I fell backwards into Elder Care Law. During law school I had the high-minded ambition of becoming a white shoe litigator at a big downtown firm. A brief stint doing so culminated with the realization that litigation was not for me. With that disenchantment, I started a simple estate planning practice out of my spare bedroom.
I truly enjoyed estate planning – not drafting the documents so much as the relationships I built with clients and professionals. Gone were the countless hours of case law research behind the computer. I welcomed the relationships of working with each individual client.
One afternoon, a client asked a question about Medicaid for his mother; a topic I was thoroughly unqualified to answer but resolved to do so regardless. Until that moment Elder Law was, to me, suing nursing homes. Shortly thereafter I accepted a position with an Elder Law firm.
Initially, I was underwhelmed. Much of my work was little more than drafting estate planning documents, as I had before, filing Medicaid applications, and sorting through paperwork. Until Betty came along.
Betty was in her eighties, living with a friend, in Bucks County, PA, in need of a Will and Powers of Attorney. We met in her home around her kitchen table. We talked about her career (a teacher) and mine, her family (two siblings, one in New York, one deceased) and mine, her dog (a small white poodle whose name is escaping me) and mine.
Occasionally, during our meetings a neighbor or friend would stop by. Betty always introduced me by saying “This is my Lawyer, he’s my guy.” Eventually, Betty signed her documents and I parted company – as I had for my other clients.
Approximately one year later, I received a call from Betty’s friend. Betty was on hospice in a local nursing home. She had some final questions and asked for “my guy” to visit her. I drove to the nursing home and sat at her bedside. She asked questions about her estate planning documents and thanked me for always answering her questions and spending time with her over the past several years. Betty died shortly after our meeting by her nursing home bed.
I realized during my last meeting with Betty that Elder Law is much more than drafting documents and filing Medicaid applications. Elder Law can be Elder Care. I resolved to change the focus of my practice. By joining the Rothkoff Law Group in 2014, I now find myself an advocate to help improve the lives of seniors.
I enjoy learning about our clients families, their past, and their careers. I work with our Elder Care Law team to ensure loved ones are properly cared for, and I try to reduce the anxiety of finding and paying for care.
When I graduated law school, I never envisioned myself practicing Elder Care Law. Now, I cannot dream of practicing anything else. Thank you Betty.