Medical Legal Partnerships topic of WVU lecture

By The West Virginia Record | Feb 17, 2011

MORGANTOWN -- 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 in a talk titled, Addressing Health & Legal Disparities: the Medical-Legal Partnership Model at noon 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 mentions in the blogdedicated 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. Ms. 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. Ms. Lawton is a fluent Spanish speaker with extensive experience in Central America and Mexico.

This lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Thomas S. Clark, M.D., and Jean Clark, formerly of Morgantown, now residing in Bruceton, West Virginia. The Clark Family Lecture Series was established in 1998, with a half-million dollar pledge to fund lectures in 10 fields of study throughout WVU.

Thomas S. Clark graduated from the WVU Medical Technology program in 1967 and received his medical degree from WVU in 1975. He is medical director of Mylan Pharmaceuticals and the former CEO and owner of Clinical Pharmacologic Research, Inc. Jean Clark completed her B.A. at WVU in 1967 and earned a master's degree in education in 1974. She is a member of the WVU Foundation, Inc., Board of Directors. The Clarks have two sons, Stuart, of Nashville, Tennessee, and Chad, who resides in Morgantown.

John W. Fisher II became the 15th WVU Dean of Law on April 2, 1998. Among the recognitions he received, in the form of congratulations, was the John W. Fisher II Lecture in Law and Medicine.

Fisher received his B.A. in History from WVU in 1964 and his J.D. from the WVU College of Law in 1967. He joined the College of Law faculty in 1971 and has been called, "the state's foremost authority in the field of property law," by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. In 1977, he received an appointment as a part-time magistrate for the U.S. District Court, and full professor tenure at the College of Law. During the 1980s, he served a four-year term as WVU Chief of Staff and advisor to the Office of the President. Prior to his 1998 deanship, he fulfilled the leadership role of interim dean three times. He is married to Susan V. Fisher, and they have a daughter, Jennifer, a son, Jay, and two grandchildren, Austin and Emily. In 2007 he was named William J. Maier, Jr. Dean and Professor of Law.

The event will be webcast live at can be viewed at

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