By Diane Fearon
Southern Nevada Senior Law Program (“SLP”) is a legal assistance organization that provides no-cost, quality legal services to seniors aged 60 years and older with the greatest economic and social needs.
We help over 2,600 at-risk, older adults each year with direct services and another 2,100 seniors with outreach education in senior centers and senior communities.
There is no income qualification to receive legal services from SLP, which allows us to help low-income seniors along with tight fixed-income seniors who may not qualify for a poverty-based program. It is estimated that 25% of people with a legal need qualify for a low-income-based program, and 35% of people can afford to hire a private attorney. This leaves 40% of vulnerable, older adults with nowhere to go for an $800 problem that a private attorney would have to charge $1,000 to do anything about it.
The largest volume of legal services provided to our clients is related to basic estate planning, with an emphasis on the “Power of Attorney for Health Care” (POAH) document. SLP offers basic estate planning/POAH clinics in English six to eight times per month in our office located at Sahara and Buffalo for groups of eight to 12 seniors. In September 2023, we launched a Spanish clinic for groups of six to eight seniors and anticipate making this available once per quarter beginning in 2024. We are grateful for the senior advocate pro bono attorneys who have volunteered to present at these clinics, where 70% of the attendees complete their POAH, which is invaluable to them and their loved ones financially and emotionally. By becoming a senior advocate and committing to present at three two-hour clinics per calendar year, the attorney earns two CLE credits for service and up to two additional CLE credits for training to become a presenter. Many attorneys choose to volunteer for more than just the three clinics in a year because they enjoy helping seniors, and they recognize how valuable it is to free up our staff attorneys’ time to work on case matters involving evictions, elder abuse and/or exploitation, victims of scams or fraud, Social Security issues, merchant disputes, and more.
Because of the caring pro bono attorneys who have chosen to help SLP help more seniors, we have increased the number of seniors served on an annual basis by 24% and have reduced the average wait time for clients to four and a half months, from six months previously.
Please volunteer your valuable time in making a difference for any of the legal aid organizations that are a match for your priorities, or make a financial contribution in lieu of pro bono for the benefit of our community and its most disadvantaged individuals.
About the author
Diane Fearon joined Southern Nevada Senior Law Program (SLP) as Executive Director in January 2021. Her background includes serving as a community bank CEO as well as executive roles in various nonprofit organizations. She is committed to ensuring that vulnerable seniors have access to justice.
About the article
This article was originally published in the Communiqué (Dec. 2023), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2023/communique-december-2023/
© 2023 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.