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What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney?

Certification as an elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF) requires an attorney to demonstrate significant knowledge and experience in the vast aspects of elder law.   

An attorney applying for CELA certification must have been in practice for a minimum of five years.  He or she must have devoted a minimum of sixteen hours per week within the past three years to the practice of elder law.  The attorney must also demonstrate thorough knowledge in thirteen different substantive areas of the law affecting the elderly and persons with disabilities.  The areas are:

•health and personal care planning

•pre-mortem legal planning

•fiduciary representation

•legal capacity counseling

•public benefits advice

•advice on insurance matters

•resident rights advocacy

•housing counseling

•income, estate and gift tax advice

•employment and retirement advice

•counseling about tort claims against nursing homes

•age or disability discrimination claims

•litigation or administrative advocacy related to the above matters

 There is a comprehensive one-day, closed book, written examination covering those areas of practice.  The test is so difficult that the pass rate is only about 60%.

 The attorney must show that he or she has attended at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in elder law during the last three years.  Five attorney references are required.  Re-certification is required every five years to ensure the attorney’s skills are current. 

 For more information, please visit the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys website for an Overview of Certification.   For more information on the NELF requirements for certification, please visit:  http://www.nelf.org/becoming-certified/qualifications-summary/

 NELF’s certification program for CELAs has been accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).  For more information on the ABA accreditation standards and requirements for a certification program, please view the ABA Standing Committee on Specialization's Guide to Lawyer Specialty Certification.