Last year, Andrea R. Long helped bring about the Medical Legal Partnership between CoxHealth and Legal Services of Southern Missouri. The program works by bringing much needed free legal services to patients, and families of patients in the hospital and has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of those living in poverty in southern Missouri.
What inspired you to get involved in the justice system? I knew I wanted to be a lawyer from a very early age. I was adopted when I was three weeks old, and my parents were very open with me about my adoption. I was the kind of child that asked a lot of questions, and I remember asking my parents how they adopted me. My mom explained that my birthmother chose her and my dad to be my parents, and a lawyer went to court and made it official. From that point on, I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer so I could help people. After I graduated from law school, I was very fortunate to get a job with Legal Services of Southern Missouri practicing juvenile law and working with families in crisis. I am proud to have been a part of their story. To bring things full circle, I have also had the privilege to work alongside the attorney who represented my parents in my adoption 30 years ago.
What has been your favorite part of the job? My favorite part of my job is working with people and helping them in their time of need. I have been very humbled by the people that I have had the opportunity to serve, and I feel as if I walk away from each client learning something about myself and the world around me. When I was practicing juvenile law, I had a front-row seat to the horrible things that drugs can do to a person and a family. There were times that it was very difficult to watch. However, it was also rewarding to work with a family and watch the parents overcome their addiction. I have been cursed and screamed at by clients at the beginning of a case when they were using drugs, and then later publically thanked at their drug treatment graduation.
At the Medical Legal Partnership, I have been working with families dealing with many different types of medical crises. Although this is also very difficult to witness, it has also been very rewarding to be able to tell them that in their time of need Legal Services can help them at no charge. There was a single mom I helped to obtain a guardianship over her 22-year-old son who had been in a terrible car accident, an elderly gentleman with cancer I helped with a healthcare directive and power of attorney, and a grandmother, who when I called her to tell her I was accepting her case for minor guardianship of her granddaughter, starting crying and told me before I called she was considering not paying her rent so she could hire an attorney. None of these cases were extremely complex from a legal standpoint, but they made a huge difference in the lives of the people needing the help.
What is something that would surprise people about you? People are always surprised when I tell them I love dirt track racing and motocross. My father was the crew chief for a local dirt track late model team when I was growing up. We traveled the country to go racing, and I loved it. My parents would let me leave school early on Fridays so I could make it to the races, but only if all of my grades were “A”s.