What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney or CELA and Why Do I Need One?
Preparation for a CELA designation includes several steps and several different types of qualification, all of which are designed to assure that clients receive good legal care. Before being certified, an applicant must:
- Have practiced law for at least five years, and have focused at least half of their practice in the special needs/elder law field for at least the last three of those years.
- Demonstrate “substantial involvement” in special needs and elder law practice, by demonstrating a minimum number of individual cases, spread across a number of different categories making up the “elder law” definition.
- Study for, take and pass a rigorous, day-long written examination. Recent pass rates have been below 50% — and that is of applicants who have already met the experience requirements.
- Undergo a review by peers and colleagues, focused on the applicant’s reputation for ethical and competent representation in elder law and special needs planning matters.
There are only 10 CELAs in Georgia, and only 5 CELAs in South Carolina (as of 2017). Your lawyer should be a CELA — it is your surest method of independently confirming that he or she is more than just qualified. After all, you deserve the best legal representation available.