What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney?

A Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) is a nationally recognized expert in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning.

An attorney may achieve CELA status only by meeting rigorous qualifications for certification in Elder Law by the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). The qualifications are summarized below:

Substantial Involvement - A CELA must have spent an average of at least 16 hours per week practicing elder law during the three years preceding their application. In addition, Certified Elder Law Attorneys must have handled at least 60 elder law matters during those three years with a specified distribution among specific legal areas defined by the Foundation.

  • Attorneys Patrick Curley and Lucy Budman devoted their law practices exclusively to elder law and estate planning and have handled hundreds of elder law and estate planning matters.

Continuing Legal Education - A CELA must have participated in at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in elder law during the preceding three years.

  • Attorneys Patrick Curley and Lucy Budman participate in dozens of hours of continuing legal education in elder law every year. They are frequent lecturers, television commentators and writers on various elder law subjects.

Peer Review/Professional References - A CELA must be favorably evaluated by five elder law attorney specialists.

  • Besides satisfying the peer review requirements, Attorney Patrick Curley has served as a Director on the Board of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys since 2010, and has served as an active member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (MassNAELA) since 2003.
  • Besides satisfying the peer review requirements, Attorney Lucy Budman is an active member of MassNAELA.
  • Attorney Curley has been selected for inclusion to Massachusetts SuperLawyers® since 2011. This distinction is achieved by only a tiny fraction of Massachusetts attorneys.
  • Attorney Budman earned a Masters of Law in Taxation (LL.M.). She has been selected for inclusion to Massachusetts Rising Stars® since 2012.

Bar-style Examination - A CELA must pass a full day certification examination.

  • Attorneys Patrick Curley and Lucy Budman passed the CELA examination on their first attempts. Historically, only a distinguished minority of CELA candidates have passed the examination on their first attempt.
  • Patrick passed the California Bar Exam on his first attempt in 1997 and waived into the Massachusetts Bar based upon his experience in CA.
  • Lucy passed the New York and Massachusetts Bar Exam on her first attempts. The California and New York Bar Exams are widely considered among the most difficult Bar Exams in the country.

Licensure - A CELA must be licensed to practice law in at least one state.

  • Attorney Patrick Curley is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and California.
  • Attorney Lucy Budman is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and New York

Practice - A CELA must have practiced law during the five years preceding their application and must still be practicing law.

  • Attorney Patrick Curley has practiced law since 1997.
  • Attorney Lucy Budman has practiced law since 2003.

Integrity/Good Standing - CELA must be members in good standing of the state bars where they are licensed.

  • Attorneys Patrick Curley and Lucy Budman are members in good standing of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the Massachusetts Chapter of NAELA, WealthCounsel and Elder Counsel.

Note: The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF) is the only national organization accredited by the American Bar Association to certify attorneys in Elder Law. NELF is a private organization, whose standards for certification are not regulated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.