Document Type



Published in Volume 11 Journal of Health Care Law & Policy 249 (2008).

An earlier version of this article was included in the NELLCO Legal Scholarship Repository, Roger Williams University School of Law Faculty Papers: Tobin Tyler, Elizabeth, "Allies Not Adversaries: Teaching Collaboration to the next Generation of Doctors and Lawyers to Address Social Inequality" (2008). Roger Williams University School of Law Faculty Papers. Paper 17.


Recent reports from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, as well as from other medical and legal educators, stress that professional training of doctors and lawyers focuses too narrowly on knowledge-based learning, and not enough on context-based problem solving, professionalism, and ethics. Tracing recent calls from both legal and medical educators to increase the teaching of ethics, social responsibility, the lawyer-client and doctor-patient relationship, and holistic problem-solving, this article offers a model of interdisciplinary medical-legal education focused on developing practitioners sensitive to the needs of diverse and disenfranchised clients and patients. It highlights a burgeoning medical-legal partnership model, now in nearly eighty sites across the country, which partners lawyers and doctors to address the underlying social determinants of health for poor children and their families. The medical-legal partnership model, which increasingly includes medical school and law school partners, provides a unique opportunity to engage law and medical students in interdisciplinary problem-solving and ethical reflection, while also expanding their understanding of complex issues of social justice and inequality in our legal and health care systems. An interdisciplinary course offered by Brown Medical School and Roger Williams University School of Law is offered as a model.