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Best Practice

Vol. 4, No. 1

On Delivery of Legal Assistance to Older Persons

July 1990

Contents Entire July 1990 Edition of Best Practice Notes Newsletter
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As a part of our activities to promote the expansion and enhancement of legal services, TCSG has, over the past two years, conducted technical assistance site visits in approximately 25 states. Through these visits, we have become increasingly aware of a weakness in the current approach to legal assistance that is common to many states, i.e., a lack of strategic, joint planning by area agency funders and legal providers. In response, we have redoubled our efforts to encourage such joint planning, for we see it as crucial to (1) effective targeting of limited legal resources to the most vulnerable groups and to the most critical issues affecting older persons, and (2) enabling area agencies to "contract for a quality legal program" rather than simply "buying a lawyer's time."

As we have continued to work with the states on these issues, the need to integrate Title III legal programs into the framework of area agencies' overall advocacy goals has become obvious. When area agencies, legal providers, and others in the aging network see themselves as indispensable partners in addressing serious societal problems confronting older persons, the value of legal services in that effort is readily apparent to all parties.

In view of the importance of legal and aging network partnerships, we are devoting this entire issue of Best Practice Notes to discussion of a very successful statewide coalition -- the Massachusetts Elderly Legal Coalition. Recognized for its success in bringing together lawyers and non-lawyers from all facets of the aging network to advance the rights of older persons, it provides a replicable model that groups across the country may wish to consider as they endeavor to strengthen their statewide systems for legal advocacy.

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The Center for Social Gerontology, Inc.
A National Support Center in Law and Aging
2307 Shelby Avenue  Ann Arbor, MI  48103
Tel: (734) 665-1126  Fax: (734) 665-2071