Making a Good Thing Better: When is a Hotline Not a Hotline?

by Keith Morris, President, Elder Law of Michigan

At Elder Law of Michigan, we are always looking for ways to provide better service to our clients.  Starting October 1, 2014, we will be changing the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors in response to feedback from our clients.

Beginning Wednesday, October 1, 2014, the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors will become a more traditional hotline–with our legal advocates answering the calls directly.  This will allow the client to get an immediate answer to their legal question.   If the problem is complicated or the legal advocate determines that more time is needed to help the client, an appointment is made for an advocate to call the client back.  We are even looking at sending the client information to review before the follow-up appointment.  This will also allow the client to send us any paperwork that needs to be reviewed.

One of our concerns, of course, is that we don’t want to have someone wait on hold for a long period of time.  With our new phone system, we will be offering the client an opportunity to either continue holding, or receive a callback before the end of the day.  We are also looking very closely at our staffing levels to make sure we have enough advocates available to handle the call volume.

All of our hotline staff are excited about the change.  This will allow us to help more people, but still give each client the amount of attention and service that is needed.  I am just as excited to be part of this evolution in our services.

The hotline will slightly modify its hours as well.  It will be open Monday through Thursday, 9am to noon and 1:30 to 4:30pm.

If you have any questions or comments, send me an email at

This is the first of a series of posts about the enhancements to our services.  Look for more in the coming weeks.

2108800Keith is the President & CEO for Elder Law of Michigan. He has been with Elder Law since 2001, when he started as a volunteer while in law school. In 2007, Keith became the Project Director for the Center for Elder Rights Advocacy, which was established to provide technical assistance to senior legal hotlines throughout the nation. In this role, Keith has provided advice and consultations to programs on topics ranging from intake processes to targeting of services. He is currently taking the lead on a project to develop outcome reporting for the work at senior legal hotlines.

Additionally, Keith has presented at national conferences for the past eight years on topics such as using volunteers in a hotline setting, hotline adaptations to meet community needs, and fundraising for sustainability. He has done site visits to senior legal service programs to offer his expertise on operational and management topics like designing intake processes, building community collaboratives, and doing outreach to underserved communities.

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