How Elder Law Became a Practice

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Older Americans Act

Elder Law was born out of need and has become a specialty arm of the legal profession. It’s origins date back to 1965 when the  Older Americans Act (OAA) was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. 

“Congress declares that, in keeping with the traditional American concept of the inherent dignity of the individual in our democratic society, the older people of our Nation are entitled to…” OAA Act of 1965

This was the first federal initiative to address and provide a wide range of services for senior citizens. Among those were legal services which ultimately created the practice of elder law.

The American Bar Association recognized the growing need for legal aid for seniors and formed its own Commission of Law and Aging in 1978. As the years passed law schools took notice and in 1985, the Association of American Law Schools formed a section on aging and the law. Today law schools across the county offer elder law courses as part of the curriculum. 

While most areas of the law focus on a specific discipline, elder law focuses on a specific type of person. The goal is to help aging Americans to legally navigate the issues of life that arise simply because of age.

To strengthen and secure the legal autonomy, quality of life, and quality of care of elders’ – The American Bar Association

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