Volunteer Opportunities at SALA
SALA’s legal staff is comprised of five attorneys. SALA also relies upon at least 20 attorney, paralegal, and law clerk volunteers to augment the efforts of our legal staff.
These are the ways that you can volunteer your time at SALA to help with the delivery of our services:
Senior Center Intake Volunteer
SALA relies upon volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and law clerks to conduct client interviews at our appointment locations at senior centers throughout Santa Clara County. Volunteers that are bilingual are especially needed as SALA Intake Volunteers.
Several of our Intake Volunteers are retired attorneys or attorneys taking a temporary or permanence leave from active practice, so SALA participates in the Pro Bono Practice Program sponsored by the State Bar, which waives their active status bar membership dues to encourage such involvement. This is also a good opportunity for newer attorneys looking for experience or law students looking for internships during the academic year and the summer. All Intake Volunteers work under the direct supervision of an attorney on SALA’s staff.
Due to the training time involved to prepare Intake Volunteers, we ask for a minimum service commitment of six months from such volunteers, although this can be modified for summer law student interns.
SALA Elder Law Advocate
SALA also uses volunteer attorneys to provide follow up legal assistance (legal advice and advocacy) for clients seen at intake senior centers or through our telephone HOTLINE (for homebound clients or emergencies). These attorneys work directly with clients and also assist SALA’s attorney staff with drafting letters, briefs, restraining orders, and basic incapacity/end of life planning documents. They can make court appearances for SALA clients at restraining order hearings if they are admitted to the California Bar.
Attorneys that are bilingual are especially needed as Elder Law Advocates. All Elder Law Advocate volunteers work under the direct supervision and mentoring of an attorney on SALA’s staff. Elder Law Advocates that are retired attorneys or younger attorneys taking a temporary or permanence leave from active practice may also be eligible for the Pro Bono Practice Program sponsored by the State Bar.
Due to the training time involved to train Elder Law Advocate volunteers, we ask for a minimum service commitment of six months from such volunteers.
Pro Bono Service on SALA'S No Fee Wills Panel
SALA continues to recruit attorneys with estate planning experience for service on our No Fee Wills Panel, which was established in 1987. Attorneys that are bilingual are especially needed.
Pro bono Wills Panel attorneys draft Simple Wills, free of charge, for our clients with modest assets at Will Days arranged by SALA at senior centers. We ask that Wills Panel attorneys pledge service to do one senior center Will Day annually. Wills Panel attorneys can also pledge additional service to make home visits to SALA clients that are homebound or institutionalized.
All Wills Panel volunteers must be licensed attorneys in good standing with the California State Bar.
Pro Bono Service as an Elder Law Education Speaker
Wills Panel attorneys can also serve as speakers for SALA’s Elder Law Education Project on topics related to legal planning for the future at presentations arranged by SALA at our senior center appointment locations or to other organizations. Presentations provide a neutral forum for elders to have their questions answered related to wills, living trusts, and estate planning.
All Elder Law Education speakers must be licensed attorneys in good standing with the California State Bar.
Pro Bono Service on SALA’s Elder Law Counsel Panel
SALA does not have the attorney staff resources to handle all of the financial abuse and physical abuse cases that come to us. Elder Law Counsel is SALA’s targeted pro bono effort to expand services to our clientele by recruiting individual pro bono attorneys to handle a range of financial or fiduciary abuse cases in situations where our clients are not able to pay for private counsel and there are no other resources to assist them.
All Elder Law Counsel attorneys must be licensed and in good standing with the California Bar.
Law Firm Pro Bono Service For SALA Clients
SALA recently expanded our Elder Law Counsel program to work with pro bono programs at law firms to provide volunteer attorneys from the firm to represent SALA clients at Elder Abuse Restraining Order hearings in Probate Court.
We have launched these efforts at two Silicon Valley laws firms -- Cooley LLP in Palo Alto and Fenwick & West in Mountain View. Attorneys from Fenwich & West and Google also volunteered for a pro bono Power of Attorney Day organized by SALA at the Mountain View Senior Center to assist seniors with the completion of Uniform Statutory Power of Attorney forms.
SALA provides training and some supervision for law firm attorneys that undertake these pro bono efforts for our clients. The attorneys on SALA’s staff also serve as mentors, as needed, to law firm attorneys that assist with Elder Abuse Restraining Order hearings
All law firm attorneys involved in this effort must be licensed and in good standing with the California Bar.
Whom to Contact About Pro Bono Opportunities
If you or you law firm would like to volunteer at SALA, please contact Michele Schroeder, SALA’s Supervising Attorney, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (408) 295-5991.