It got done when the paralegals got involved

The actual quote is “It got done when the lawyers got involved,” but the story from The New York Times explains, “Within days, a paralegal had secured an inspection that finally forced the landlord to make repairs, and also got the rent reduced temporarily while Ms. Cade searched for less expensive housing.”

The gist of the report is that pediatric clinics are now working with legal aid offices to assist patients whose medical conditions need more than medicine to improve. “Doctors and social workers have long said that medical care alone is not enough to address the health woes of the poor, which are often related to diet, living conditions and stress.” Here’s how it went in the cases the Times uses to illustrate the phenomenon:

It was not the normal stuff of a pediatric exam. As a doctor checked the growth of Davon Cade’s 2-month-old son, he also probed about conditions at home, and what he heard raised red flags.

Ciera Jones and her son, Jamari, 4, in a meeting with the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital this week. Ms. Jones said she was looking for a day-care facility for her son, who has asthma.
Ms. Cade’s apartment had leaky windows and plumbing and was infested with roaches and mold, but the city, she said, had not responded to her complaints. On top of that, the landlord was evicting her for falling behind on the rent.

Help came through an unexpected route. The doctor referred Ms. Cade to the legal aid office right inside the pediatric clinic at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.

This case, which obviously involves paralegals supervised by clinic attorneys, is another illustration of how the paralegal profession can improve access to justice for those who cannot afford an attorney. I am not quite there yet, but it may ultimately be part of a justification of a licensing program such as that in Ontario, Canada, and programs in many other countries, that allow paralegals to provide limited legal services without attorney supervision.

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