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MLSA Attorney Receives National American Bar Association Award

MLSA is proud to announce that MLSA staff attorney Kallie Dale-Ramos is the 2020 recipient of the American Bar Association’s SCLAID Centennial Access to Justice Award, which seeks to honor new attorneys for their innovative and exceptional achievements on behalf of their clients and for advancing access to justice. Ms. Dale-Ramos received this award in recognition of her efforts to increase access to justice for rural, low income Montanans through MLSA’s Montana Health Justice Partnership (MHJP).

The MHJP is an innovative medical legal partnership that connects the legal expertise of MLSA with the Montana Primary Care Association and six community health centers. This project focuses on the cross-section of law and health to address health-harming civil legal needs of patients whose health solutions lay outside the boundaries of medicine – because research indicates that fully 60% of health is determined by social and environmental factors including unsafe housing and water, denied food benefits, and wrongfully restricted resources necessary to meet basic life needs.

As part of this project, Ms. Dale-Ramos worked closely with other MLSA staff and project partners, including community health centers spread throughout Montana, in order to develop screening procedures for health center staff to use to identify civil legal problems amongst their patients; to create training materials and provide training to all partner health center staff; to develop procedures for health centers to refer patients with civil legal needs to MLSA; and, ultimately,to provide legal services to patients facing a variety of legal problems.

As a result of this work, more than 50% of the 42,426 total patients served by the partner health centers have been screened for legal problems since mid-2017, with a total of 2,361 patients being referred to MLSA for further screening since 2016. In turn, Ms. Dale Ramos and other MLSA staff have handled a total of 636 cases as part of the MHJP, helping 1,273 patients and their family members (including children) address their health-harming legal problems and live safer, healthier lives.

Ms. Dale Ramos’ tireless efforts to ensure the success of the MHJP mean that more low income Montanans than ever are now able to access justice, particularly those living in rural and remote areas. Through her work, Ms. Dale Ramos has not only helped to expand MLSA’s capacity to address the legal needs of rural clients, but has also developed an innovative solution to some of the key barriers that stand in the way of low income Montanans to identify and address their legal problems.

To read more about the American Bar Association’s SCLAID Centennial Access to Justice Award, please visit the American Bar Association website.