by Monica Chamness
There are specialty areas of the law and then there’s elder law. Although elder law is another practice area such as entertainment law or environmental law, elder law crosses over into many other specialities. To assist those practitioners in this field, the Elder Law Section of The Jacksonville Bar Association is available.
“The section provides continuing education to attorneys in the practice, expands their network of resources and provides some outreach to the community,” said Mike Jorgensen, co-chair of the section and Florida Coastal School of Law associate professor. “The needs of the elderly are unique, therefore, the law that pertains to the elderly is unique. For example, there is the issue of custodial rights for grandparents. They were dealt a tremendous setback when the Supreme Court denied grandparents visitation. The court said that it is a parent’s constitutional right. Even though this is a family law issue, there is a definite consequence to elders.”
Within the last 10 years, The Florida Bar decided to make elder law a certified area of the law.
Evidence of the complexity of elder law is well-represented by Jorgensen’s curriculum at Florida Coastal. Estate planning, property distribution, guardianship, advanced directives, health care and nursing home litigation are some of the topics taught in his classes.
“Often clients need information regarding services that are not legal so it’s good to have a broad-based network,” said Jorgensen.
The section boasts 30-35 active members. One of Jorgensen’s interests is to become immersed in community service activities with community organizations. In the past, members have participated in health fairs, HabiJax projects, Cathedral Foundation Christmas dinners and have provided legal services to the elderly. Under new leadership this year, the section’s full set of objectives is still being tweaked. Six educational meetings for the attorneys have been organized so far.
This year, the section boasts two leaders.