Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

Editor: W. Patrick Tandy

April, 2004

 

BCBA Holds Law Day for the Elderly

By Tom Breihan


At 7:30 a.m. on Saturday April 24, the Baltimore City Bar Association (BCBA) will hold its Law Day for the Elderly program, an annual education seminar for seniors, at the Wabash Division of the District Court for Baltimore City. The event is an important part of BCBA’s Law Day celebration, having taken place “for eight to ten years,” according to event organizer Tracey Harvin.

“It’s where we have a day full of vendors who provide services to the elderly members of the community,” says Harvin, who began organizing the event last year. “We also have question-and-answer sessions, seminars on topics that are of interest to seniors: public benefits, power of attorney, wills, estate planning and things of that nature. We also have a panel of volunteer attorneys. These attorneys are the ones who actually come out and provide their insight and their advice and their knowledge to seniors, caregivers and family members.”

The event is open to the public, and a continental breakfast and boxed lunches will be provided to everyone who attends. Last year, the event drew about 380 people. “This year, we hope to exceed that number and to have even more vendors and to discuss a lot of issues that are pending now, primarily nationwide, such as the changes to the Medicare prescription benefits program,” adds Harvin. “We’ve received a lot of calls on that, so we have attorneys who are going to address that in addition to other issues, such as identity theft and the growing problem of seniors raising grandchildren.”

The program is presented by BCBA and funded by the Commission on Aging and Retirement Education, but it also depends heavily on volunteer support. “It’s pretty much a collective program where we affiliate and work with the AARP and members of the Baltimore City Bar who really step up and provide services to Baltimore City seniors,” says Harvin, who is still searching for more volunteer attorneys to take part in the program. “Despite all of the help we have received from members of the Bar and the AARP and other very valuable organizations, the need is still there.”

The program is targeted specifically at Baltimore residents who are at least 60 years old and who are of limited means. “Baltimore City understandably has quite a population who meets those criteria,” comments Harvin.

With seniors facing so many new problems, their need for a working knowledge of the legal system constantly increases. “I personally believe that at least part of the growing need to provide services to seniors comes from the fact that you don’t have a family structure that may have existed in previous times,” says Harvin. “So we need as many volunteers as we can get. We’d like to network with other pro bono programs so we know where to direct seniors.”

“A lot of times seniors contact us, and they may not have a legal problem but a social work problem,” Harvin adds. “So we’d like to have a network where we can actively direct seniors so that when they call us they don’t leave empty-handed. Any assistance we can obtain from any source we would be happy to have. So they need us there, and it’s very rewarding.”

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Publications : Bar Bulletin : April, 2004

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