Thompson Hine Leads a Unique Partnership

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Legal Aid clients and MetroHealth patients benefit.

April, 2011 – For those in poverty, when visits to a physician are numerous and health conditions become chronic, those health concerns are often linked to a problem which has a legal remedy.

Together, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and The MetroHealth System tackle client/patient issues: Legal Aid attorneys educate healthcare providers about legal issues, the providers then refer patients to Legal Aid attorneys who work as part of the healthcare team, and Legal Aid attorneys remove legal barriers to health for MetroHealth patients. This collaboration is known as the Community Advocacy Program (CAP).

  Thompson Hine became involved with CAP six years ago. At the time, CAP was only the fifth medical-legal partnership in the country, and the first of its kind in Ohio. The firm began discussions with Legal Aid about how to best support and expand CAP. Legal Aid presented a plan: “It was an audacious proposal … and we considered it. It dovetailed nicely with the interests of Legal Aid and MetroHealth,” says Mike Hardy, then partner-in-charge of the Cleveland office.

Ultimately, Thompson Hine nominated CAP for a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Local Initiatives Program. The firm led local support for CAP, and helped Legal Aid and MetroHealth secure more than $1 million to expand CAP to serve four vulnerable communities.

Frank DeSantis, partner at Thompson Hine, volunteers at a Brief Advice and Referral Clinic.

When the expansion funding ended last year, Thompson Hine determined the firm’s support should continue. Frank DeSantis, a Thompson Hine partner and member of Legal Aid’s board of directors, “barely had to finish the description of what the program provided” before the attorneys jumped on board. David Hooker, managing partner, observes, “We want participation to be throughout the firm. The reception was positive – we have people who are very community-minded.”

To date, Thompson Hine attorneys have contributed more than $10,000. Annually, the firm matches these gifts dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000. This program will continue through 2013. Mr. DeSantis notes the importance of legal services: “For the legal system to work the way it does, all segments of society need to be represented.”

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