The first thing I did to transition into elder law from an antitrust background was to take every elder law CLE in Maryland I could find. I quickly learned that, instead of the traditional statutes, regulations, and case law, the primary authority for Maryland elder law was someone named Jason. It didn’t take long to realize that his celebrity was well earned.
Jason Frank is the author of “Elder Law in Maryland” and “Maryland Medicaid.” He is a teacher, having taught at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, University of Baltimore Law School, Johns Hopkins, and Towson University, not to mention countless CLE programs. He has been a driving force behind some of the most significant legislation related to Maryland seniors and those with disabilities. Through his work with NAELA, he has taken his passion and energies to federal legislation.
Jason credits his father as being the most significant influence in his life. “He had a set of values I subscribe to. When I have a question as to what I should do, I sit back and ask, ‘what would my father do?’.” Jason’s father had a sense of social justice, equity, “equality for everybody,” as well as a passion for social change, particularly at the institutional level.
Jason carried those values into his professional life. He says he has this “crazed belief” that “if you can change institutions, you can change outcomes.” Jason views the law as a vehicle for social change and dedicated his career to that end. He adopted NAELA’s motto of “doing well by doing good” and applied his energies to changing social structure into how it “should be,” instead of accepting how it was.
Barbara Broccato, the lobbyist for the Maryland/DC NAELA chapter, has worked with Jason for 30 years. She recognized his success in building relationships with legislators over the years and says that Jason’s “advocacy has been a constant in Maryland that has raised the bar of the legislature’s understanding of the needs of the elderly and disabled.” Jason was instrumental in creating Maryland’s Home and Community-Based Options Waiver program that required legislation to come into existence. He also helped craft and pass some of the strongest Special Needs Trust legislation anywhere in the country.
Jason is the first to say that he couldn’t have done any of it without Laurie, his wife and partner. Laurie joined his practice in 1995, almost immediately after law school. They married in 1999 and together built what became Frank, Frank, and Scherr. At one point the firm had 10 attorneys, making it one of the largest elder law firms in the country.
Kandace Scherr took over the practice when Jason and Laurie retired—Laurie in 2017 and Jason in 2019. Kandace credits Jason’s management skills with making the transition easy. She tries to run the practice in a similar fashion. On a personal note, Kandace describes Jason as an “amazingly generous colleague” who kept an open door for anyone looking for help, either professionally or personally. He was ready to share his knowledge and experience with other elder law practitioners and encouraged the firm’s attorneys to continue to grow professionally in the manner they thought best. There was no micromanagement. He has a generous spirit and was “fun to work with.”
Alex Zarzecki was one of Jason’s students who joined the firm first as a second-year intern and ultimately as an associate. He describes Jason as the “best mentor you could ask for” and echoes Kandace Scherr’s appreciation of his open-door policy. He also credits Jason with giving him the courage to venture into unknown legal territory, knowing that Jason was always there to provide needed support and advice. Jason’s willingness to delegate and his refusal to micromanage, says Alex, “made [him] a better attorney than he otherwise would have been.”
Jason’s achievements are legion, and he says that he’s done “everything [he] ever wanted to do as a lawyer.” He is particularly proud of the First Maryland Disability Trust, a nonprofit pooled asset trust he helped create with other forward thinking colleagues. The trust has grown into well over 60 million dollars in assets in a very short period. He is similarly happy with the progress made on Maryland’s waiver program but believes there is more to do. Jason spent over 30 years as the assistant county attorney for Baltimore County, advising on matters affecting seniors and those with disabilities, and he hosted a monthly radio show called Frank Talk on Elder Law.
Retirement has not slowed him down. Jason’s current project “The Wesley” is a Continuing Care at Home community geared toward helping people age at home, with long-term services and supports coming to them. The project took only a year-and-a-half from conception to reality and is ready to accept clients now. Jason still “has a couple of fights left in him” and will continue to “do well by doing good.”