Washoe County Senior Law Project
General Overview of Available Services
Phone - (775) 328-2592
Fax - (775) 328-6193
Delivery of Legal Services
The Senior Law Project has developed a number of informal and formal working relationships with other attorneys, many of whom are willing to provide their services for a reduced rate or on a pro bono basis. The SLP will usually consider the availability of such resources before agreeing to provide representation.
The SLP provides its legal assistance in a range of ways. Though some issues are only resolved through litigation, many are resolved by negotiation with another party to resolve an impasse. However, legal assistance in the nature of counsel and advice assists the client to understand the situation and what courses of action are available. For the most part, its staff of two attorneys, two paralegals and a variety of volunteers provides the bulk of the services. However, to the extent available, the SLP uses private attorneys willing to provide their services on a pro bono basis. On an average fiscal year the SLP provides direct assistance concerning over 2,500 legal problems.
Many of the frail elderly that the SLP represents are either homebound in their own home or some congregate living setting. Thus, 40% of one paralegal's time is allocated to interviewing and facilitating much of the interactions with such clients in the client's home or hospital.
The SLP is frequently appointed by the court to represent lower-income, elderly persons in guardianship actions. In addition to insuring a better quality of guardianship, and sometimes more freedom and independence, the efforts of the SLP frequently result in less restrictive placement for the elderly ward. Not only is the elder better off, but also society at large is benefited through reduced Medicaid costs related to nursing home care.
The SLP addresses a number of issues through policy advocacy in rulemaking proceedings and before legislative bodies. For example, in the consumer area, the SLP is often pressing the Public Utilities Commission to preserve the few benefits such as energy conservation and rate relief programs for those experiencing financial hardship, which has served fixed-income seniors over the years. Such advocacy has become even more crucial during the onset of retail competition in the telephone, gas, and electric industries.
Frequently, where the SLP encounters the same set of circumstances, such as the debilitating isolation of the frail elderly, it spearheads a solution. Recently, Despina Hatton, Directing Attorney for the SLP, stimulated interest and involvement of others to form a voluntary court mediated visitor program, Special Advocates For Elders (S.A.F.E.). For more information about this program or how to become a volunteer, please contact Debbie VanVeldhuizen at (775) 325-6717.
The Senior Law Project provides a wide variety of services depending on need and type of problem. Legal services provided include:
|Brief Service - e.g. resolving a problem with an agency or repairing a relationship with a landlord|
|Representation in many administrative agencies and on a limited number of judicial matters, which is assessed on a case-by-case method|
|Public Policy Forum assist seniors with revisions to local and state polices such as landlord/tenant legislation|
|Home visits to aid the provision of services to the homebound|
Services Not Provided
There are a number of areas of the law in which the Senior Law Project does not provide any services. However, referrals will be made to the extent we are aware of low or no-cost resources:
|Representation of plaintiffs in personal injury actions, including medical malpractice|
|Representation in real estate sales and purchases|
|Representation in a divorce action|
|Advice regarding coverage of insurance policies|
|Creation of Trusts|
There are a great many other areas in which we will provide counseling services, assessment and brief service on, but not legal representation in a court action . If the individual still wishes to pursue litigation, the SLP will assist the individual to find an appropriate attorney or if available, a low or no-cost options. Such areas include, but are not limited to:
Guardianships over children
Persons seeking a guardianship over an elderly person
Income tax litigation
Wrongful termination from employment
We do not provide representation in small claims matters because these courts are designed to be easy to use for non-lawyers. However, we will provide limited consultation on such matters. Persons wishing to file small claims against another, or are engaged in disputes with others, may consider contacting the
Our Case Priorities
These are general categories of law within which the SLP provides most of its representation. If a legal problem is outside these areas, it will be considered on a case by case basis.
The SLP provides representation in Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and food stamp matters. It also provides assistance concerning Medicare and Medicaid issues and in matters to obtain access to health services.
The SLP develops a number of documents for its clients including Durable Powers of Money Management, Health Care Decisions, and Living Wills. We also provide assistance in preparing a simple Will either in-house or through a panel of pro-bono attorneys.
Representation is provided to enforce federal and state consumer laws such as fair debt collection, fraud, and credit access and in instances where the elderly have been exploited. The SLP also provides advice and assistance to those who have substantial debt and whose income or assets may be subject to garnishment or attachment. The SLP will provide representation in matters concerning utility services.
The SLP provides representation in cases were the individual risks losing their subsidized housing and where fair housing rights are being affected. The SLP provides representation in certain landlord/tenant disputes including evictions and provides advice concerning most landlord tenant issues. We can also assist in preparing documents such as Homestead Declarations, Affidavits of Death of a Joint Tenant, and mobile home title transfers.
The SLP intervenes in case of elder abuse to eliminate the power that the abuser has over the elderly client and, represents elderly citizens who wish to resist an imposition of a guardianship or who seek better treatment from their guardian. The SLP will consider most cases of discrimination against the elderly including those relating to housing, public accommodations, and access to credit.