What is AFELA?

What is AFELA?

AFELA stands for the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys. AFELA is the Florida state chapter of the national organization known as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). There are many other state chapters of NAELA around the nation. AFELA is one of the largest chapters. Membership in The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys requires membership in NAELA and an adherence to its aspirational standards for professional behavior.

AFELA was founded in 1993 as a professional association of attorneys who are dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to the elderly. Currently, it serves as the pre-eminent organization for private practice elder law attorneys in the State of Florida. Its primary focus is advanced level education, yet the Academy offers several CLE in-person programs and web-based programs on a wide range of topics in the elder law concentration. One of its most lauded membership benefits is the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys listserv which is an open forum for questions & answers among its members on nearly every elder law topic imaginable.

The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys is often confused as being a part of the Florida Bar. It is not. Consequently, AFELA is different than the Florida Bar’s Elder Law Section, with its own board of directors and its own administrator. For example, if an elder law attorney in private practice wanted to join AFELA, the elder law attorney would not contact the Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar. Also, it is important to note that AFELA’s membership is made up of ONLY elder law attorneys in private practice. AFELA membership does not include judges, or attorneys in any of Florida’s government agencies, or members of affiliate organizations.

Nearly all members of The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys are members of the Elder Law Section too. Although some could imagine that AFELA and the Elder Law Section would compete with each other. However, the Academy and the Elder Law Section share a unique and close working relationship. It is through this mutually beneficial relationship the “Joint Public Policy Task Force for the Elderly & Disabled” (the Task Force) was formed over 10 years ago to address concerns with administrative public policy and proposed legislation affecting the practice of elder law attorneys in Florida. The Task Force is balanced with 4 Officers of each organization, and 5 attorneys selected at large. Since this is a wholly volunteer-based group, it is through the financial contributions by AFELA and Section members that allow advocacy to occur within administrative and legislative forums.

If you are an elder law attorney in private practice, we are interested in having you join the AFELA membership. For more information, you may contact our Executive Director, Jennifer Dooley.

Authored by Emma Hemness