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National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Logo of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc., is a nationwide organization of lawyers focused on elder law and legal services for those who provide care to the elderly. 

The term "elder law" is defined to include a wide range of laws that specifically target or have a significant impact on the United States' elderly and aging population.

The term "elder law" also applies to "special needs law" which focuses on legal services for people with disabilities and their caregivers. NAELA lobbies and advocates for policies and laws that improve the lives of senior citizens and people with special needs.

NAELA is a professional organization that helps elder law attorneys share information and best practices regarding elder law and special needs law. 

The organization is also an advocacy organization that lobbies for policies and laws that protect the needs of the growing elderly population and people with disabilities.

Attorneys in the organization tend to practice in the following areas of the law:

  • Estate Planning, Probate, and Gift Taxes;
  • Entitlement Programs (Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security);
  • Guardianship and Conservatorship;
  • Retirement Benefits;
  • Age Discrimination;
  • Care Provider Abuse and Neglect;
  • Housing Issues;
  • Insurance; and
  • Long-Term Care and Disability Care Financing and Planning.

NAELA's advocacy work includes direct lobbying of elected officials and funding political efforts through their Senior Rights PAC. The organization's work also includes filing amicus curiae briefs on important cases that pertain to elder law and law for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

History of the NAELA

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys was founded in October 1987, during a meeting of elder law attorneys in San Francisco. Two years later, the organization had more than 500 members and held its first annual symposium.

NAELA began building on the success of annual meetings by organizing state chapters in 1992. That same year, the organization assisted with the creation of the National Elder Law Foundation, the first certifying entity for Elder Law.

In 2003, the board of directors voted to include special needs laws in its mission. Members founded the Senior Rights PAC in 2004 to lobby on elder law issues. 

Members began regularly traveling to Capitol Hill to speak to legislators. In 2009, the organization moved its headquarters to Washington, DC, and hired staff there.

Many members of the NAELA are also active in chapters at the state level. The largest state chapter is the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) in Florida.

Benefits of Membership in NAELA

NAELA members have access to a national network of information and best practices regarding elder law and special needs law. Benefits of joining NAELA also include:

  • Continuing Legal Education (CLE):The Academy holds two annual events, a symposium, and an advanced institute, where members can attend CLEs on a wide variety of topics.
  • ListServ:The national ListServ allows members to discuss issues and share best practices with thousands of members across the country.
  • Mentoring Program:An informal mentorship program allows lawyers who are members to ask questions and seek advice from more experienced elder law attorneys.
  • Publications:With membership comes subscriptions to the NAELA's two publications. Members also have access to informational brochures they can share with clients and potential clients.

The organization also provides a membership directory that can help the public find attorneys specializing in elder care or who focuses a significant part of their practice on elder care asset protection and other legal services for the elderly or disabled. 

The directory also provides information about members with distinction CAP, CELA or Experience listings.

Sections of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Members of the NAELA can also join a specialty section including:

  • Guardianship / Capacity
  • Health Care
  • Practice Development / Management
  • Tax
  • Advocacy / Litigation
  • Trusts
  • Health and Long-Term Care Financing
  • Special Needs Law
  • Young/New Attorneys

Founding Current NAELAMembers

  • Cynthia L. Barrett
  • Allan D. Bogutz
  • Priscilla Camp
  • Mary Z. Ceridan
  • Nancy M. Coleman
  • M. Garey Eakes
  • Bob Freedman  
  • Michael Gilfix
  • Myra G. Gilfix
  • Harley Gordon
  • Lee M. Holmes
  • Natalie J. Kaplan
  • Ron M. Landsman
  • John Lassiter
  • Tim Nay
  • William H. Overman
  • Vincent J. Russo
  • Scott R. Severns
  • Nancy Solnick
  • Barbara Wertheim
  • Judy Mero (deceased)
  • John Regan (deceased)
  • Pat Smith (deceased)

What is the Definition of Elder Law?

Elder Law is defined as the legal practice of counseling andrepresenting older persons and their representatives about the legal aspects of health and long-term care planning, the disposition and administration of older persons' estates, the conservation, older persons' legal capacity, surrogate decision-making, public benefits, and the implementation of their decisions concerning such matters,

Legal advice on elder law matters requires giving due consideration to the applicable tax consequences of the action, or the need for more sophisticated tax expertise.

Contact Information

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
1577 Spring Hill Rd., Suite 220
Vienna, VA 22182
Phone: 703-942-5711
Fax: 703-563-9504

This article was last updated on Thursday, November 14, 2019.