Mount Sinai Medical-Legal Partnership Expands Legal Services for Neediest Patients


November 8, 2019

Mount Sinai Medical-Legal Partnership (MSMLP), an organization formed to address the legal needs of Mount Sinai’s neediest patients, unveiled two initiatives that provide free special education law and advocacy assistance to families and patients in need. The announcement was made at an event held Wednesday at Mount Sinai that also honored the work of contributions of Blaine (“Fin”) Fogg, who was a member of the Boards of Trustees of the Mount Sinai Health System.

Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney and keynote speaker, commended the efforts to provide legal assistance to patients and families in need. The Manhattan DA’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative awarded funds to The Legal Aid Society to support two full-time Legal Aid attorneys to provide free legal services for patients at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Child and Family Services.  These attorneys will help patients and their families navigate the special education system.

“The role of law enforcement in the twenty-first century is not merely to arrest and prosecute,” said Mr. Vance. “We can deliver greater public safety and healthier communities if we prevent young people from coming into contact with the justice system in the first place. This is why, through our Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, we have partnered with Mount Sinai, The Legal Aid Society, and other leading organizations to provide the services and support necessary to help disadvantaged children and families succeed. I applaud the Mount Sinai Medical-Legal Partnership’s commitment to assisting New York’s most vulnerable through its new education law and advocacy services.”

The program provides legal services for families, education advocacy for parents and legal guardians, training for social workers and case managers, advocating special education services in schools, and representing youth in suspension hearings. Since 2016, this grant has enabled the Legal Aid Society to help approximately 200 students.

MSMLP also announced the pediatric legal clinic at The Mount Sinai Hospital, a new initiative made possible through philanthropic support that will identify and address the unmet legal needs of low-income pediatric patients and their families. This is a group with substantial unmet needs that can have lifelong consequences.

“We look at the needs of Mount Sinai patients in a holistic manner and believe that if we can work within the legal system to help demolish barriers to education as well as to housing, personal safety, immigration, and access to health care, it will materially improve the health of our patients and the community we serve,” said Barbara Berger Opotowsky, President of MSMLP.

At Wednesday’s event, Mount Sinai paid tribute to Mr. Fogg, a member of Mount Sinai Boards of Trustees for three decades and former chair of the Legal Committee. He was President of The Legal Aid Society of New York until his death this July.

“Mr. Fogg’s commitment to service inspired the formation of the MSMLP. And, I have no doubt that the legacy of that commitment will continue to inspire the lawyers and others who work with the MSMLP for many years to come,” said Beth Essig, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Mount Sinai Health System.

Recognizing that health care alone is often not enough to make patients well, and that some patients have legal needs that materially affect their health, MSMLP works with legal services providers, law firms, Medicaid managed care companies, and law students to try to meet those needs.

MSMLP, an independent charity, launched in 2016 and works with lawyers from The Legal Aid Society, the LegalHealth and the LGBTQ divisions of the New York Legal Assistance Group, Transcend Legal, and Youth Represent, as well as with dedicated lawyers from the New York City Bar Justice Center and New York City law firms Duane Morris LLP, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, Jenner & Block LLP, Latham & Watkins LLP, Schulte, Roth & Zabel LLP, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

In addition to the program at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Child and Family Services, MSMLP has programs that provide legal help to patients throughout the Mount Sinai Health System including clinical programs such as Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery and Palliative Care Services at Mount Sinai.

Click here for photos from the kickoff event for the Mount Sinai Medical Legal Partnership. (Captions available upon request.)