Fairfax Law Firm
Request a Consultation Today 703.988.3917
What is Elder Law? Understand The Basics

What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney?

You may be wondering what a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) is. In 1988 the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) was formed to address the unique needs of the elderly and the disabled. Elder law differs from other legal specialties such as tax law or trusts and estates because its objective is to provide comprehensive services to a class of people rather than provide narrowly focused technical skills.

National Elder Law Foundation

In July of 1993, NAELA assisted in the formation of a nonprofit organization called the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). The purpose of NELF is to develop and improve the professional competence of lawyers in the field of elder law. NELF's board of directors decided to identify those lawyers who had a sufficiently enhanced level of skill and knowledge in the area of elder law, coupled with the competence to identify the elderly or disabled client's needs, and capability to either take care of the client or refer to client to someone who could help them.

NELF developed a certification program and submitted it to the American Bar Association for accreditation. The first exam was given in November 1994. In February 1995, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates accredited NELF as the certifying entity for specialization in Elder Law.

Becoming Certified in Elder Law

To become a CELA, an attorney must be:

  • In good standing
  • Have substantial involvement in the practice of Elder Law
  • Take 15 hours of continuing legal education in Elder Law each year
  • Submit to peer review
  • Successfully pass a comprehensive written examination

The CELA exam is rigorous. The pass rate has been around 60%. An attorney must apply for recertification every five years. The recertification process includes peer review, proof of continuing legal education, and demonstration of ongoing involvement in the practice of elder law.

Certified Elder Law Attorneys

The law firm of Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy, PLC, is proud to have two CELAs on its staff. Jean Galloway Ball was certified as a CELA in 1996. Loretta Morris Williams became certified as a CELA in 2008. If you wish to discuss your elder law issues with an experienced and certified attorney from our firm, we can get you started with a confidential appointment. Not only can we assist you with planning and caring for an elderly loved one, but we can also help you prepare for your future as well.

Contact a Fairfax elder law attorney to begin your case with an empathetic and understanding approach!