As you may know, our Managing Attorney Andrew Sykes is certified as an elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation (the only organization recognized by the American Bar Association to offer elder law certification).
To achieve the designation of Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA for short), an attorney must meet a number of requirements:
- Pass a demanding written test
- Show experience with a broad range of elder law matters, such as estate planning, representation of fiduciaries (executors of estates, trustees, agents under power of attorney, and so on), advising on retirement, planning for public benefits (Medicaid, Medicare, veterans benefits, and the like), helping clients with health care directives (“living wills”) and questions of legal capacity, advocating for clients in court or administrative proceedings, and similar matters.
- Attend at least 45 hours of continuing legal education courses pertaining to elder law over a three-year period
- Produce references attesting to the candidate’s integrity and fitness to be certified as an elder law attorney
- Show membership in good standing in the bar, with at least five years of practice as an attorney
Of course, certification is only one factor to consider in choosing an elder law attorney. Other important factors include years and quality of experience, reputation among other attorneys and professionals, whether the CELA will be handling your matter personally, and intangible factors such as the attorney’s diligence, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills.
As of this writing, only 44 Pennsylvania attorneys have been recognized as a certified elder law attorney. Mr. Sykes helps clients as a CELA in Pittsburgh, where he has practiced law for more than 21 years and is a recognized leader in the elder law field.