MORGANTOWN -- A program between West Virginia University’s College of Law and School of Medicine has received formal recognition from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.

Based at George Washington University, the NCMLP works to build a better healthcare team that can identify, address, and prevent health-harming legal needs for patients, clinics, and populations. Only 37 law schools and 30 medical schools in 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 Joyce McConnell, dean of the College of Law. “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.”

Established in 2010, the WVU Medical-Legal Partnership is a collaborative effort between the clinical law program at the College of Law and the Department of Pediatrics the School of Medicine.

During medical visits, healthcare providers identify potential legal issues involving education, child custody, guardianship, domestic relations, domestic violence, or inadequate housing.

If a legal problem is identified, families are given the opportunity to consult the Child and Family Advocacy Clinic at the law school. The clinic, which provides free services to those in need, is staffed by third-year law students and supervised by law professors.

The law clinic responds to more than 40 legal inquiries a year from the School of Medicine. The law students and faculty resolve most of the legal issues without litigation. For cases where legal action has been necessary, the clinic has successfully resolved every issue for the children and their families.

“We are so fortunate to share a campus with one of this country’s pre-eminent law schools. 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,” Arthur J. Ross III, dean of the School of Medicine, said. “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.”

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