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Annual event helps seniors understand the law

Seniors can take part in a pro bono law clinic and learn about laws affecting the older population at Albany Law's annual Law Day.

Seniors can take part in a pro bono law clinic and learn about laws affecting the older population at Albany Law's annual Law Day.

Rose Mary Bailly has seen a lot of seniors who don’t know where to turn when they need legal advice. They worry that if they call an attorney, they’ll have to pay or they’ll be obligated to use that lawyer’s services.

Those fears can be put to rest at Albany Law School’s annual Senior Citizens’ Law Day, where, among other things, older adults can take part in a pro bono law clinic. Representatives from the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar Association and the Albany Law School Clinic and Justice Center will provide one-on-one counseling sessions. Seniors can bring any concerns and questions they have and get feedback free of charge.

Bailly said the sessions are one of the most popular aspects of the event, now in its 18th year.

“(Seniors) get a 30-minute appointment to talk to an attorney, and many of them are so prepared, they don’t need all of the time,” she said.

This year’s Law Day is Saturday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It kicks off with The Nancy M. Sills ‘76 Memorial Lecture at 9 a.m. Elizabeth Loewy, a 1984 Albany Law graduate and head of the Elder Abuse Unit for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, will give the talk, focusing on elder abuse law and domestic violence law. Recently honored as Albany Law’s Spring 2011 Alumna in Residence, Loewy oversees assistant district attorneys who prosecute more than 500 elder abuse cases each year. Bailly noted that Loewy prosecuted the Brooke Astor case, in which the New York socialite’s son was found guilty of looting his mother’s $185 million fortune.

“She will give examples of how you have to be on the alert,” Bailly said. “(Fraud) can happen with family, friends and strangers.”

When Loewy’s talk wraps up, the audience is free to check out one of the dozens of workshops being held throughout the day. Bailly, a long-time faculty member at Albany Law, rattled off some of the topics that will be covered: veterans and long-term care, an everyday guide to philanthropy (“It’s not just for very high-end, wealthy individuals,” she said), voter registration, finding a balance in your budget and how to challenge insurance denials for medical issues.

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