. In his spare time, he enjoys scuba diving, playing basketball, and international travel.

Dr. Emily Wang
Dr. Emily Wang is the medical partner at the transitons MLP. She is an Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine and Co-Founder of the Transitions Clinic Network. Dr. Wang’s research focuses on promoting health equity for vulnerable populations, especially individuals with a history of incarceration, through both prison and community based interventions. She has developed expertise in training former prisoners to become community health workers and researchers through community based participatory research methods. She is Co-Founder of the Transitions Clinic Network, a consortium of 15 community health centers nationwide dedicated to caring for recently released prisoners and defining best practices for the health care of individuals leaving prison. In 2012, the Transitions Clinic Network was awarded the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Award to provide care to over 2,000 high-risk, high-cost patients returning from prison and to train and employ former prisoners as community health workers. Dr. Wang is the principal investigator on a number of NIH and institute-funded research projects, including a NHLBI-funded project to improve cardiovascular outcomes in patients with a history of incarceration. She was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Health and Incarceration Workshop (2012) and Means of Violence Workshop (2014). Dr. Wang has a BA from Harvard University, an MD from Duke University, and a MAS from the University of California, San Francisco.

Geoffrey Wertime, JD
Geoffrey Wertime, Esq. is a Skadden Fellow at Housing Works, one of the nation's largest HIV/AIDS services providers, where he pursues impact litigation and provides direct services to low-income clients in New York City. He graduated from NYU School of Law, cum laude, in 2014, and was awarded the Ann Petluck Poses Memorial Prize for outstanding clinical work. In law school, he was a Ford Fellow and served as Web Editor of the NYU Review of Law and Social Change. After graduation, he clerked in the Southern District of New York. Wertime is a graduate of Vassar College.

This event is supported by the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School.