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Law School News

South Texas College of Law Houston Receives Texas Bar Foundation Grant to Enhance Legal Assistance to the Elderly

The Texas Bar Foundation recently awarded South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston) a $5,000 grant to enhance the delivery of legal services to the elderly.

The grant will fund a new program — the Aging and Elder Abuse Initiative — in the law school’s Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics to address the service gap in meeting the needs of seniors to prevent financial abuse and fraud.

Funds will support community education and legal training activities, as well as the production of a resource guide for elderly individuals seeking community support.

“We are grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for this grant,” said Catherine Greene Burnett, vice president, associate dean, professor of law, and director of the law school’s Pro Bono Honors Program. “The elderly are such a vulnerable group in this era of financial abuse. The shift to primarily online-based resources sometimes leaves this group behind. When family members or trusted companions are the abusers, it often is that very person who navigates the victim’s computer world for them. So, for a while at least, there’s a community need for old-school print medium work. With this grant, we will be able to produce a resource guide for the elderly community.”

According to the Texas Bar Foundation, elder abuse can take many forms, with the state currently experiencing an increasing need and growing gap in service for financial abuse and fraud. To combat this problem, communities across the region are prioritizing the inclusion of elderly abuse as a key topic in their community plans. Increasingly, elderly individuals are falling victim to scam artists who gain access to bank accounts, property assets, and other valuables.

STCL Houston students, faculty, and staff members in the Clinics currently are working on a collaborative program with other service providers in Houston to educate and train community members about the risk of elder abuse, how to identify it, and how to protect at-risk individuals.

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably funded bar foundation.