Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

June, 2004

PHILADELPHIA BAR 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 hospital rooms.

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.”

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: June, 2004

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