Board of Directors


Robert M Bastress, Esq. President WVU College of Law Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Beverly D Kerr, Esq. Secretary WVU Former Deputy General Counsel
Michael Sharley, Esq. Treasurer
Private Practice Attorney
Eric D Rankin, PhD Member WVU Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry Professor, School of Medicine
Jon Hunter Member West Virginia State Senate 14th District, 2005-2008
vacancy Member
Kathleen Kennedy, MPH Member West Virginia Caring Chaplain
Leslie Bakker Member SAGEUSA Volunteer
Bob Cohen, Esq. Member Retired Commissioner Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission 2008-2018, former lawyer in private practice in WV


WVSLA provides free civil legal services for senior West Virginians age 60 and over.
Client Eligibility

Any West Virginia resident age 60 or over is eligible for our services. Unlike many legal services programs we do not have income limits. We seek to serve the most socially and economically needs seniors in WV, but we understand that income is not the only measure of neediness. We provide at least legal information to any eligible client. But in order to target our scarce resources to the seniors who need us most we provide higher levels of service, including legal advice and legal advocacy, to seniors who are low-income, minority, disabled, very rural, LGBT, or very elderly.

Third-party Callers

We support the autonomy of seniors to remain independent and in control of their own lives. We also must abide by the legal profession’s ethical rules regarding who is our client, client loyalty, and avoiding conflicts of interest. Therefore the senior him or herself must contact us for legal help. We cannot provide any assistance through a third party except in limited circumstances as an accommodation to disability. For example, if your mother needs legal assistance to deal with a consumer problem, please do not contact us on her behalf. Even if you handle her bills for her, have Durable Power of Attorney, or she wants you to call us, please encourage her to contact us herself. In order for us to help her we need for her to contact us to ask for assistance, direct us about how she would like our help, and determine her goals regarding the matter. If she cannot contact us herself because she has a hearing deficit and can’t use the phone, or because her mental capacity is diminished, you may contact us on her behalf.

Accessing our services: a statewide senior legal hotline

Many seniors in West Virginia have transportation problems, but nearly every senior West Virginian has access to a telephone. We have chosen to make our services available by telephone rather than requiring our clients to come to a physical office. You can also email us for legal help, if you prefer. If you need assistance accessing us, perhaps because you have no phone or email or because you have trouble communicating by phone, you may also contact your local county senior program to get help contacting us.

What you can expect when you call our statewide senior legal hotline:


West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc., would like to acknowledge its appreciation for the special contributions made by everyone who devoted his or her time to the creation of the original manual and this updated and expanded Twenty Second edition. First, we thank Kayla Aungst, our summer legal intern. Kayla did a fantastic job, in a short period of time, editing, updating, and researching.

We thank the many people who have worked on previous editions of the manual, including Julie Myers, Katherine Ward, Phil Wachowiak, Laura Lee Partington, Wes Peterson, Abbe Klezer, Robb Livingood, Sarah McDaniel, Melanie Hoover, Lindsey Saad, Peggy Blanchard, Mindy Parsley, Cassandra Means, Terrilyn Cheatham, Paige Ward, Tonya Michael, Christine Krantz, Melissa Carlton, Velma McClure, Rocky Schrecongost, Megan Carpenter, Rhonda McIntyre, Laryn Ullman, Marc Ingham, Kirsten Nelson, Suzanne Messenger, and Bren Pomponio.

We also want to acknowledge and thank the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest at West Virginia University for the Fellowship, which enabled all our PIA Fellows to annually update this manual. This Fellowship has made the creation and maintenance of this manual a reality. We also thank the Carl Selinger Human Rights & Public Interest Fund, the federal Administration on Aging, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, and the Northwestern Area Agency on Aging for providing grant money, and the many individuals whose donations make the production and distribution of this manual possible.

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc., takes full responsibility for any errors in this manual. We appreciate all the work and assistance provided by the people and groups acknowledged above. We could not have finished this project without them, but we are completely accountable for any mistakes. If you find errors in this edition of the manual please let us know. You can use this Revision Form if you like. We appreciate your input.

Our Mission

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free civil legal services and counsel to senior West Virginians age 60 and older. We focus on economically or socially disadvantaged, disabled, and rural seniors. We strive to secure justice for, and to protect the legal rights of, these needy people; to employ attorneys to assist in furthering the purposes of the organization; to engage the private bar in assisting us to further these purposes; and to be a significant elderlaw resource for all of West Virginia.

Our History

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid began in 1967 at North Central West Virginia Legal Aid Society (NCWVLAS). NCWVLAS was a traditional poverty law program, providing attorneys to represent poor West Virginians in legal crisis and other important cases. NCWVLAS covered an 11 county region in north central WV, cooperating with programs covering other areas of the state such as Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, Charleston Legal Aid Society, and the West Virginia Legal Services Plan. As the federal funding for legal services nationwide came under attack in 1994, NCWVLAS assumed the role of providing services exclusively to needy senior West Virginians throughout the entire state.

We changed our name to reflect our dedication to our state’s elderly in 1999, becoming West Virginia Senior Legal Aid.  We enjoy the support of the federal Administration on Aging, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, the Northwestern Area Agency on Aging, the Upper Potomac Area Agency on Aging, the Appalachian Area Agency on Aging, the Metro Area on Aging, the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest, the West Virginia Regional Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, and donations.