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As the aging population spirals and people live longer, an elder law practice can be very diverse. Since Elder Law is a holistic practice area (one more defined by the type of client than specific areas of law), elder law attorneys help elders and their families prepare for crises associated with aging and, when they occur, help them select the best way to carry out difficult transitions. Many elder law attorneys focus on helping clients obtain public benefits (usually Medicaid) to pay for long-term care. In addition, elder law attorneys often prepare legal documents for families to help them prepare for incapacity, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies to nominate surrogates in case they were later needed.

Elder Law Career Path Resources

Elder Law Faculty

Elder Law Path View

  • Core Course

    Law and the Elderly

    2 or 3 Credit (Elective)

    This class presents a broad overview of the legal and policy questions relating to aging individuals and an older society. As our elderly population continues to grow faster than the population as a whole, the legal profession must be prepared to address the wide range of legal issues that particularly affect the elderly. Topics that are explored include how the elderly live when they retire and their income drops, health-care options and access to care, housing alternatives when a person ages and becomes frail, and long-term care policies. Students also study health-care decision making, planning for incapacity, legal considerations when individuals can no longer make decisions for themselves, and elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. This course involves frequent use of simulations, and problem-solving extrapolated from actual situations encountered by elderly clients. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Family Law

    3 Credit (Elective)

    Surveys many legal problems of the family. Students taking this course will learn about the effect of the constitution on reproductive activity and family formation and structure. They also will learn about procedures for family dissolution, custody, and support, regardless of whether there has been a marriage or not. In addition, students will learn about the various ways in which members of families can use contracts to create their own relations and the settings in which the state does not permit self-determination. Finally, the course explores the lawyer's role in family counseling and litigation. One or more written exercises are sometimes required during the course, in addition to a final examination.

  • Recommended Course

    Mental Health Law

    2 Credit (Elective)

    Explores the interrelations between law and mental disabilities. Topics include the insanity defense, use of psychiatric expert testimony, competence to stand trial, use of indeterminate sentencing for "dangerous" offenders and predicting "dangerousness" civil commitment, rights of mental patients, use of psychotropic medication, and psychiatrist/patient privilege.

    This course may be offered every other year.

  • Recommended Course

    Personal Income Tax

    3 Credit (Elective)

    This course covers the Internal Revenue Code provisions applicable to the tax treatment of individual taxpayers. Students also will study tax policy, case law, and the tax doctrines and principles applicable to the determination of an individual's taxable income. This course provides the basic structure for understanding and interpreting the Internal Revenue Code, and serves as a foundation for upper-level tax and business-related law school courses.

    Areas of coverage includes: gross income; the tax consequences of property transactions; property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or inheritance; scholarships, prizes, and awards; life insurance and annuities; discharge of indebtedness; personal injury damages; fringe benefits; divorce; and deductions related to a trade or business or profit-seeking activity.

    When offered as a distance-learning course, there will be required weekly readings from the casebook and online statutory and regulatory sources, regular mini-lectures on prerecorded video accompanied by PowerPoint slides, discussion forums to which students must make posts each week, and weekly quizzes. All course material other than the casebook will be accessible by any computing device through an Internet connection. While most of the course will be asynchronous, opportunities will be presented for synchronous digital chat. In addition to posing questions and providing guidance on the discussion boards and through the video lectures, the professor will be available throughout the course by e-mail, conference call, or live chat. Grading will be based on participation in the forums (including a qualitative component), performance on quizzes, and a final "open-book" examination.

  • Recommended Course

    Wills, Estates, and Trusts I

    3 Credit (Elective)

    This course is designed to give the student a grounding in the general law relating to donative transfers of property interests taking place at death. It covers intestate succession, wills laws, nonprobate transfers, and some trust laws. It is not jurisdiction-specific; instead, it focuses on majority and minority rules and trends in the law. Jurisdictional comparisons often will be made.

    When offered as a distance learning course, there will be required weekly readings from the casebook, regular mini-lectures on prerecorded video accompanied by PowerPoint slides, discussion forums to which students must make posts each week, and weekly assessments, including quizzes. All course material other than the casebook will be accessible by any computing device through an Internet connection. While most of the course will be asynchronous, opportunities will be presented for synchronous digital chat. In addition to posing questions and providing guidance on the discussion boards and through the video lectures, the professor will be available throughout the course by e-mail, telephone, in-person at New England Law Boston, and/or via Skype. Grading will be based on participation in the forums (including a qualitative component), performance on quizzes, and a final "open-book" examination.

  • Recommended Course

    Health Law Clinic

    2/3 Credit (Clinic)

    Students in this clinical component will spend 10 (2-credit) or 15 (3-credit) hours per week working in a placement with legal work in the area of health law. Placements may include one or more hospitals, government agencies, legal services offices, and private law firms. Students will submit weekly journals, describing and reflecting on their experiences in the field, and will meet in a series of seminars with the course instructor and/or the Clinical Director to explore the relationship between the principles covered in the substantive class and the students' fieldwork. Students must have taken or be currently enrolled in at least one of the following: Health Care Law, Hospital Law, Mental Health Law, or Public Health Law. This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Lawyering Process

    6, 4, or 3 Credit (Clinic)

    This one-semester course serves as an introduction to civil litigation. Students attend a 2-hour weekly class and 16 hours per week (8 hours or 5 hours, respectively, for the 4- and 3-credit version open to part-time students only), working on civil cases through the Clinical Law Office or other legal services offices, such as Greater-Boston Legal Services. Students represent clients under Rule 3:03 of the Supreme Judicial Court, the student practice rule, and assume responsibility for all phases of each case they handle. Students meets on a weekly basis with their assigned supervisor to discuss progress and strategy on the student's cases, and are responsible for handling cases until the end of the examination period. The major objective of the course is to develop a conceptual framework within which students can understand and evaluate their own experience in practice, both during the course and in future practice. The skills studied include client interviewing, case planning, investigation/discovery, client counseling, negotiation, argument, and the presentation of evidence. In addition to providing the opportunity to develop skills, the course examines institutional and ethical problems that arise in the student's practice. Written work includes short papers and an examination. Prerequisites/corequisites include Evidence or Trial Practice. This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Public Interest Law Seminar / Clinic

    3, 4, or 5 Credit (Clinic)

    Other Stage One Options:

    Health Law Clinic OR Lawyering Process

    This one-semester package includes both a clinical course and seminar. Students will spend 5 (1-credit), 10 (2-credit), or 15 (3-credit) hours per week in their fieldwork, depending on the number of credits for the clinical component portion. In addition, all students will attend a weekly, 2-hour seminar (2 credits). The total package will therefore be offered for 3, 4, or 5 credits, with the 3-credit package offered only to Evening and Special Part-Time Program students. For the clinical component, the core placements will include the New England Law Clinical Law Office and off-site placements, such as Greater-Boston Legal Services, where students will handle civil cases. Students will be practicing under Rule 3:03 of the Supreme Judicial Court, typically representing indigent clients. An explicit goal of this course is to provide our students with direct experience providing "legal services for the benefit of persons of limited means." See MASS. R PROF. CONDUCT R. 6.1. Placements in governmental agencies will not be the focus of this clinic, since the placements in other clinical courses are so heavily weighted toward the government sector (e.g. Government Lawyer, Tax Clinic, Administrative Law Clinic, Criminal Procedure II Clinic, Federal Courts Clinic). The seminar portion of the course will focus on public interest law and the public interest lawyer. Classes, or units of classes, will include issues such as: introduction to substantive areas of public interest law (e.g., family law, housing law, government benefits); ethics (e.g. issues affecting public interest lawyers, regulation of the profession and delivery of legal services); clients (unmet legal needs, and issues of poverty, race and gender); the courts (dispensing justice to persons of limited means); and legal education (the role of law schools in preparing lawyers for the practice). Issues from the students' fieldwork will be incorporated into the classes, to strengthen the connections between classroom and fieldwork, as well as theory and practice.

    Prerequisites/Corequisites: Evidence or Trial Practice.

    This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Other Course

    Health Care Law

    2 Credit (Elective)

    This course analyzes the historical developments and policies that have influenced and shaped the development of the health-care system in the United States, at both the state and federal level. Weekly reading assignments will include health-care policy articles, case law, and reports and studies on various health-care topics. Areas of coverage will include health-care financing, the regulation of health-care providers, patient access to health care, and the doctor-patient relationship and conflicts of interest.

  • Other Course

    Hospital Law

    2 Credit (Elective)

    The health-care industry has become perhaps the most regulated industry in the United States, resulting in a dynamic and complex area of law for legal practitioners. This course will utilize federal and state statutes, regulations and case law in addressing areas such as hospital structures, licensure and accreditation, fraud and abuse, physician credentialing, peer review, hospital governance, tax exemption, joint ventures, and antitrust issues. Students also will consider various scenarios routinely encountered by lawyers who represent hospitals.

    This course may be offered every other year.

  • Other Course

    Mediation

    3 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Students are introduced to the principles of conflict resolution through the mediation process and through evolving mediation hybrids, including learning about the legal, ethical, sociological, and procedural aspects of mediation through a series of simulated exercises. Students participate directly in simulations drawn from many areas involving conflict, such as family law, trusts and estates, land use and real estate, business, sports law, construction, entertainment, and employment. During the second half of the course, the focus is on the role of lawyers in the mediation process and the skills needed to be an effective and appropriate advocate in resolving disputes for clients. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirements.

  • Other Course

    Public Health Law

    2 Credit (Seminar)

    This course will focus on the use of legal tools to improve the public's health. It will survey the legal framework in which the government may regulate for the public's health, analyzing the constitutional, statutory, common law, and regulatory sources of government authority, as well as the limits imposed on the government's power to address public health concerns. The course will focus on current public health policy issues, including obesity prevention, tobacco control, and public health emergencies, with special attention paid to the inherent tension between public health regulation and individual rights.

    This course may be offered every other year.

  • Other Course

    Employment Law

    2 or 3 Credit (Elective)

    This course deals with the employer/employee relationship when the employee is not represented by a labor union, but rather seeks protection under state or federal legislation. Among the topics are legal restraints on employer screening of employees, wage and hour legislation, occupational health and safety legislation, restrictions on employee discharge, employment discrimination, retirement, and other employee workplace rights and protections.

    This course may be offered every other year.

  • Recommended Course

    Administrative Law

    3 Credit (Elective)

    This course is designed for students interested in regulatory law and those who seek additional coverage of pertinent constitutional law topics. Coverage includes the sources and nature of agency authority, agency rule making and adjudication, and judicial review of agency action. Constitutional issues addressed include the interplay of power among the three federal branches, procedural due process, and justiciability issues such as standing, ripeness, and mootness. Special emphasis is placed on the federal Administrative Procedure Act; state analogs may be studied as well. Attention also may be given to the internal functioning of typical administrative bodies and to the relationship between regulators and the regulated community.

  • Recommended Course

    Disability Law

    3 Credit (Elective)

    Examines the legal protections and status of people with disabilities. The course explores issues relevant to the workplace and to access to public accommodations and services. Particular focus is on rights conferred under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and Massachusetts antidiscrimination laws. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the professional skills requirements. This course may be offered in alternative years.

  • Recommended Course

    Wills, Estates, and Trusts II

    2 Credit (Elective)

    This course is an advanced treatment of topics introduced in the Wills, Estates, and Trusts course, as a well as an overview of many of the tax issues arising in a trusts and estates practice. It covers such topics as fiduciary administration of trusts, remedies for trustee malfeasance, trust construction, and powers of appointment. Certain income tax concepts relating to trusts and estates practice will be addressed, and the course may include a brief overview of the federal transfer taxes.

  • Recommended Course

    Law Practice Management

    2 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Law Practice Management teaches students how to set up and run a small law firm or a solo practice; however, the skills and lessons learned in the class are transferable to any law practice, large or small. The class focuses on what is needed to launch your practice, how to generate business, how to establish a fee structure, how to actually handle the substantive work, how to manage clients, how to deal with opposing counsel, and how to fire a client. The class also discusses law firm economics, which is critical to understand, whether you are hanging your own shingle or working for someone else. Ethical considerations and malpractice traps in the context of the day-to-day practice of law are weekly themes. Additional elements of a law practice that are examined include 1) forming a business plan; 2) incorporation/partnership, employment/independent contracts; 3) insurance; 4) tax liabilities, annual and other filings and deposits, IOLTA; 5) space; 6) equipment; 7) management; 8) rainmaking and networking; 9) computer software; 10) banking: client funds, trust accounts, operating accounts, conveyancing accounts, IOLTA requirements; and 11) marketing and advertising. Former and current practitioners are guest lecturers, and in the past, they have included a disbarred lawyer to speak of his ethical missteps, bar counsel from the Office of Bar Counsel, a panel of seasoned practitioners, representatives from LOMAP and LCL. The course also involves a "shadowing" program, where students are matched with local practitioners based upon substantive law and geography. Each student meets with a local practitioner to discuss his or her practice and start to build the student's network. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Family Law Clinic

    2/3 Credit (Clinic)

    Other Stage Two Options:

    Administrative Law Clinic

    Students in this clinical component spend 10 (2-credit) or 15 (3-credit) hours a week in settings that expose them to the practice of family law. Most placements will be in settings such as legal services offices, including New England Law's in-house clinic, in which students will handle family law cases pursuant to SJC Rule 3:03, the student practice rule. Since most legal services offices take family law cases primarily where there are issues of domestic violence, the family law placements typically will expose students to issues covered in the Domestic Violence and Family Law courses. Settings beyond legal services offices will be appropriate placements as well, as long as the substantive work in the field will expose students to issues covered in the courses recognized as the corequisites/prerequisites. Students will submit weekly journals, describing and reflecting on their experiences in the field, and will meet in a series of seminars with the course instructor and/or the Clinical Director to explore the relationship between the principles covered in the substantive class and the students' fieldwork. Prerequisite/corequisites include Domestic Violence and Family Law. This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Administrative Law Clinic

    2/3 Credit (Clinic)

    Other Stage Two Options:

    Family Law Clinic

    Placements inside agencies or in organizations or offices that work before agencies are within the broad scope of the clinic. Students in this clinical component spend 10 (2-credit) or 15 (3-credit) hours per week on fieldwork. Given the broad range of possible placements, students' experiences can range from acting as a law clerk to an administrative law judge or hearing officer to advocating before an agency. Students will submit weekly journals, describing and reflecting on their experiences in the field, and will meet in a series of seminars with the course instructor and/or the Clinical Director to explore the relationship between the principles covered in the substantive class and the students' fieldwork. NOTE: ELIGIBILITY FOR SOME PLACEMENTS IN THIS COURSE IS DEPENDENT ON SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF A BACKGROUND CHECK. This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Other Course

    Alternative Dispute Resolution

    2 Credit (Professional Skills)

    This course focuses on alternative methods of dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. In-class simulations of fact patterns are used as a means of illustrating certain resolution methods. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirements.

  • Other Course

    Accounting for Lawyers

    2 Credit (Elective)

    Designed to give students a familiarity with accounting and business theory and terminology. Heavy emphasis is placed on planning and analyzing various business transactions from an accounting and legal perspective using financial data and incorporating tax implications. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirement.

  • Other Course

    Modern Real Estate Transactions

    3 Credit (Elective)

    Focuses on three principal areas: real estate sales, conveyancing, and mortgage law. In the area of sales transactions, the course covers such topics as the lawyer's professional responsibility, duties owed by brokers to sellers and buyers, offers of purchase, purchase and sales agreements, remedies for breach, and closing. In the area of conveyancing, the course covers the requisites and construction of deeds, escrows, surveyor malpractice, recording procedures, liabilities of grantors for defective conditions, title searches, title abstracts, and title insurance. In the mortgage law component, the course covers the defining characteristics and standard provisions of a mortgage, mortgage substitutes, discrimination in lending, lien priorities and subordination of interests, assignments by mortgagees, transfer by mortgagors, foreclosures, redemption, waste, usury, and fixture security interests. The course emphasizes the negotiation and proper drafting of instruments.

  • Other Course

    Negotiation

    3 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Explores the theory and the art of resolving conflict through negotiation. Various styles are presented for comparison and analysis. Students are urged to evaluate their own intuitive style and to experience others. Practical experience is achieved through one-on-one and group negotiations exercises. The theory of conflict, strategic choice, ethical issues, and the negotiator's dilemma are presented in a variety of substantive contexts. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Estate Planning

    2 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Covers both estate planning for smaller estates and tax-oriented estate planning. After a consideration of planning techniques for the smaller estate, basic concepts of federal estate and gift taxation are introduced through the study of relevant estate and gift tax code sections and regulations. Thereafter, the course considers various problems involved in planning for the preservation and disposition of wealth. Among the tools studied are wills, revocable and irrevocable inter vivos trusts, and various gifting techniques. Careful analysis is given to the impact of estate, gift, and income tax laws on the disposition of property under different types of plans. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirements.