Lawyer Monthly - October 2022

that if you do narrow your practice to help clients protect their assets, plan for the potential of long-term care or help in crisis Medicaid planning situations, there are a lot of good resources available that you should utilize to help you learn the practice area. For instance, joining the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is a good way to network, learn from the educational opportunities offered, and meet others in your jurisdiction who may also be elder law practitioners and who may be able to mentor you. If you do not find a mentor, it is a good idea to at least have an experienced practitioner that you can either cocounsel with on your first couple of cases or at least be able to call and ask for specific guidance. One thing I learned quickly after transitioning from litigation is that people in this field are often very willing to help if you just ask. I also learned that I was much more comfortable when I asked for assistance or had an opportunity to bounce ideas off someone. Also, companies like ElderCounsel offer hands-on workshops, continuing legal education programs and drafting software. ElderCounsel is not the only option available, but companies like them can take you from day one of declaring your intention to practice elder law all the way through being an experienced elder law attorney churning out trusts and other documents that provide the foundation of many elder law practices. Again, if you do not have experience in this area of law, it is well worth the time and expense to learn what you are doing as you get started. What ethical considerations need to be taken into account while working in elder law? Ethical considerations are of utmost importance in elder law. The main reason for this is – unlike in most other areas of law – the most basic question of “Who is my client?” is not always easy to ascertain in an elder law matter. Often when an older person is involved, that person’s child or spouse or other family member will be the one contacting you. Of course, the situation and type of matter they present are important, but if you decide the matter is worth your time, you always need to meet alone with the elderly person who is the subject of the issue if at all possible. This must be done to determine if they are competent and aware of what is happening and are able to make their own decisions. There are guides available from the American Bar Association and from the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel to guide attorneys in determining how to assess the competency of a potential client and how to handle all the ethical situations involved with such representation. In addition, of course, you must always consult the Professional Rules of Conduct in your particular jurisdiction. In elder law, once you have determined the capacity limitations of your client and gauged the interests of other family members, you must remain vigilant 64 LAWYERMONTHLYOCTOBER 2022

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