Legal Counsel for the Elderly, an affiliate of AARP, provides legal services to DC residents 60 and over. Drexilla Alle, Legal Administrative Associate, and Catherine Yourougou, Staff Attorney, shared a bit about LCE’s work and how pro bono attorneys can help to maintain the safety, dignity, and autonomy of low-income seniors.
What you should know about LCE:
Legal Counsel for the Elderly provides legal services for D.C. elders. Our staff of dedicated attorneys and social workers are committed to bridging the justice gap for vulnerable D.C. elders. We fight to prevent evictions and foreclosures; we obtain Social Security, Medicaid and Veterans benefits due to our clients; we advocate for nursing home residents; we prepare wills and powers of attorney, and much more. We see clients in our office, their homes and our neighborhoods. LCE — an affiliate of AARP — helps D.C.’s elders age with dignity, self-determination, and the assurance that they have someone advocating for their rights. LCE prides itself on providing training and mentoring to all of its pro bono volunteers.
How Paladin helps support our program:
DrexillaLCE is able to use Paladin to support our pro bono program by sharing our pro bono opportunities with law firms in Washington D.C.
"With Paladin, we are able to meet and connect with new firms and attorneys. We are also able to place tough pro bono cases with those firms."
We are extremely grateful for all of the pro bono work that the firms and attorneys have done.
What I’m most proud of about our pro bono program:
DrexillaI send out the referral emails to attorneys who request new pro bono matters. I’ve seen a lot of hard and challenging cases that took us some time to place, but recently we were able to place a case that has been on Paladin for a couple months. An attorney reached out and they are able to help our client.
I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been able to place so many attorneys whom we hadn’t connected with before Paladin, or for whom it’s been a while since they took on an LCE case. I’m proud of being able to say, we’re helping these clients who are in great need.
How we’re driving innovation in pro bono:
CatherineWe do a lot of our pro bono work in estate planning — wills and powers of attorney, which require signatures and notaries. During the pandemic, we weren’t meeting people face-to-face and that created a real issue with placing these cases. We created a way for pro bono attorneys to continue seeing clients, by providing different options for remote [document] signing. There was the option of having the client sign on their own with the attorney on Zoom or FaceTime, there was remote notarization for those that qualified, and then there was simply “go outside.”
A lot of pro bono attorneys visited their clients outside, masked up, brought witnesses, just to be able to ensure that clients were getting their documents signed. Our client population is people over 60, so they were heavily impacted by the pandemic. Making sure that people were able to get their documents signed was a really good project to work on.
There was a lot of flexibility, which we’ve also continued using. During the pandemic, we did all of our trainings remotely; now we have that option of remote training, or hybrid, and we do trainings at law firms, as well. That has opened the door to more attorneys being able to participate.
What I want pro bono attorneys to know:
CatherineThere’s an opportunity for everybody. There are litigation matters, for those who want to go to court. It’s a great opportunity to learn, especially for newer associates: You will have a mentor every step of the way who will help you and guide you, explain different theories. We also have non-litigation matters that are client-based, so you get to meet with the client and really help them, without going to court. On top of that, we have research opportunities, as well. You can make real, huge impact on the systemic level, such as by doing research for future legislative changes, or developing “know-your-rights” fliers for clients.
"There’s a broad range of pro bono opportunities, so there’s something for everybody."
DrexillaThe attorneys are not on their own— pro bono attorneys have designated mentors who will help them in their litigation case or estate planning matter. Along the way, they’re not left to handle it by themselves; we’re here to help them.
Learn more about LCE and sign up to volunteer here.