HONORS MSBA'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
~Carlin's Vision of SeniorLAW Center Celebrated~
By Janet Stidman Eveleth
|"[T]he SeniorLaw Center (SLC)
continues to provide more legal services to the elderly in
Philadelphia than any other agency. Who would have known in 1978 that
the SLC would grow to be such a beneficial, well-respected program?"
Paul V. Carlin
MSBA Executive Director
and SLC Co-Founder
When MSBA Executive Paul V.
Carlin began his bar association career in 1975 as the Director of Legal
Services for the Philadelphia Bar Association (PBA), he had a vision. On
May 19, 2004, this vision, the SeniorLAW Center (SLC), was honored during
the Center’s 25th anniversary celebration, along with founders Paul Carlin
and PBA Executive Director Kenneth Shear. At this special event, held in
Philadelphia’s Independence Visitor Center, Carlin was applauded for his
awareness of the special legal needs of the elderly and his vision to
create an exclusive agency to address them.
For the last 25 years the SeniorLAW Center
(SLC) has provided free legal services to more than 200,000 senior
citizens in Philadelphia. Over the years, this valuable senior resource
has advocated on behalf of the elderly, saving their homes, protecting
them from violence, exploitation and consumer fraud, helping them plan
their health and financial care and assisting those who are raising
children as grandparents.
This effective senior resource was Carlin’s
vision 25 years ago when he sought a way to provide critically needed
legal services to the elderly, many of whom face poverty in their old age.
Today, the Center’s eight staff attorneys and panel of volunteer pro bono
attorneys serve seniors in the communities in which they live, at
neighborhood legal clinics throughout the city and in their homes and
In the mid-1970s, Carlin learned about an
American Bar Association survey indicating senior citizens were highly
underserved by legal services agencies. Further scrutiny revealed that
Philadelphia’s large elderly population was in need of legal services to
protect their rights. Carlin immediately began researching ways to address
this pressing need. He envisioned an agency catering to the legal needs of
seniors and the Senior Law Center was conceived.
Carlin’s quest for federal funding led to
the creation of the Senior Citizen Judicare Project, the predecessor of
the SLC, in 1978. Working with two law students, Carlin wrote the original
grant request and it was soon awarded. He was instrumental in hiring the
staff, organizing the program and launching the project in record time.
Through this innovative Judicare program, volunteer attorneys provided
free legal service to senior clients in their local neighborhoods.
Today, Carlin’s Judicare project, now know
as the SeniorLAW Center, serves 9,000 seniors a year. It has grown into a
legal services agency that offers the elderly a wide range of free,
critically needed services. In addition to free legal representation, it
provides advice, information, counsel and referral services and educates
senior citizens about their legal rights. Carlin’s vision of a way to
assist Philadelphia’s senior citizens has been realized.
“The 25th anniversary celebration was a
great success,” Carlin states. “I was honored to be remembered and elated
that the SeniorLAW Center continues to provide more legal services to the
elderly in Philadelphia than any other agency. Who would have known in
1978 that the SLC would grow to be such a beneficial, well-respected
program?” Carlin was also very impressed with the 25th anniversary SLC
video “highlighting the diligent and responsive services the Center
provides to the seniors in Philadelphia.”