Thursday, January 10, 2019
This is the time of year when students stop by to chat. Perhaps they are first year students who want to talk about exame, or grades or class rank. But more often for me, it is students who want to talk about how to get into elder law.
Along that line, a short article written by experienced attorney Monica Franklin, a CELA in eastern Tennessee, is helpful. She begins with some values questions -- such as "do you have a social worker's soul and a nurse's curiosity?" She points to the different subject matters that can be addressed under the heading of "elder law," from what she calls the meat and potatoes of estate planning, probate and conservatorship, to th more complex areas of "public benefits, health care advocacy, and special needs trust" planning.
She recommends resources, including accreditation courses offered by the National Elder Law Foundation, cautioning that she personally found the certification exam to be "more difficult than the bar exam." But she makes it clear she also found certification worthwhile, both as a goal to increase her own knowledge base, and because the recognition that attends status as a Certified Elder Law Attorney helps her practice base.
In her own state of Tennessee, she recommends becoming familiar with the Tennessee Justice Center, a "nonprofit law firm that has served vulnerable families since 1995." Is there a similar specialized practice in your own region?
Ms. Franklin concludes that her own state "needs more qualified elder law attorneys. It is a field where governmental actors often misinterpret the law to the detriment of our most vulnerable citizens: older adults and individuals with disabilities."
For more, see So, You Want to Be an Elder Law Attorney (available on Westlaw and behind a registration firewall), published in the Tennessee Bar Journal, February 2018.