Students Expand Outreach through “Senior Law Day”
By Trisha Cowart, Esq., Elder Protection Fellow
On February 27, 2008, Penn State's Elder Law and Consumer Protection Clinic hosted a "Senior Law Day" for the residents of the One and Two West Penn Apartment Buildings in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The two apartment buildings have over 180 one-bedroom apartment units for individuals who are 55 or older or mobility impaired. Jean Frazier, a former student at Penn State Dickinson School of Law, who has worked as a volunteer in the past with residents, recognized the need for on-site legal services and she helped in making the arrangements, advertising and hosting the event.
The Senior Law Day was an opportunity for the residents, particularly those who use assistive devices such as wheelchairs or walkers, to have easy access to a no-cost consultation with the Clinic's certified legal interns. Law students, supervising attorneys and Professor Katherine Pearson temporarily moved the Clinic to Two West Penn's community room for the afternoon, in order to meet with older adults to discuss their legal needs. The room was large enough to permit separate "mini" consultation stations. Students were prepared to consult on several legal topics including:
- Simple wills and basic estate planning
- Consumer rights (including tenants' rights)
- Debt collection and bankruptcy
- Medicare and Medicaid
- Social Security and Disability
- Grandparents rights
Over the next few weeks the students will follow up with their new clients in order to execute the documents requested and to provide more comprehensive legal advice. Due to the success of the inaugural event the Elder Law and Consumer Protection Clinic plans on holding a "Senior Law Day" each semester.