The National Elder Law Foundation describes the CELA certification as "the gold standard" for elder law and special needs practitioners. Why? There are only around 400 CELAs in the country that meet the stringent criteria (see list below), and who are therefore qualified enough to hold the valued designation.
What does an attorney need before he or she can be qualified as a CELA?
- Have practiced law for at least five years, and have focused at least half of their practice in the special needs/elder law field for at least the last three of those years.
- Demonstrated "substantial involvement" in special needs and elder law practice, by demonstrating a minimum number of individual cases, spread across a number of different categories making up the "elder law" definition.
- Studied for, take and pass a rigorous, day-long written examination. Recent pass rates have hovered around 50% -- and that is of applicants who have already met the experience requirements.
- Undergo a review by peers and colleagues, focused on the applicant's reputation for ethical and competent representation in elder law and special needs planning matters.
When you look for someone to handle important details in your life, you naturally look for the very best. Whether it be a dental surgeon when you need a root canal, an automotive repair professional to replace your brakes, or a tutor for a special needs child, of course you want the very best that money can buy.
Not everyone is qualified to give Medicaid advice. Before moving forward with an attorney, ask about their credentials and training. Keep in mind that a CELA certification is confirmation that your lawyer is “more than just qualified” and that you are getting “the best legal representation available.” (source: The National Elder Law Foundation)
Evan H. Farr is a Certified Elder Law Attorney*, best-selling author, and creator of the Living Trust Plus™. He is one of the leading Elder Law Attorneys in Virginia and foremost legal authorities in the Country in the field of Medicaid Asset Protection and related Trusts. Our firm is dedicated to helping protect seniors and their families by preserving dignity, quality of life, and financial security. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call The Fairfax Elder Law and Estate Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.
Certified Elder Law Attorney
*Virginia has no procedure for approving certifying organizations.