The Legal Services to Older Persons program is part of the Legal Clinic at the School of Law at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Through this program, senior law students, working under the supervision of experienced lawyers, are given the opportunity to provide legal assistance to persons who could not otherwise secure representation.
Students receive academic credit for their work in the Legal Clinic. The primary client population served by the Legal Clinic is those 60 years of age or older who reside in the thirteen southernmost counties of Illinois. In addition to substantial University funding, the School of Law receives continuing grants from the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging and the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois to support this project.
Who Is Eligible for Legal Assistance
Any citizen of the United States 60 years of age or older whose legal residence is Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, or Williamson county is eligible for legal assistance through the Legal Clinic.
The law establishing legal services to older persons prohibits any financial test as a condition for services. You will not be asked about your financial condition in order to obtain services. The Legal Clinic reserves the right to control the intake of cases to insure the best educational experience for the students enrolled.
Types of Services Provided
The program provides a full range of civil legal services to those 60 and over. These services include the drafting of simple wills and powers of attorney, assistance with securing public benefits and entitlements including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Veteran's benefits. In addition, the clinic handles family law (divorce, etc.) matters, consumer problems, and public utilities problems.
The clinic also assists families of those who are no longer able to care for themselves or their property with the difficult issues arising out of the need for guardianship. Attorneys and law students from the Legal Clinic provide educational and informative presentations to senior citizens on legal matters of concern to older persons. Those not accepted as clients may still benefit from the educational programs provided each year.
Types of Services Not Provided
The program does not provide legal assistance in criminal cases or provide representation in the probate of estates, commercial or business matters, cases in which an attorney's fee is determined by the amount of the recovery (fee generating or contingency fee cases), or cases which exceed the expertise of the clinic attorneys or do not provide appropriate educational experiences to the law students.
Clinic attorneys and students are governed by the Code of Professional Responsibility, as are all lawyers, and will decline to provide assistance in cases in which the client's position lacks merit.
Cost of Services
The legal services provided by this program are provided without cost to the client. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to pay filing fees, service fees, or other costs in cases brought by the clinic. Under these circumstances the client will be asked to assume these costs, if the client is able to do so.
Under no circumstances will representation be refused because a client is unable to pay these costs, and complete and thorough representation will be provided whether or not the client can pay the costs. In a typical case the filing fee runs around $300, while service fees average $60. These fees are paid to the court and sheriff, and are not retained by the clinic.
Contacting Us for Services
Call the Intake Line at 1-800-673-6130
Funded in part by the Older Americans Act through the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging. Legal Services to Older Persons does not discriminate in admission to programs or activities, or treatment of employment in programs or activities in compliance with the Illinois Human Rights Act; Title VI or Title VII or the U.S. Civil Rights Act, as amended; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended; the Age Discrimination Act, as amended; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as amended, their applicable rules and regulation pursuant thereto; and the Constitution of the U.S. and Illinois Constitution.
If you feel you have been discriminated against, you have a right to file a complaint with the Illinois Department on Aging at 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY), or contact the Civil Rights Coordinator at the SIU Legal Clinic at 1-618-536-4423.