We are in Atlanta for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) annual conference. As a past national and New York State chapter president, I enjoy going to the NAELA conference to learn with colleagues from across the country. At its heart, NAELA is dedicated to the well-being and protection of our seniors and those with special needs and to me, there is no better reason to be an attorney.
This year is the 25th anniversary of NAELA, so I will be among the past presidents to be recognized for our contributions to the organization and the practice of Elder Law. In the past twenty-five years, NAELA has accomplished a great deal, and I am proud to be a part of this national organization. Some of our accomplishments:
We brought many issues facing seniors and those with special needs to the forefront.
We established a set of aspirational standards for Elder Law attorneys. We felt strongly that simply meeting the basic professional codes of responsibility is not enough in this area of law, where our constituents are vulnerable and need our protection and wise counsel. NAELA works to raise the bar and calls for our members to serve the senior community in the most professional and ethical way possible.
NAELA created the phrase “Elder Law” to mean much more than Medicaid planning.
NAELA is now a well-known and respected entity on Capitol Hill. Our members are invited to testify before House and Senate committees on the plight of seniors, the aged, and special needs individuals and families. We have met with Presidential advisors on the grounds of the White House, which is always exciting but more importantly, demonstrates that NAELA is taken seriously at the highest levels of government.
NAELA worked with the American Bar Association to sanction specialization as a CELA – Certified Elder Law Attorney. Few attorneys attain this credential, and I am pleased that I do.
Today, there are NAELA chapters in 27 states that deal with local issues, including state legislation that affects seniors. As a former president of the New York State chapter, I am extremely proud of the efforts of our chapter, working in tandem with the Elder Law section of the NYS Bar Association, in preventing cuts to benefits and creating stricter eligibility requirements to ensure that those who need assistance receive it.
In the first 25 years, NAELA has accomplished a great deal – and we will still have more work to do.