Join NAELA's 25th Anniversary Celebration!

Tell Us Why You Became an Elder and/or Special Needs Law Attorney and What NAELA Means to You

As part of NAELA¹s 25th Anniversary celebration, we want to hear from NAELA members. Share your story with fellow NAELA members:

  • Why do you practice Elder and/or Special Needs Law?
  • Why did you join NAELA?
  • What does NAELA mean to you?
  • How does NAELA help you with your practice?
  • What was your most interesting/challenging case?

We're looking for 50-100 words (but you can send more).

We'll publish many in an upcoming issue of NAELA News. All stories will be posted online as part of NAELA's 25th Anniversary celebration. (NAELA News reserves the right to edit for style and space considerations.) If you like, send us your photo and we¹ll run it along with your story. 

We're Also Looking for Photos
Do you have photos from past NAELA events? If you think you can identify the people for a photo caption, send us your photos and we'll publish them on the website.

Send your contributions to Nancy Sween, NAELA Sr. Director of Communications and Publications.

Why do you practice Elder or Special Needs Law and what does NAELA mean to you?

"I joined NAELA and the Virginia Chapter VAELA at the beginning of 2012. Initial reasons for becoming a member included educational resources and Listserve interaction. Having a son with multiple disabilities and understanding the challenges involved continue to motivate me to practice in the areas of Special Needs Law and Elder Law. Being a NAELA member this past year helped me serve clients more effectively in many ways. The annual VAELA UnProgram, customized brochures, seminar suggestions, national directory, and Special Needs Law Section updates are some of the exceptional resources I have used."
Barbara Lloyd Kessinger, Esq.
Haymarket, Virginia
NAELA member since 2012

"I am second career attorney who left a career in parish ministry after 18 years and headed to law school with an interest in how individual ethical and moral medical decision-making might be preserved in the face of mounting legislation and regulation at both the state and federal levels. I knew I wanted to go into private practice, but it took me most of law school to figure out how to translate the concern I had for my parishioners into ³legal speak. At the end of the process, I realized I wanted to be an elder law attorney.

I graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law in 2001, just a few short months before 9/11. I had lined up an appellate clerkship and watched from the court offices in New Jersey as first one tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, and then another. I had to be satisfied to find an entry level job at a civil practice firm that difficult year when there were no entry level law jobs to be had, but I would be on my own to develop into an Elder Law attorney. The rural county in which I practice ­ yes, New Jersey does have rural counties ­ desperately needed elder law attorneys, but there were no mentors in my law firm. NAELA for me has been the answer to a prayer.

Early on I was able to do a 'CELA Exam Overview Course' that was intended to cover material that would be on the certification exam. It was a great introduction to the many facets of Elder Law. I really think it took me about two years to digest all the new information that I got in that one day, but it was easy to do. I just left the CDs in the CD player in the car until it all sounded familiar. My kids got sick of it, but my octogenarian parents found it interesting! Because of family commitments, it continues to be nearly impossible to attend the annual NAELA events, but I always buy the CDs and materials afterward. I know I miss a lot by not being able to attend. Few people, even in my own state, know who I am (although the state listserv has been great about responding to my posts anyway!). Through the NAELA published materials, I can keep abreast of the ever-changing landscape of Elder Law and that makes me a much better attorney for my clients, or so I hope.
The NAELA directory is another great resource. I often have occasion to call an attorney in another state because a client is moving there or perhaps owns property there, or has a parent there. That directory has been invaluable to me, and I have received referrals from other attorneys because of my listing in the directory. In short, NAELA has been an invaluable resource both in helping me learn what I needed to learn to grow an Elder Law practice and also to keep me abreast of ongoing developments in the various elements of the law that comprise Elder Law. I couldn't have done what I've done without NAELA."
Nancy Heslin Reading, Esq.
Newton, New Jersey
NAELA member since 2007

"The work of a sole practitioner in a small town can feel isolated, but the NAELA colleagues from around the country I have learned to 'know' (even though I've never actually met many of them) are my support network. No matter how unusual a client situation or legal predicament may be to me, someone has dealt with it before and is willing to share how they worked things out."
Ruth Ratzlaff, Esq.
Kingsburg, California
NAELA member since 1991

Join the Celebration!

25 Years of
Sharing and Caring