November 01, 2016

Ethics and Elder Abuse: An Attorney’s Obligations

By Malya Levin, Deirdre Lok

For attorneys, elder abuse is often inextricably linked with ethical dilemmas. Wherever a lawyer learns or suspects that elder abuse is present, that lawyer is faced with a host of difficult questions and possible responses. The way an attorney responds to such cases can have a significant impact on the relationship between the attorney and the client in question, the attorney’s reputation, and the life of the older adult client. It is not an overstatement to say that the way an attorney chooses to respond to cases of suspected elder abuse can define that attorney’s career. Moreover, given that one out of every ten people ages sixty and older who lives at home suffers abuse, neglect, or exploitation, this issue is highly relevant to all attorneys serving the older adult population (U.S. Dept. of Justice and Health and Human Services. Elder Justice Roadmap Project Report: Setting Priorities to Respond to an Emergent Public Health, Justice, Financial & Social Crisis, June 2014).

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