Beyond Medical Legal Partnerships: Addressing Recovery-Harming Social Conditions Through Clubhouse-Legal Partnerships


Because people with mental illnesses are particularly vulnerable to income, housing, educational, and familial instability, Medical-Legal Partnerships (“MLPs”) can be a helpful resource for them and their doctors. However, they can also harm clients and lawyer-client relationships. MLPs affirm the medical model, are entangled in harms perpetuated by hospitals and other providers—including forced treatment—and do not account for the traumatic history between people with mental illnesses and the medical profession. This Article proposes that in order to take advantage of MLPs’ proven strengths and serve people with mental illnesses in an autonomy-respecting way that builds power for them and their communities, the MLP model must be adapted. The best way to do that is by incorporating the tenets of community lawyering and partnering with non-medical, recovery-centered community centers called clubhouses to form “Clubhouse-Legal Partnerships.”

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