Attorneys certified in elder law offer you something that other attorneys do not: professional expertise in the unique needs of older, maturing populations. Certified Elder Law attorneys are not just authorities on legal issues affecting seniors, they are also familiar with other vital resources and services – both public and private – that can help meet the needs of senior citizens, including those with disabilities.
By choosing a Certified Elder Law Attorney® (also called a “CELA®”), you know you will receive expert advice and representation from a lawyer who has demonstrated a serious commitment to helping seniors by becoming certified in elder law.
Elder law attorneys are certified by the Board of Certification of the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF), a nonprofit organization founded in 1993. The certification program, which has frequently been referred to as “the gold standard” for elder law and special needs practitioners, identifies those lawyers who have the specialized knowledge, skills, experience and proficiency to resolve issues that affect older people. Preparation for a CELA designation includes several steps and several different types of qualification, all of which are designed to assure that clients receive good legal care. Before being certified, an applicant must:
- Have practiced law for at least five years, and have focused at least half of their practice in the special needs/elder law field for at least the last three of those years.
- Demonstrate “substantial involvement” in special needs and elder law practice, by demonstrating a minimum number of individual cases, spread across a number of different categories making up the “elder law” definition.
- Study for, take and pass a rigorous, day-long written examination. Recent pass rates have been below 50% — and that is of applicants who have already met the experience requirements.
- Undergo a review by peers and colleagues, focused on the applicant’s reputation for ethical and competent representation in elder law and special needs planning matters.
There are over 500 CELAs in the country, so not every community has even one person who has been certified. In Illinois, there are currently only 15 attorneys who have earned the CELA designation. While the Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the CELA designation is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois, the CELA designation is still a good indication that your attorney has the expertise required to resolve your elder law or special needs matter.
For assistance with your family’s elder law or special needs matter, contact a certified elder law attorney, such as Linda Strohschein and her team at Strohschein Law Group. To set up an appointment, contact Strohschein Law Group at 630-377-3241.