Pro Bono in Action: Guiding Senior Citizens through Major Healthcare Decisions

October 20, 2017

The Vision

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is the oldest and largest provider of social, legal and educational services on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Each year, the non-profit helps thousands of low-income New Yorkers, nearly half of whom are older adults, through integrated and effective programming, including two senior centers, geriatric care management for frail and homebound seniors, adult education, transportation, food services, and legal advocacy. In recent years, Dechert LLP has supported Lenox Hill Neighborhood House by helping the organization’s senior clients draw up documents related to major healthcare decisions, such as living wills and healthcare proxies.

The Approach

Dechert’s relationship with Lenox Hill Neighborhood House began in 2014 after the firm’s chairman, Andrew J. Levander, was jointly honored with Peter J. Beshar, executive vice-president and general counsel of Marsh & McLennan Companies, by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI). The organization facilitated a partnership between the two firms, whose attorneys together offered to assist Lenox Hill Neighborhood House clients.New York-based Dechert partner Lee Caney, who oversaw the first two teams of attorneys who helped Lenox Hill Neighborhood House seniors complete their healthcare documents, felt the first program was such a success that he decided to continue the relationship.

The Result

To date, Dechert has held three programs with Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. Each includes a general session presented by Dechert lawyers in which older adult clients learn more about their healthcare decision documents. Seniors are then paired with Dechert team members in one-on-one conferences to complete their documents.The Dechert team now includes partners and associates from several of the firm’s practice groups, as well as summer associates—law school students who intern at the firm for a short period of time.The team intends to continue its partnership with Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in order to help a greater number of older adults in the community who would not otherwise have access to such services.