What is a CELA®?
A Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®) earns this special designation through the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). NELF is the only national organization approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) to offer certification in the area of elder law.
What is the purpose of getting certified as an elder law attorney?
The purpose of the certification program is to identify those lawyers who have the enhanced knowledge, skills, experience, and proficiency to be properly identified to the public as certified elder law attorneys.
A CELA® has put her work and expertise forward for independent review and certification to include showing a significant focus on the practice of special needs and elder law areas, undergoing a thorough ethical and professional review by peers and colleagues, and successfully passing a rigorous day-long written examination (recent pass rates for otherwise qualified applicants have been below 40%).
The applicant must be licensed to practice law in at least one state or the District of Columbia.
The applicant must have practiced law during the 5 years preceding their application and must still be practicing law.
The applicant must be a member in good standing of the bars in all places in which they are licensed.
The applicant must have spent an average of at least 16 hours per week practicing elder law during the 3 years preceding their application. In addition, they must have handled at least 60 elder law matters during those three years with a specified distribution among subjects as described in section 126.96.36.199 of the NELF rules and regulations.
The applicant must have participated in at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in elder law during the preceding 3 years.
The applicant must submit the names of five references from attorneys familiar with their competence and qualifications in elder law. These persons must themselves satisfy specified criteria.
The applicant must sit for the certification examination within 2 years of filing the short form application.