The Senior Center Initiative Training ("SCI") brings CDEL staff and volunteer attorneys to senior citizen residences across Chicago and suburban Cook County to prepare Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property, as well as Living Will Declarations. Since 2007, the SCI has grown into CDEL’s signature program. In furtherance of the SCI, CDEL has conducted over 120 workshops, assisting approximately 1,800 seniors with these vital advance directive documents.
To administer the SCI program, CDEL staff attorneys and volunteers to travel to low-income senior residence facilities to conduct educational outreach presentations, teaching the residents of the facilities about CDEL and the services CDEL provides, with an emphasis on the importance of Powers of Attorney.
CDEL periodically schedules accredited CLE presentations at CDEL's offices and various law firms, as well as through Illinois Legal Advocate (although CLE credit is currently unavailable for webcasts of the presentations). The presentations provide training intended to educate attorneys on the program and how to assist seniors at the SCI Workshops complete the Power of Attorney and Illinois Living Will Declaration documents. Each participant receives a training guide (available online), which includes sample forms and step by step instructions.
The SCI Workshops are held throughout Chicago and Cook County. CDEL schedules the workshops year-round, primarily on Wednesday afternoons. Generally, volunteer attorneys travel directly to site, thus avoiding a trip downtown to CDEL’s office. At the workshop, volunteer attorneys meet one on one with seniors, where the attorneys consult with the seniors, explain the documents in detail to the seniors and draft the documents. The documents are then witnessed, notarized, copied and presented directly to the senior.
The SCI Workshops are a great opportunity to provide direct assistance to seniors in a discreet workshop setting. There is no on-going attorney client relationship. Once the documents are completed and the workshop has concluded, the attorney client relationship ends. Should the seniors have additional questions or request additional services in the future, the seniors contact CDEL directly.
The program is a good opportunity for attorneys interested in providing pro bono service to clients, but do not have the time or availability to provide long term representation. The program is also a good opportunity for retired and semi-retired attorneys, who wish to "give something back" to the community. CDEL can assist the retired attorney obtain a Supreme Court Rule 756(j) license (available to retired attorneys volunteering at non-profit legal service providers).
CDEL is also looking for volunteers to travel to the senior centers to provide the initial conduct educational outreach presentations. Complete training, speaking "scripts" and handouts for the seniors are available for this program.
For more information or to register for the CLE training, please email CDEL at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, the Sales Pitch:
Since its inception, he SCI Workshop concept has been very successful and there is a demonstrated need for expansion of the program.
- It is a positive experience for the residence facilities, as they are able to schedule an activity that provides a much needed service.
- It is a positive experience for the law firms and attorneys, as the SCI provides the opportunity for pro bono legal work in a discreet workshop.
- It is a positive experience for CDEL, as it provides CDEL with the opportunity to provide services to a large number of seniors and is an incredibly efficient use of CDEL's limited resources.
- Most importantly, the Workshop is a positive experience for the seniors, as they receive these very important legal services and legal documents at no expense in an efficient manner.
Founded in 1984 by the Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association, CDEL is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the legal rights of low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Cook County.
CDEL provides pro bono legal services through the combined efforts of a modest in-house staff and an active network of hundreds of volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and law students from top law firms and academic institutions.
In this way, CDEL services a dual mission:
- To provide legal services to low-income elderly persons and/or persons with disabilities in Cook; and
- To foster pro bono culture throughout the Chicago legal community.