News and Information
May 30, 2006

Jill A. Hanken Wins the Virginia State Bar’s 2006 Legal Aid Award

Jill A. Hanken, a familiar face at the State Capitol for her advocacy on behalf of low-income people — particularly in the area of health law — will receive the 2006 Legal Aid Award from the Virginia State Bar’s Special Committee on Access to Legal Services. The award recognizes innovation and creativity in advocacy, experience and excellence in service, and impact beyond the winner’s service area. It will be presented during the VSB’s annual meeting June 15–18 in Virginia Beach.

Hanken has spearheaded many efforts to promote and improve health insurance programs for low-income people, often by establishing coalitions with other organizations. “Many Virginians receive the health care they need as a direct result of Jill’s efforts over the years,” according to the nomination letter signed by several legal services lawyers.

She convinced the General Assembly to change income guidelines and other eligibility rules so that more pregnant women, children and disabled or aged adults could qualify for Medicaid. She helped develop Virginia’s new program that insures more children in low-income working families, and has since worked to simplify the application process and eliminate waiting periods and other barriers to enrollment.

She also successfully advocated amending the Administrative Process Act so that people who received denials for Medicaid and other public assistance can appeal to court.

Meanwhile, as a career legal services attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Hanken has argued many important and far-reaching cases on behalf of poor people, including one case in the U.S. Supreme Court. She regularly assists other advocates with their cases and provides training on Medicaid issues. “She is, quite simply, the best instructor on healthcare law in Virginia,” wrote Steven L. Myers of the Virginia Legal Aid Society.

In 1977 Hanken received her law degree from Boston College and began working with legal services in South Carolina. She joined the Virginia Poverty Law Center in Richmond in 1980. After two years as an administrative law judge for the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, she returned to the Poverty Law Center as a staff attorney specializing in health law.

The Virginia State Bar is the government agency that regulates the legal profession. It is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia. It is supported through the licensing dues paid by all Virginia lawyers, and it is governed by a council of attorneys elected or appointed from every judicial circuit in the state.


posted May 30, 2006



Updated: Aug 06, 2012