National Cancer Legal Services Network

Who We Are

The National Cancer Legal Services Network (NCLSN) was established by LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group, through a 2008 LiveSTRONG Foundation grant. Included in the NCLSN membership are private law firms, non-profit legal aid organizations, medical-legal partnerships, bar associations, cancer support organizations, individual attorneys, social workers and patient navigator programs. The NCLSN seeks to increase the availability of legal services on behalf of low-income individuals affected by cancer. The NCLSN advocates for the provision of comprehensive cancer legal services to help individuals resolve nonmedical issues so that they may focus on their health and well-being.

In 2012, the NCLSN launched its valuable new website for people with cancer: This website, the first of its kind, makes it simple to locate much needed free legal services and features a detailed national directory of legal services organizations that serve individuals with cancer, searchable by service type, as well as location, through an interactive map. It also includes training materials and resources for those attempting to start new cancer legal advocacy programs.

Our Mission

NCLSN promotes access to healthcare and seeks to increase the availability of legal services for people living with cancer, their families and caregivers. Through direct work, educational efforts and advocacy, this multidisciplinary coalition helps to alleviate the legal and economic consequences of cancer so that those affected may focus on their medical care and quality of life. The NCLSN supports the efforts of individuals and organizations focused on meeting the legal needs of the cancer-affected community. It augments the voice of disparate services, creates a forum for established and nascent legal advocacy groups and facilitates the development of similar programs. Read more in our publication, The Cancer Cliff.

NCLSN Technical Assistance

In addition to promoting the need for targeted legal services for people with cancer, the NCLSN serves as a forum for these programs to discuss relevant health law topics, best practices, funding strategies and important policy developments, and to network with other practitioners across the country. The NCLSN holds quarterly telephone conferences to discuss cancer health law policies and best practices, as well as strategize the direction of the network. The NCLSN listserv allows people to share information and easily connect with needed resources.

In November 2012, LegalHealth hosted the second annual conference of the NCLSN.  Over 50 people were in attendance to learn about recent legal and programmatic developments that can affect patients and their families. Expert panelists covered such topics as the role of legal services in patient navigation, the implications of health care reform, developments in insurance coverage, information about program models and strategies for coping with compassion fatigue.  Keynote speaker Dr. Eric Manheimer, former Medical Director, Bellevue Hospital and author of Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital, shared what he learned as a doctor on the front lines at a major medical facility caring for cancer patients, but also dealing with his own cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

If you have questions or would like technical assistance starting your own cancer legal advocacy program, email: Randye Retkin, Director of LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group: [email protected]