The Medical-Legal Partnership Project helps Vermonters with legal needs that may harm their health. We have three partnerships with Vermont medical providers.
In our partnership with UVM Medical Center, we work with care managers to address their patients' civil legal problems. Through the Legal Assistance in Recovery Services project, we partner with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinics around the state. We help people with substance use disorder to overcome legal obstacles to their recovery. We also work with DULCE to provide legal support to families with newborn children. It’s a partnership with several pediatric practices and parent-child centers.
We give advice and represent Vermonters in a wide variety of areas, including:
- expungement of criminal records
- evictions and habitability in rental housing
- emergency housing for people without a home
- custody and visitation
- public benefits
- and driver's license reinstatement.
We also train and support our medical partners. In addition, we advocate for state policies that improve the lives of our clients.
Addiction leads to other civil legal problems
Margaret became addicted to opioids when she was prescribed pain medication for a back injury. When her prescription ended, she forged checks and prescriptions to feed her addiction. After time in prison and on probation, she began medication-assisted treatment three years ago.
She became the mother of two young children, living in a one-bedroom apartment with no place for the children to play. She was turned down from better housing because of her criminal record. Meanwhile, her back injury got worse. It was impossible for her to work. Margaret started to get disability benefits, but they stopped when she did not complete paperwork to recertify after two years.
We helped Margaret clear her record so she could get a better place to live. Her dismissed charges and misdemeanor convictions were expunged, and her one felony conviction, which happened before she turned 25, was sealed. With her now clean record, she moved her family into a larger apartment.
We also helped Margaret ask for continuing benefits while she gave the Social Security Administration access to medical records to prove her ongoing disability.
Name(s) and some details have been changed to protect anonymity and confidentiality.
You may qualify for legal help from Vermont Legal Aid. To ask for a referral to Vermont Legal Aid or other legal help:
- use our Legal Help Tool on the VTLawHelp.org website, or
- call our legal helpline at 1-800-889-2047.