The West Virginia University College of Law presents Ellen Lawton, J.D., executive director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at Boston Medical Center & Boston University School of Medicine, who will speak at the John W. Fisher II Lecture in Law and Medicine.

Lawton’s address is entitled Addressing Health & Legal Disparities: the Medical-Legal Partnership Model; it will be held at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 23, in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom, WVU Law Center.

Lawton will discuss how legal interventions in the healthcare setting can improve health for low-income populations and transform the healthcare and legal system, coupled with a description of the medical-legal partnership movement, and opportunities for integration of legal assistance in the healthcare delivery model under health reform.

As Lawton says in the Partnership Center’s blog dedicated to news about medical-legal partnerships, “Health care providers should give more than just referrals to their legal partners – they need to help develop trainings and engage in evaluation strategies. Lawyers and paralegals need to tailor trainings to the needs and skills of their health care partners and adapt their practices to the clinical setting.”

Lawton has served as executive director of the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children from 2001-2008, developing its National Center in 2006. She is now executive director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership. Under her leadership, the medical-legal partnership model has been replicated in nearly 200 hospital and health centers across the US.

Before becoming executive director, Lawton was a staff attorney responsible for a federally funded TANF advocacy project at Boston Medical Center. She has expertise in poverty law generally, and in the area of family law and interpersonal violence. Lawton is nationally recognized for her leadership in developing the medical-legal partnership model, and has published an array of articles describing this work in both clinical and legal journals.

She serves on the board of directors at Health Imperatives, and is on the advisory panel for the Obesity Advocacy Project of the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality.

Lawton is a 1993 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and was a Harvard Law School Wasserstein Fellow. Prior to her work at Boston Medical Center, she clerked for the Honorable Frederick L. Brown of the Massachusetts Appeals Court and then served as staff attorney for the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive experience in Central America and Mexico.

The event will be webcast live at can be viewed at



CONTACT: Brian Caudill, College of Law

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