MLPB was founded in 1993 at New England’s largest safety net hospital, Boston City Hospital (later renamed Boston Medical Center, or BMC) and the affiliated Boston University School of Medicine. The initial program had conceptual roots in innovative HIV/AIDS advocacy strategies, earlier community lawyering pilots, as well as the early vision of Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School leaders. Dr. Barry Zuckerman, then-Chief of Pediatrics at BMC, grew frustrated by watching his young patients fail to make clinical progress as a result of substandard housing, food insecurity, and other social determinants of health. Dr. Zuckerman hired a part-time attorney (supplied by Greater Boston Legal Services) directly into the BMC's Pediatrics Department to address pediatric patients’ unmet needs for housing, food, and safety.
Over the next 23 years, this program (initially known as the Family Advocacy Program) spawned a National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (now sited at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University), a network of sites deploying MLP approaches in almost 300 healthcare institutions across the country, and a robust regional service delivery infrastructure reaching vulnerable people -- across the age and health continuum -- in Eastern Massachusetts.
Effective July 2012, MLPB began to operate under the auspices of Third Sector New England, Inc., a 501(c)(3) incorporated in Massachusetts that is committed to a more just and democratic society.
In July 2015, the compelling findings from Project DULCE were published in Pediatrics. DULCE was the first ever randomized controlled trial involving an MLP approach, on which MLPB served as the MLP service provider. MLPB is honored to be providing technical assistance to communities in five counties across the country who are replicating and refining DULCE through a national demonstration project.