Center for Elder Law & Justice (CELJ) is civil legal services agency in Buffalo, New York, serving eight Western New York counties. Since 1978, we have provided comprehensive free legal services to the community’s seniors, people with disabilities and the low income population. Our services help people maintain the essentials of life- access to health care, securing safe and affordable housing, protective services to remain free from violence, and access to sufficient income to improve their overall quality of life. We are an unrestricted provider and engage in impact litigation, as well as direct client services. Our mission is to use the legal system to help their clients live independently and with dignity.
We hold legal workshops at senior buildings and senior centers, and hold over 100 community educations events each year. In addition to our own staff, we partner with the New York State Bar Association Elder Law Section and the Erie County Bar Association’s Elder Law Committee to provide additional services to our clients. Last year, we handled over 3,500 cases and provided community education events to over 7,700 people.
As the population ages and the need for our services has grown, it was time for us to have a name that better reflects the work we do and our mission. We are a law office, but we are also much more. We believe that adding “justice” to our name conveys that we go beyond just representing people in a legal capacity- we also offer guardian and trustee services, engage in systems advocacy and have several social workers on staff to help connect people to services, all with the goal to improve our clients’ access to a better quality of life. Additionally, this new name is shorter, easier to say and remember, and better reflects the positivity of the people we serve and the staff.
No. Our mission remains the same- to use the legal system and the provision of free civil legal services to help our clients live independently and with dignity.
Yes, we will continue to help people of all ages in the same capacity that we do now. Some of our practice areas, including mortgage foreclosure prevention, kinship care and health care advocacy are open to people of all ages and will remain open to the same populations. However, seniors make up the majority of our client base.
For over a year, we worked with consultants and also surveyed staff, board members, donors and friends to determine how people view the agency and whether there were any misconceptions about the work that we do. We also reviewed client surveys for suggestions on how to improve our services and outreach. Based on the results that we received and on our research, we determined that the name Center for Elder Law & Justice best represented who we are and how we want people to see us.
We help to protect the essentials of life for our clients- access to housing, health care, protection from abuse and many other matters. However, our role goes beyond just solving problems for our clients- we help equip them with the information and services that they can use to maintain a good quality of life. Empowerment is at the core of what we do for our clients, and we truly believe that it has a positive impact on society and our community.