There are specialties that come out of law school. Just many who come out of medical school – usually you do not have a general practice of law; you often specialize in something, or if you have a general practice, you have several attorneys in that practice who each have their own specialties.
In some of these specialties, you can receive certification; in others you do not. But is it really that important to be certified in a particular specialty?
In some areas of law, the certification is nice but not always necessary because that type of law is so commonly practiced that everyone who practices it for some amount of time can become very competent and trusted.
But in the area of elder law, that area geared toward seniors in terms of estate planning, long-term care and issues involving assisted-care or nursing home facilities – is a very different animal. As more mature adults tend to become more targeted, more susceptible and are more vulnerable to unscrupulous characters, getting certified as an elder-law attorney can be very important. Not only does it build a strong foundation for serving clients well, but the certification means that potential clients will be able to trust an attorney with the certification to do the very best work for the clients’ best interests.
The certification is not easy. Not just any attorney who has happened to do some elder law can apply for the certification, and even fewer of them get accepted.
So if you or a family member is reaching that “senior” age (which starts around 50) and you may or will be in need for some elder-law assistance, you can know why a certified elder law attorney (CELA) would be the right choice for you.
Why choose a CELA ahead of any attorney who happens to practice elder law? Here are some criteria for a CELA to meet before even applying for the certification
- Be a member in good standing with the bar association for all states in which you are licensed to practice.
- Be a practicing lawyer (actively) for at least five years. (Again, this is before applying for certification.)
- Must have at least 45 hours of elder law legal education in the previous three years before applying.
- Must have spent at least 16 hours per week and conducted at least 50 elder-law cases during the three years prior to the applying.
- Must be evaluated favorably at last five elder-law attorney specialists.
- Pass a full-day certification exam.
Once the certification is in place, CELAs must then get re-certified every five years. And again, the criteria above are just to get the application approved for consideration!
With this in place, you can now know that a certified elder-law attorney is the one to trust with your elder-law needs. This person specializes in elder-law issues, knows the law better than anyone and has gone through rigorous training to back it up.
For many, it’s a matter of confidence and trust. With a CELA, confidence and trust is baked right into the certification. Find your nearest CELA today and get the care, compassion and legal advice you need.