Earlier this year, representatives of the CSX legal team met with Legal Aid staff to learn more about the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership.
The partnership is part of a nationwide network of projects where professionals from the medical and legal communities combine resources to produce outcomes for low-income and vulnerable patients that positively impact the patients' health and ability to thrive.
Not every illness has a biological remedy. For example, an asthmatic person will never breathe symptom free – no matter how much medication is administered – if he or she returns from the doctor's office to mold-infested housing as hundreds do.
An attorney can intercede to ensure that housing standards in rented properties are in compliance, ensuring that landlords keep units safely habitable.
There are countless other examples in which positive health outcomes are achieved in various areas of substantive law such as education, guardianship, Social Security, public benefits, immigration and others.
Some of the local medical partners participating in the partnership include The Sulzbacher Medical Clinic, UF Health, We Care, the Wounded Warrior Project, Community Hospice, Children's Medical Services, AgeWell Institute and the state Department of Health.
The partnership provides legal assistance to many patients from staff attorneys at Legal Aid and from pro bono attorneys throughout the community.
CSX wanted to be part of the local medical-legal partnership and devised an approach to offer everyone the opportunity to participate, including pairing attorneys licensed in states other than Florida with Florida-licensed attorneys who can appear in local court.
Paralegals and other legal staff are assigned to work with each attorney team.
They also chose to focus on two discreet areas of the law that impact family stability on a daily basis to gain the necessary expertise – guardian advocacy and temporary relative custody 0150 so they can work with each other as they learn along the way.
Other local expert resource attorneys are willing and ready to field questions and provide guidance.
For families with a special needs family member, a guardian advocacy order can ensure that a person is able to act on behalf of a disabled child into adulthood.
It's the legal option that can reassure a child and maintain family stability and structure.
For families in which the parents of children are unavailable for a period of time, a temporary relative custody order can provide a close family member with the legal authority to act on behalf of the child.
The parent may be deployed, hospitalized, incarcerated or employed out of state, for example.
A CLE training session was conducted at CSX, focusing on both guardian advocacy and temporary relative custody.
The training session also is available in webinar format for reference by the pro bono attorneys at any time.
Since beginning the conversation, the CSX team internally worked, set up and received a training session, received ongoing training support materials and expert resource attorney contact information and accepted five pro bono cases to start.
Special thanks are extended to CSX attorneys Kim Bongiovanni, Steven Breitner, Tammy Butler, Latasha Garrison-Fullwood, David Hoffman, Richard Keene, Jason Marques, Erin O'Brien, Marshelly Stephens and Drew Sutter for agreeing to assist with the new pro bono project.
CSX support staff Cathy Hilf, Sean Pozin, Lucy McCook, Gloria Westcott, Shannal Thomas, Diana Perez, Bonnie Kennedy and Dolly Hunter also volunteered to help.
The CSX Law Department has stepped out of the familiar into the unfamiliar, and families will be stabilized.
Its efforts will matter to some of the most vulnerable in our community, and we all will benefit.
Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, The JBA Pro Bono Committee chairwoman, at email@example.com.
CSX Corp. is committed to serving and strengthening the communities in which it operates beyond its rails, so when the attorneys and support staff in the CSX Law Department decided they wanted to support the work of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, they hit the ground running.