On October 26, 2021, the City Bar Justice Center commemorated the tremendous support of eleven volunteers, who were awarded with a 2021 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, for their remarkable commitment to our clients and for championing our team’s mission to advance access to justice. Congratulations!

Cancer Advocacy and Elderlaw Projects: Barbara A. Keller, Senior Partner at The Keller Legal Group

The Cancer Advocacy and Elderlaw Projects help cancer patients, survivors, and seniors prepare their wills and advance directives. The Cancer Advocacy Project also provides advice and assistance with cancer-related employment discrimination and unjust medical insurance denials.

Barbara is the senior partner at The Keller Legal Group, which focuses on elder law and estate planning.  Having experienced the difficulties that arise as parents age and encounter illness, she deeply understands the importance of estate planning.  Wishing to do pro bono work, she found the Cancer Advocacy and Elderlaw Projects (CAP/ELP) to be a good fit and, since joining in 2014, Barbara has devoted over 700 hours to assisting CAP/ELP clients. In particular, she has prepared estate planning documents for countless clients, sometimes in crisis situations. Among these was a woman diagnosed with a rare cancer for whom she acted quickly to prepare her documents and responded to the client’s related immigration, family, and employment questions. In another case, Barbara assisted a cancer patient with a very short life expectancy by quickly drafting the client’s documents and arranging the documents to be executed at his home. Barbara also went above-and-beyond for an elderly man who was in rehab after falling in his apartment located in a walk-up building. In addition to assisting with the client’s life planning documents, Barbara also contacted social workers to address his needs, documented the apartment’s dire conditions, and reminded the landlord of his legal duty to make it habitable – all which ultimately led to the client receiving financial assistance to move to a more suitable residence.

Barbara’s patience and willingness to look beyond the primary focus of estate planning have been greatly appreciated by clients and their families.  In addition, Barbara’s experiences have inspired her to continue seeking ways to facilitate the preparation of life planning documents.  As Barbara recalls, “I remember going to the hospital to meet [a] client and her sister was there and they had a shopping bag full of medical records and other documents and I thought – there has to be a better way for family members to help organize and assist their loved ones.”  As a result, she has built an app that allows people to create a digital library of critical medical information and advance care directives for themselves and their loved ones.

In addition to direct client work, Barbara has volunteered to serve as a speaker on life planning issues at senior centers around New York City.

Barbara has made an invaluable contribution to the lives of many CAP and ELP clients and is a worthy recipient of CBJC’s Pro Bono Award. Congratulations!