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The Elder Law and Special Needs Section provides services and opportunities for involvement on issues relating to Elder Law and Special Needs Law, for members of the New York State Bar Association.  Among activities, the Section presents educational  programs and publishes materials on practice, procedure and developments to enhance the competence and skill of lawyers who practice in this field and improve their ability to deliver the most efficient and highest quality of services to their clients; prepare studies, analyses and recommendations to seek improvement in the law and procedure relating to elder law; and undertake projects to increase the understanding of senior citizens, their families and the general public concerning legal issues affecting the elderly.

Contact the Elder Law and Special Needs Section Liaison

To learn more about this Section, please contact Bridget Donlon
[email protected]
(518) 487-5531

Please do not contact the Section liaison with a request for legal advice or an attorney referral. You can instead visit our ‘Public Resources’ or ‘Lawyer Referral Service’ page for this type of request.

Christopher Bray

Christopher Bray

Christopher Bray brings extensive experience in long term care, estate planning and guardianship to his new role as chair. Bray has held several positions in his 19 years as a member of NYSBA including district delegate and is also a member of the NYSBA Trust & Estate Section. Bray volunteers often speaking to community groups about Elder Law. He is a graduate of Syracuse University and Albany Law School.

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Elder and Special Needs Law Journal

The Elder and Special Needs Law Journal (formerly the Elder Law Attorney) features peer written substantive articles relating to the practice of elder law on such topics as long term care, Article 81, advance directives, Medicaid, SNTs, guardianship, Social Security, tax issues, and estate planning. Edited by Katherine Carpenter, Esq. and Lauren Enea, Esq., the Elder and Special Needs Law Journal is published by the Elder Law and Special Needs Section of the New York State Bar Association and available to Section members only.

The Elder and Special Needs Law Journal encourages article submissions on topics of interest to members of the Section. Writing an article for a NYSBA Section publication is a great way to get your name out in the legal community and advertise your knowledge. Our authors are respected state-wide for their legal expertise in such areas as the DRA, Medicaid, SNTs, grandparent’s rights, and guardianships.

Author Guidelines

NYSBA has created comprehensive author guidelines, with information regarding our reprint policy, style guidelines, and obtaining MCLE Author Credits.



Honorable Joel K. Asarch Elder Law and Special Needs Section Scholarship
Asarch Scholarship
The Elder Law and Special Needs Section encourages law students, through an elder law clinic experience, to learn about important legislative developments, regulations, and case laws impacting the elderly and disabled and to provide representation to those clients struggling with a variety of legal issues and problems related to aging and incapacity.

Through the scholarship, the Section aspires to advance opportunities for the disabled by implementing a preference for awarding the scholarship to a student who demonstrates a present and permanent physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual.

The ultimate goal of the scholarship is to create a network and cultivate relationships among lawyers whose practice focuses on elder law and special needs planning and law students planning to practice in these areas to encourage the practice of elder law and special needs planning among lawyers throughout the State of New York.

Application Deadline Extended: December 1, 2021

T. David Stapleton Memorial Scholarship

The Section is pleased to offer this Scholarship in honor of former Section Chair, T. David Stapleton. The scholarship, with a value of $2,500, will be awarded to a second year (2L) or third year (3L) law student who is enrolled in a law school in the State of New York in one of the following regions: Central New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Western New York who has a demonstrated interest in the Elder Law and Special Needs practice areas and/or a law student that is from this region, studying at a law school outside the region who has clear plans to return to the region to practice Elder Law.

T. David Stapleton practiced in Auburn, NY and served as NYSBA Elder Law & Special Needs Section Chair from 2011-2012, after having followed the officer track and being involved in leadership within the Section leading up to such role. David not only led as a tremendous lawyer, he advocated for “upstate” involvement, sought to expand our knowledge of literature by peppering almost every writing and conversation with a poignant quote, encouraged a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise and demonstrated the importance of family, friends, and camaraderie among lawyers.

David’s signature issue during his tenure as Chair was the expansion and rescinding of expanded Medicaid estate recovery. Some will recall his having mentioned that while he understood the underlying concept of the state in seeking to expand recovery options, he truly believed the powers-that-be did not appreciate the devastating impact it would have on the “little folks” who would lose even modest inheritances if the expansion was carried out.

While not diminutive in stature, David always diminished his breadth of knowledge of the law, often calling himself a “small, upstate lawyer.” It is our honor to offer this scholarship in David’s memory to another potential “small, upstate lawyer.”

Application Deadline Extended: December 10, 2021

Mentor Program

Elder Law and Special Needs Section Offers Opportunities for Mentoring

The Elder Law and Special Needs Section is pleased to announce it is accepting applications for the 2020 mentorship program. As in prior years, this program will pair an experienced elder law attorney with a Section member new to the practice of elder law for the coming year.  The term is for one year, commencing April 30, 2020 and ending May 1, 2021.  The mentoring program will provide

  • A one-on-one mentoring initiative matching experienced Elder Law and Special Needs attorneys with those who are newer to the practice; and
  • Opportunities to work together on section programs, reports and events that will enhance careers and the profession.

The mentoring relationships will incorporate a number of different elements, encompassing a mix of formal and more “ad hoc” opportunities for mentors and mentees to collaborate.  Section Committee Chairs are poised to welcome mentor/mentee pairs to work together on committee projects, reports, events, etc.  As for ad hoc opportunities, we look forward to seeing what pairs come up with, and to learning from one another.  We plan that there will be at least one communication per month, whether in person, by telephone or email, to keep continuity and maximize the value to the participants.


  1. You must be practicing elder law for 5 years or fewer;
  2. You must be a member in good standing of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section of NYSBA; and
  3. You must attend at least 2 Section meetings.

We are hoping to make 21 matches this year:

7 matches for Mentees living or practicing in the 1st, 2nd, 12th and 13th Judicial Districts.
7 matches for Mentees living or practicing in the 9th, 10th and 11th Judicial Districts.
7 matches for Mentees living or practicing in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Judicial Districts.

While we are hoping to accommodate as many pairings as possible, in the event we receive more requests for Mentees than we have available Mentors, selection of Mentees will be made randomly.

If you are interested in applying to be a Mentor or Mentee, please fill out the appropriate form below and email to JulieAnn Calereso ([email protected]).

We look forward to making this a rewarding experience for both Mentors and Mentees!


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