Health Care Partner Receives Adams Pro Bono Publico Award for Medical-Legal Partnership Work

In The News
October 28, 2013

Health care partner Michele Garvin has been honored with a 2013 Adams Pro Bono Publico Award by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services. Ms. Garvin was chosen for the prestigious award for her work in establishing Ropes & Gray’s medical-legal partnerships, which were launched in 2008 and have since become a nationally recognized model for providing high-quality pro bono legal services that enhance the health and well-being of low-income families. Ms. Garvin received her award at an October 23 ceremony held at the Adams Courthouse in Boston. Ropes & Gray was also honored at the ceremony by being named to the Supreme Judicial Court’s Pro Bono Honor Roll for the third consecutive year. 

Ropes & Gray established its first medical-legal partnership in 2008 by adopting the Medical-Legal Partnership|Boston (MLP | Boston) legal clinic at the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center (Dot House), a community health center in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. In 2011, the firm joined several other Boston-area law firms to launch another MLP | Boston legal clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. 

Since the program’s inception, Ms. Garvin has led more than 190 Ropes & Gray partners, associates, summer associates and paralegals in serving more than 210 Dot House and Dana-Farber patients and their families. The team’s efforts have encompassed more than 270 distinct legal matters in five practice areas: housing/utilities, immigration, education, public benefits and family law. 

Services have been provided to patients and families through an infrastructure developed by Ms. Garvin that has become recognized as a model for health center adoption by the American Bar Association. Through this framework, a core team of associates and paralegals assumes project management and substantive practice area leadership roles, and coordinates with multiple legal services agencies that provide expert mentorship. 

Since taking on its first Dot House client in January 2009, Ropes & Gray has provided more than 26,000 hours of pro bono service through its MLP | Boston projects. Ms. Garvin alone has spent more than 415 pro bono hours. 

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Garvin noted, “I am convinced that the delivery of effective care to low-income individuals and families depends on first eliminating the legal issues that act as a barrier to better health outcomes. Currently, the costs of unmet legal needs—relating to housing, income support, education, immigration status and family law matters—are buried in the health care system. Addressing these legal needs is a critical ingredient in our ability to produce better health care results and ultimately lower the costs of care. The medical legal partnership model is health care reform at its best.” 

“I think the work [Michele has] done here at Dorchester House has been hugely beneficial for our patients and staff. More importantly, I think providing this rich experience for [Ropes & Gray’s] young associates will lead to more well-rounded attorneys and a real positive impact for our community,” said Dr. Patrick Egan, chief medical officer at Dot House. 

  Ms. Garvin delivered an acceptance speech after receiving her 2013 Adams Pro Bono Publico Award. 
  Ms. Garvin was joined by a large contingent of family, Ropes & Gray colleagues and community partners at the award ceremony.