(The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: Bifocal, Vol. 41, Issue 2.)
Naomi Karp, who had worked with the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, recently made a career change. She left the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) after eight years. Prior to the CFPB, Naomi was at the AARP Public Policy Institute. Her departure from the CFPB in October prompted memories by Commission staff.
Erica Wood: Naomi and I had an informal job share for over 17 years, as we both worked 60 percent time, with young children. We usually worked jointly and shared many challenges, successes and adventures. Perhaps most memorable was our 2003 project on health care decision-making for “unbefriended” elders. We researched current state laws on how health care decisions are made for adults with no decisional ability, no family, no friends, no connections, and no funds – adults who often slip through societal cracks. We made site visits and held a forum to gain additional information for our report and recommendations.
We also co-authored a report on mediation in nursing homes called Keep Talking, Keep Listening. e went to many meetings of the Dispute Resolution Coalition on Aging and Disability over many years, and later secured a grant to develop state or local coalitions on aging, disability and dispute resolution. We researched internal managed care plan grievance procedures and made recommendations. But that’s not all! We were co-investigators on a potpourri of additional projects – health care decision-making of patients with dementia in Medicare managed care plans; an early roundtable on coordination of Social Security representative payees and state courts with guardianship jurisdiction -- and we were part of a challenging project to assess the nursing home “informal dispute resolution” process.
After Naomi moved from the Commission to AARP, we continued to work together on a national study of guardian residential decision-making, a national study of guardianship monitoring, and a 2007 report on best judicial practices in “Guarding the Guardians.” For the report, we made several site visits – and took the opportunity whenever we could to indulge our hobby of visiting state capitol buildings!
Finally, when Naomi moved from AARP to the CFPB in 2011, we worked together again as the CFPB contracted with the ABA COLA for an innovative project that Naomi conceived and managed. Our COLA staff (Charlie Sabatino, Erica Wood, Lori Stiegel, Andrea Amato) worked closely with Naomi to develop national plain language guides for four types of lay fiduciaries, collectively called Managing Someone Else’s Money, state-specific adaptations for six states, and a set of templates and tips to facilitate adaptation by other states. The CFPB disseminated more than 1.5 million hard and virtual copies of the national and state documents. They are among the agency’s most popular publications and are helping to improve family fiduciary practices.
Lori Stiegel: Except for ongoing discussions about clothes, shoes, and restaurants, Naomi and I collaborated more after she left the ABA. Her AARP and CFPB jobs focused on financial matters, including planning for incapacity and detecting, preventing, and redressing financial exploitation, that overlapped with my work on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
In 2007, thanks to Naomi, AARP’s Public Policy Institute funded the ABA COLA to conduct a national study on power of attorney abuse. Our key tasks were to identify the consumer protection provisions of the new Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA), compare them to existing provisions in state statutes, and produce a national report. That report, Power of Attorney Abuse: What States Can Do About It—A Comparison of Current State Laws with the New Uniform Power of Attorney Act (AARP, 2008), benefited advocates and legislative staff working to support enactment of the UPOAA in their states. Subsequently, again thanks to Naomi, to help inform aging and elder abuse experts, state policy makers, state program administrators and staff, attorneys general, prosecutors, law enforcement, and legal experts, AARP’s Public Policy Institute funded the ABA COLA to examine professionals’ opinions on the effectiveness of state laws and to elicit new ideas for improving states’ responses to elder financial exploitation.
Although Naomi’s departure from AARP meant there was no AARP staff to shepherd the resulting report and recommendations through AARP’s review and publication process, the work has informed other activities by ABA COLA staff and undoubtedly informed much of Naomi’s work at the CFPB.
Nancy Coleman (former COLA director): Naomi approached me at an Age Discrimination in Employment workshop that the Commission was co-sponsoring with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, now Justice in Aging. This was in late 1987. She said she was moving to Washington and was looking for part-time work. The Commission had just been awarded a grant to look at grandparent visitation rights with the ABA's Center on Children and Law.
Naomi joined the ABA part-time in early 1988. There were numerous projects over the years where Naomi made a significant contribution. She had a major part in our first attempt to look at ethical issues in representing older clients. Naomi drafted the overview for the Fordham Law Review's special issue that contained the papers contracted for the symposium as well as editing the recommendations that were adopted by those in attendance. She was instrumental in the success of the Symposium. The special issue was dated March 1994, Volume LXII, Number 5.
COLA Intern Anne Moody Gains Knowledge Under the Tutelage of Commission Staff
Intern Anne Moody is a student intern for the Commission on Law and Aging. Anne is from Los Angeles, California, and is currently a second-year student at Georgetown University Law Center. Before law school, Anne earned a Master’s degree in psychology and provided counseling to older adults in a large community mental health center. While working at the community mental health center, Anne witnessed many of her clients struggle with legal issues such as healthcare, housing, employment, and government benefits. Her desire to advocate for underrepresented communities on the legal front drove her to attend law school.
During her time at the Commission, Anne has contributed to the ABA’s online resources. She has researched state laws regarding mandatory reporting of elder abuse and updated ABA charts with recently-adopted statutory provisions. She created a resource that describes states’ voluntary guardianship statutes and state guardianship statutes that contain language that could be interpreted to allow for a voluntary guardianship. She has researched and synthesized state laws regarding the criteria that make an individual eligible for adult protective services and has condensed states’ 2019 amendments to their health decisions laws into concise, digestible summaries. In her most recent project, Anne researched a recent decision from the New York Supreme Court regarding termination of a consent guardianship and due process concerns.
After graduating from law school, Anne plans to go into the private sector and pursue litigation. She intends to continue to be involved in pro bono matters and hopes to circle back to public services work in the future.