Mission Statement for the Elder Law Section
Activities of the Elder Law Section are guided by the following Mission Statement:
The section shall be dedicated to the field of Elder Law and related areas of the law by enhancing the skills of Minnesota lawyers practicing in the area, and by serving as a liaison with other parts of the Bar Association and the public on issues and activities related to Elder Law.
As of June 14, 2012, the Elder Law Section has 518 members. This represents a 2% increase in membership since July 1, 2011.
The Elder Law Section had an account balance of $18,538.13 in cash and investments as of April 30, 2012, which is approximately the same account balance as last year at this time. The budget for the Elder Law Section is $13,025. Our Strategic Planning Committee set a policy of holding 50% of the budget in reserves.
Continuing Legal Education Programs and 2011 Elder Law Institute
CLE Event Code and Credit
# of Attendees
Who Are You Going to Call? Preventing Financial Exploitation of Elders and What to Do When It Happens
163995 / 2.5 Std;
Get to Know Elder Law
165178 / 1.0 Standard
Also with the MSBA Health Law Section, the Elder Law Section co-sponsored a presentation entitled, “Legal Issues at the End of Life,” at four of the MSBA’s 9 Days in June sites in June 2011. The program was well received at all four locations last year and was well attended again in June 2012 at four more sites – Willmar, Alexandria, Mankato and Bemidji. Members of the Elder Law Section were featured on a panel discussion of issues lawyers should be aware of when dealing with elderly or terminally ill clients.
The 2011 Elder Law Institute was held on October 6 & 7, 2011, at the Minnesota CLE Conference Center in downtown Minneapolis. The theme of the Institute was “More than Medical Assistance,” to reflect the shifting Elder Law practice into everything from food stamps to unbefriended elders. Speakers included Lucinda Jesson, DHS Commissioner, David Godfrey, Medicaid Director and countless Elder Law Section members for a total of approximately 48 presenters. Topics included health reform, family law, veteran’s benefits, medical malpractice, mediation, and corporate farm law. A total of 226 individuals attended the Institute, which is down from 260 attendees in 2010 but similar to the number of attendees in 2009, at 237.
The course book for the 2011 Elder Law Institute is available for purchase at: http://www.minncle.org/PublicationDetail.aspx?ID=5034412.
Awards and Recognition
The Mary Alice Gooderl Award is presented annually to acknowledge outstanding achievement and commitment to the field of Elder Law. At the 2011 Elder Law Institute, the award was presented to A. Kimberley Dayton, Professor at William Mitchell College of Law.
Legislation and Amicus Briefs
The Elder Law Section did not submit any legislative proposals or amicus briefs in the 2011-12 term.
The Elder Law Section continues to publish a weekly E-Newsletter to all of its members. The content of the E-Newsletter includes items of interest to elder lawyers and their clients, including news stories, important website links (provided by the Law Student Committee), recent cases, DHS bulletins, and upcoming CLEs. Past E-newsletters are published on the Section’s website at: http://www.mnbar.org/sections/elder-law/newsletter.asp.
The section continued to maintain a website with varied information relevant to the Section, including past E-Newsletters, resources, the Medicaid State Plan Amendments, and other documents. The website can be found at:
Other Section Accomplishments
Several Committees continue to be active in the Elder Law Section, including the Medical Assistance Committee, the Education Committee, the Law Student Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee. Each Governing Council member is asked to serve on a Committee to complete tasks to further the work of the Section. Much of the work benefiting Section members comes through Committee efforts and their work is appreciated. Significant Committee work includes:
Strategic Planning Committee. Setting Budget Reserve Policy, Contribution Policy, Organizational Endorsement Policy, and other issues (Strategic Planning Committee)
Reserves. Of significance, the Strategic Planning committee recommended the following uses of $7,800 in excess funds to spend down reserves:
Solicit proposals from the Governing Council and Section
Host CLE’s that are free to Section members
Host a New Lawyer’s event
Secure a “big name” speaker for the Elder Law Institute
Policies. The following are the policies recommended by the Strategic Plan Committee and approved by the Governing Council:
Budget Reserve Policy. The Elder Law Section’s reserve policy shall be to hold 50% of annual budgeted revenue in reserve.
Contribution Policy. The Elder Law Section shall consider only those contribution requests that provide a direct benefit to section members.
Organizational Endorsement Policy. The Elder Law Section shall consider adopting a public opinion endorsing only those projects or organizations that provide services directly related to or supporting the practice of Elder Law. If the section Governing Council votes to endorse a project or organization, a vote of section membership shall then be taken to validate the endorsement. If section membership votes to endorse, the endorsement request shall then be submitted to the MSBA for approval. The Governing Council may, under special circumstances, vote to approve an endorsement as an exception to policy, subject to membership and MSBA approval.
Law Student Committee
Host a “Starting Your Elder Law Practice” breakout session at the Elder Law Institute.
Host a “Get to Know Elder Law” CLE on 3/13/2012.
Conduct ten Law Student Committee meetings.
Medicaid State Plan Committee
Securing an updated copy of the Medicaid State Plan, although without amendments tracked, which William Mitchell College of Law intends to do in an online version of the Plan.
Furthering discussion with DHS on information and document flow to consumers and attorneys.
Meeting with David Godfrey, State Medicaid Director at DHS on two occasions.
Goals of the Chair for the Elder Law Section
The following are aspirational goals for the Elder Law Section in 2011 – 2012 and the corresponding results of efforts to meet those goals::
Strengthen networking with other practice areas, based on the interdisciplinary issues faced by our clients.
Groundwork was laid for greater communication between the Health Law and Elder Law Section, with the discussions between the Chairs of the Elder Law and Health Law sections. The next step would be to attend a Health Law Section Governing Council meeting.
Further efforts should be made to reach out to the Litigation Committee, particularly if the Elder Law Section moves in the direction of litigating key issues
Continue to include students and new attorneys
“Get to Know Elder Law” CLE continued conversations with new lawyers looking to practice Elder Law. The event was hosted on March 13, 2012 by the Law Student Committee of the Section in conjunction with the MSBA.
A break-out session at the Elder Law Institute also informed others on becoming an Elder Lawyer.
Law students continue to be represented on the Section’s Law Student Committee and as Governing Council Student Members.
Interest in a mentor program was expressed with the next steps being coordination.
Broaden resources to understand benefits and services available to clients.
A break-out session at the Elder Law Institute focused on two little known benefits for elderly clients – food stamps and services for the visually impaired.
Financial exploitation has become a significant issue. The CLE “Who Are You Going To Call” regarding preventing and responding to Financial Exploitation was presented by the Elder Law Section’s Education Committee and the MSBA. The event was well attended and particularly highlighted criminal and civil remedies.
Continue to help seasoned attorneys stay on top of changes in state and federal law and rules.
The Medicaid State Plan Committee made inroads in getting changes made to the plan and students from William Mitchell will work on tracking the changes
Discussions with DHS provided more insight into rulemaking and where gaps in notice may occur. The State Registry is more well-known as a source for public notice for proposed rule-making. Such notices are now placed in the E-Newsletter for the Section.
A proposal to add a Litigation Committee or change to the Medicaid State Plan committee is currently being discussed to determine if members of the Section believe it important to use the court system for clearer guidance for Elder Law attorneys in a variety of areas.
Greater commitment to understanding home-based programs and services, since they will be used more in the future.
Annual Meeting and Election Results
The Elder Law Section’s annual meeting and elections were held in conjunction with the Section’s regular Governing Council meeting on Friday, June 15, 2012, in Minneapolis, MN.
Chair – Laura Zdychnec
Vice Chair - David Rephan
Secretary – John Kantke
Treasurer – Lori Skibbie
Governing Council (serving either a new two year term or continuing a term for one more year)
Current and Returning Members:
Mary Frances Price
Ja Paul Harris
Members Leaving the Board:
Law Student Liaisons (serving a one year term ending June 2013)
Brenna Galvin – William Mitchell
Courtney Allensworth – William Mitchell
Dustin Bethke – Hamline
Following the Annual Meeting, the following were Committees and Chairs appointed:
Elder Law Section Committee Chairs for 2012-2013
Awards Committee: Julian Zweber and Stuart Bear
Bylaws Committee: Dick Hawke and Tom O’Connell*
Communication Committee: Joel Button
Education Committee: Jill Adkins*
Law Student Committee: Laura Orr
Legislative Committee: Julian Zweber
Medicaid State Plan: Stuart Deuring and Tom O’Connell* (uncertain of future of committee)
Medical Assistance: Cathryn Reher
Newsletter Editor: Allison Burke
Nominations Committee: Dan Steinhagen
Pro Bono Committee: Adam Rohne
Strategic Planning Committee: Jennifer Wright*
Vulnerable Adult Committee: Ken LaBore and Suzy Scheller
* indicates committee chairs who are ex-officio (non-elected) members of the council
MSBA Assembly representative:
Mary Frances Price
MSBA Legislative Committee Representative
I have enjoyed my time as Chair of the Elder Law Section and recognize many in our Section who work hard on behalf of our clients.
Respectfully Submitted By:
Suzanne Scheller, Section Chair
Annual Report Archives
Click here to view archives of past Elder Law Section Annual Reports.