The Importance of Elder Law Certification*

A Certified Elder Law Attorney is more than just an attorney who specializes in the field of elder law. CELAs are committed, through certification, to maintaining and improving their proficiency with continual practice and continual legal education. Becoming certified in elder law validates a lawyer’s specialty to handle issues that affect senior citizens. A CELA is in a unique position to serve the interests of older, maturing populations by having met comprehensive and strict requirements.

Requirements for Certified Elder Law Attorneys:

  • Be licensed to practice law in at least one state or the District of Columbia.
  • Be actively practicing law and must have practiced law for at least five years prior to applying for certification.
  • Be a member in good standing of the Bar Associations in all places where he/she is licensed.
  • Have participated in at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in elder law during the three years preceding the application.
  • Be favorably evaluated by five elder law attorney specialists.
  • Have spent an average of at least 16 hours a week practicing elder law during the three years preceding the application for certification. The attorney must also have handled at least 60 elder law matters during those three years with a specified distribution among a wide variety of topics.
  • Pass a one time full day certification examination.
  • Repeat an elder law certification process every 5 years.

An elder law attorney must be fully aware of the applicable tax consequences of any action, or will recommend the need for more sophisticated tax expertise if needed.

Attorneys certified in elder law will also readily recognize areas of concern that may arise during counseling and representation relating to the following issues:

  • Abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older or disabled person
  • Employment
  • Retirement
  • Long-Term Care
  • Insurance
  • Housing

Why is Certification in Elder Law so Important?

Attorneys certified in elder law offer you something that other attorneys do not: professional expertise in the unique needs of an older, maturing population. 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 their 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. NELF is dedicated to developing and improving the professional competence of lawyers in the focused area of elder law and special needs.