How to Become an Elder Law Attorney

Elder law deals with complex legal regulations that impact people 65 and over. Although the federal government passed the Older Americans Act in 1965 to protect the rights of older people, specific laws vary by state. Elder law deals with all issues impacting this age group. Services that fall under elder law include estate planning, healthcare power of attorney, wills, and trust, long-term care, Medicaid, Social Security, and other legal issues that affect the elderly and their families.

What is elder law? Older people sometimes need extra help when it comes to understanding legal matters that impact their future. Additionally, elder law attorneys may work with social workers and psychologists to protect their clients’ rights.

Keep reading to find out how to become an elder law attorney.

Want to Know How to Become an Elder Law Attorney?

To become an elder law attorney, students must first get into a good law school following the completion of their baccalaureate degree. in order to get into law school, candidates must take the Law School Admissions Test (L.S.A.T.) and then apply for admission to law schools approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

If they know they want to specialize in elder law, law school applicants should choose law schools that have classes pertaining to the legal rights of older people. Upon graduation from law school, newly minted lawyers receive their Juris Doctor degree. They still have one more hurdle before they can set up shop as fully qualified attorneys. Most states have bar exams that candidates must pass in order to practice in the state.

Lawyers who decide to specialize in elder law can seek certification through The National Elder Law Foundation. In order to qualify for the elder law certification, attorneys must have at least five years of experience practicing law and show proof that they have concentrated in elder law cases for the past three years. In order to achieve the certification, candidates go through at least 45 hours of training and education.

Candidates must pass a written test and obtain five references from an attorney specializing in elder law. Once attorneys achieve the elder law certification, they must renew it every five years.

What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney?

The Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) certification recognizes attorneys that set the standard when it comes to advocating for older clients and those with special needs. Elder law attorneys with a CELA certification have reached a high level of expertise in this specialization.

What is a certified elder law attorney? Let’s take a look at what CELA attorneys must do to complete their certification:

  • Attorneys can’t apply for a CELA certification until they have practiced law for at least five years. At least half of their practice must involve elder law specialization for the three years prior to obtaining their certification.
  • Candidates must show “substantial involvement” in elder law and special needs cases. They must submit proof of completing a minimum number of cases in various categories of elder law.
  • Attorneys must prepare for and pass a day-long test which has a 50% fail rate.
  • Finally, to become a certified elder law attorney, candidates undergo peer reviews that focus on the applicants’ dealings in elder law and special needs cases.

Certified elder law attorneys can use this designation to inform clients of their expertise.

How You Get an Elder Law Certificate Online?

There are several schools that offer an elder law certificate online program. This certificate is typically designed to educate practicing attorneys and other professionals who deal with issues that impact older people. For example, hospital administrators and health care professionals might seek out this certification to help them advocate for older patients. Law enforcement personnel, guardians, conservators, and social workers can also benefit from the specialized knowledge obtained in an online elder law certificate program.

From public policy professionals to consumer advocates, there are many professionals who would benefit from the knowledge obtained in an elder law course or certificate program. Attorneys in private practice or working for the government can use the training received in elder law certificate programs to help them advocate for vulnerable older citizens. Also, graduate students in healthcare administration sometimes take online elder law certification programs.

To become a certified elder law attorney, Candidates must achieve the CELA designated awarded by NELF.

Are there any Professional Associations for Certified Elder Law Attorneys?

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (NAELA) is the premier professional association for elder law attorneys. NAELA for the elderly and people with special needs.

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