Oklahoma and Montana – Phase I Model Approaches States Join Senior Legal Helpline Family

by Shoshanna Ehrlich

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services and Legal Aid Services of OK (LASO) are recipients of Phase I Model Approaches funding. Starting in March, 2014, the MA funding allowed LASO to convert SPLASH from a legal issue spotting and referral line to a legal helpline providing advice and placement of cases with local LASO offices when needed.

By Darwinek, via Wikimedia Commons

David Edge, LASO Staff Attorney, handles most of the calls, along with a paralegal and contract attorney. SPLASH is supervised by Mary Mosshammer, Assistant Deputy Director of LASO. Mary coordinates SPLASH and Title IIIB Services.

The Legal Services Developer, Shirley Cox, continues to provide legal information and advice, particularly on end of life issues and grandparents raising grandchildren. She fields about 500 calls per year for callers to the LSD office.  Shirley also monitors the MA Project, SPLASH, and the Title IIIB legal assistance funds. LASO is the sole provider of Title IIIB legal services in OK.

The LSD’s office is also working on legal needs and capacity assessments under the MA grant. Celina Mendoza is evaluator for the Project. She is trying to ascertain what types of calls are coming to SPLASH, what legal needs clients are reporting and to determine if and where there are gaps in services. Susan Adair, and intern with the LSD’s office is assisting with the legal needs and capacity assessments, which are nearing completion. We look forward to reading and sharing the results of these efforts.

The splashline is available 8-4 M-Th; the number is 1-855-488-6814.

By TUBS, via Wikimedia Commons

The Montana Legal Services Developer’s program is the primary provider of legal services to people over 60 and tribal members over 55 in Montana. The program provides elder law training and resources for seniors and develops pro bono and local legal services referrals.

According to John McCrea, the state’s Legal Services Developer, the MA project, through Montana AAA Legal Services, has been very successful in achieving coordination throughout the state to link clients to the Program. Clients contacting the AAAs, MT AAA Legal Services and MT Legal Services Association’s self help kiosks, as well as other organizations, are routed to the Legal Services Developer Program’s toll free line. The Assistant Legal Services Developer, Mary Beall, answers these calls – a kind of all roads lead to Mary point of entry system. Mary screens for the legal problem, provides advocacy, and coordinates with the contracted attorneys and paralegals to provide advice and assistance, respectively. These advocates are employed by or volunteer for Montana AAA Legal Services. Montana AAA Legal Services partners with the State Bar of Montana and the MT Legal Services Association.
Early in Summer 2014, CERA participated in a call with John and Mary of the Legal Services Developer Program, which is a partner in the MT Model Approaches Advisory Committee and Janice Doggett, Chair of the Advisory Committee for the MA grant, to discuss the status of MT as a possible senior legal helpline state. CERA and the MT participants agreed that the telephone assistance model employed by MT, though unique, meets the criteria for inclusion as a Senior Legal Helpline as it provides legal advice over the phone to people 60 and over.

*Updated on February 10, 2015

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