Equal Justice Works Fellow to Launch Southern California’s First Medical-Legal Partnership for Asian & Pacific Islander Communities
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and Community Medical Wellness Centers USA collaborate to host innovative project that centers race and culture to address health disparities
Los Angeles, CA – The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) is proud to host an Equal Justice Works Fellow who will pilot Southern California’s first medical-legal partnership (MLP) dedicated to serving Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community members. The MLP clinic, located at Community Medical Wellness Centers USA (CMWC) in Long Beach, will address health inequities in the local underserved API population through culturally sensitive, linguistically appropriate, and holistic legal services.
This week, Equal Justice Works — the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law — named its 2022 class of Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellows. Bavani Sridhar, a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, will lead the creation and implementation of the MLP clinic over the course of her two-year fellowship project. In addition to providing direct legal services, she will conduct legal screening trainings for healthcare staff and host legal services.
“As a first-generation South Asian immigrant, I have witnessed the lack of holistic, culturally informed care in both the clinical health and legal settings,” said Bavani. “This API-focused medical-legal partnership will center the lived experiences and specific needs of the API community in a time where this community is in need of targeted care. I am excited to be returning to Southern California, my childhood home, to utilize my education and experiences to create an innovative program that will serve the community that served me so well.”
The clinic will target the historically underserved API community in Long Beach, which includes a significant Cambodian population. According to the U.S. Census, there are nearly 30,000 Khmer speakers in Los Angeles County, most of whom are concentrated in the greater Long Beach area. Seventy-five percent speak a language other than English at home, and 50% are limited English proficient (LEP). Cambodians make up the largest LEP group after Spanish speakers in Long Beach.
“Bavani’s project fits squarely within LAFLA’s mission because it will allow LAFLA to reach out to an underserved population within the API community and in a location where clients are comfortable accessing services,” said Managing Attorney Brenton Inouye, who oversees LAFLA’s API Community Outreach Project, one of the first legal aid programs in the nation dedicated to API community members. “Our hope is to provide purposeful legal intervention for this historically underserved community as they continue to face obstacles such as language barriers, generational poverty, and systemic racism.”
“Medical-legal partnerships have proven to be an effective service model for integrating legal assistance into patient care for the most vulnerable of individuals to achieve transformative justice,” added Managing Attorney Ronnette Ramos, who oversees LAFLA’s nationally recognized Medical-Legal Partnerships program. “The race- and culture-based tools that Bavani develops to specifically address injustices can be utilized by other advocates within LAFLA and other programs servicing these populations in a medical-legal partnership setting.”
“CMWC has a longstanding relationship with LAFLA’s API Community Outreach Project and has often referred cases to LAFLA due to LAFLA’s reputation for providing linguistically and culturally sensitive legal services for the Cambodian population,” said CMWC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Sompia Paigne. “Bavani’s project realizes our mutual desire to provide legal services onsite to provide our patient population a low barrier to accessing legal assistance.”
Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP (MTO) and Amgen are sponsors of Bavani’s Equal Justice Works Fellowship.
“MTO is proud to continue our long-term partnership with LAFLA and EJW and join with our friends at Amgen to sponsor Bavani Sridhar as an EJW Fellow,” said Laura D. Smolowe, Partner at MTO. “We are excited about Bavani’s work serving the API community with the medical-legal partnership project, and we cannot wait to see what she accomplishes.”
“Amgen is pleased to serve as a co-sponsor of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship as it aligns with our commitment to supporting efforts focused on equitable healthcare and social justice,” said Jon Graham, General Counsel at Amgen. “Bavani’s work, in conjunction with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, will fill a vital need for improved and innovative medical-legal partnerships.”
About Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) is a nonprofit law firm that seeks to achieve equal justice for people living in poverty across Greater Los Angeles. LAFLA changes lives through direct representation, systems change, and community empowerment. It has five offices in Los Angeles County, along with four Self-Help Legal Access Centers at area courthouses, and three domestic violence clinics to aid survivors.
About Community Medical Wellness Centers USA
Community Medical Wellness Centers USA (CMWC) is a non-profit, federally qualified health center serving the communities in Los Angeles, California. The CMWC clinic offers patients high quality patient care and health education to those under-served and uninsured in Southern California.
About Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
For nearly 60 years, Munger, Tolles & Olson attorneys have partnered with clients on their most complex matters. With a deep bench that includes former governmental luminaries and over 155 former federal judicial clerks, its attorneys have extensive experience handling precedent-shaping cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, and federal and state courts across the country. The firm also has a rich legacy of providing full-service legal counsel on corporate matters ranging from industry-altering mergers and acquisitions to complex financing transactions and corporate governance issues. It has earned its reputation by providing clients with exceptional judgment, creative thinking, and a deep commitment to understanding the complexities of their businesses and industries.
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology. Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people’s lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be one of the world’s leading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential.