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December 01, 2013

The Work and Accomplishments of 2013

David English

(Note: The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: BIFOCAL Vol. 35, Issue 2.)

In this, its 33rd year, the Commission has continued to leverage the cumulative expertise of its staff and members in its pursuit of its mission: to serve as a collaborative, interdisciplinary leader of the Association’s work to strengthen and secure the legal rights, dignity, autonomy, quality of life, and quality of care of aging persons.

This issue of Bifocal will serve as our second Year in Review issue—providing a snapshot of where the Commission’s work stands today.

Given the pace required to achieve what we have in the past year, it’s
easy to forget to step back and appreciate the breadth and depth of the Commission’s work. In the past 12 months, the work of the professional staff and commissioners has impacted the legal profession, public policy, and the public at large in several ways.

The Commission’s work has impacted the legal profession:

  • Through our law and practice publications, such as our capacity assessment handbooks and tool kits (“Checklist for an Elder Friendly Office”), our bi-monthly e-journal, our elder law ethics brochure, and topical articles;
  • Through our quarterly “Elder Law Essentials” CLE webinars and more than 60 professional education presentations by staff and Commissioners;
  • Through our support of programmatic efforts of all ABA sections and divisions that seek to target law and aging issues, including cross publication with the Senior Lawyer’s Division and providing faculty to other section and division CLE programs;
  • Through the respect and good will we engender for the ABA.

The Commission’s work has impacted public policy:

  • Through responding to requests for technical assistance (over 2000 per year from multiple disciplines, policy-makers, and the media) and tracking of state legal developments in guardianship, elder abuse, health care decision-making, and other subjects;
  • Through our advisory participation in policy, advocacy, and training efforts related to the health care decisions laws, the Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, Power of Attorney Act, the federal Elder Justice Act, and the Older Americans Act, among others;
  • Through our policy development and advocacy efforts within the ABA and at the state and federal level in conjunction with ABA Government Affairs.

The Commission’s work has impacted the public:

  • Through our educational materials for the general public, addressing financial exploitation, health care powers of attorney, and other publications developed under foundation grants.

A considerable and successful undertaking this year was a set of consumer-targeted guides for lay-fiduciaries. Staff researched and wrote a nationally recognized series of valuable booklets as part of a contract from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau entitled Managing Someone Else’s Money. Work on this project continues into 2014 with a set of six state-focused guides in the pipeline and a replication guide in the works, as well.

I’m proud of our successes and accomplishments and look forward to continuing success in helping to shape an effective response of the legal profession in meeting the law-related needs of older individuals.

I encourage you to get involved: through participating on one of our excellent discussion lists, through interacting with us through our social media accounts, or by contacting us to discuss a donation or a potential opportunity to partner with us on a project.


David English

Commission Chair

David English