World Elder Law Study Group

The World Elder Law Study Group offers elder law professors, practitioners and other professionals from around the world interested in law and aging issues, research and education, a chance to meet up with colleagues and exchange ideas on elder law research, issues and teaching. The Study Group has been meeting annually since 2007. The event features panel discussions and presentations by participants from around the globe, historically attracting academics and practitioners from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, New Zealand, and Australia. The event remains one of the only international forums that offers a focus on law and policy in relation to aging.

Upcoming Study Group

The 2013 World Elder Law Study Group is being held on November 11 in Waikiki, Hawaii, United States. The event is being held in the Hale Koa Hotel on the beautiful and internationally renown Waikiki beach, located on Oahu.

The event is being held in conjunction with the International Elder Law Conference with a Veterans Focus (November 12-13), being hosted by the University of Hawaii Elder Law Program, with the support of Stetson University College of Law (Florida).

The CCEL is currently accepting proposals for the 2013 study group. Please submit a 1-2 paragraph abstract by September 16, 2013. Proposals should be emailed to CCEL National Director Krista James at

The registration fee for the Study Group is $75 plus applicable taxes.

To register for the study group contact Sarah Chao at Registrants are invited to join other participants in the Study Day and the conference in a traditional luau on the vening of November 11. Information on the luau can be found here.

More information on the International Elder Law Conference

Past World Elder Law Study Group Presentations

View the agenda from the 2012 study group here.

2010 World Elder Law Study Group Presentations

Professor Mark Bauer, Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law

  • Exacerbated by Success: Consumer Fraud and the Incomplete Integration of North American Financial Systems

Dr. Israel Doron, Senior Lecturer, University of Haifa

ABSTRACT – In recent years, there has been a growing interest and debate around the question of whether there is a need for an international convention on the rights of older persons. The debate around this question is far from simple or consensual. Although there are strong voices in favour, there are also strong arguments against. Moreover, the mere fact that a legal gap exists at the international level is not a sufficient reason for the advancement of a new convention. Hence, the goal of this presentation will be not only to provide a detailed analysis of the arguments in support and against such a convention but also to propose some specific recommendations for the advancement of such a convention in the future.

Dr. Nina Kohn, Associate Professor of Law, Syracuse University

Professor Doug Surtees, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan

ABSTRACT – Professor Surtees completed a research project into the effectiveness of Saskatchewan’s guardianship and co-decision-making legislation. As part of his research, he conducted a survey of lawyers and guardians/co-decision-makers who had participated in the process. The purpose of these surveys was to guage the respondent’s views towards the guardianship/co-decision-making process they had participated in. The results indicate a wide array of attitudes and a variety of understandings of the process. While it is clear that most applications hire lawyer to assist them with the application process, it appears the fees charged by lawyers for apparently the same services vary dramatically. In addition, some participants felt applicants should seek more powers than appropriate under the legislation. Professor Surtees’ presentation explores some of these varying perceptions of lawyers and guardian/co-decision-makers involved in the guardianship/co-decision-making process.

Kimberly Whaley, Founder and Senior Partner, Whaley Estate Litigation

ABSTRACT – While a Power of Attorney document (the “POA”) can be used for the good of a vulnerable adult or an incapable person, there can be a dark side to what is in fact a very powerful and far-reaching document. More often than not it becomes apparent that the grantor of such a document never put their mind to just what the powers are that are being bestowed, nor the ability of the chosen attorney to do the job and fulfill their duties or whether that attorney can truly be trusted to act in an honest and trustworthy manner. As a result of the foregoing, there is an extremely high risk that a vulnerable older adult or incapable person may fall victim to abuse as a result of having a POA. Although a somewhat bleak assumption, given the many cases of abuse that come in and out of our offices, in our estimation there is very likely a high number of attorney-inflicted abuse cases that simply go unmonitored or unnoticed by our legal system. Through a discussion of the relevant case law, this presentation will expose some particular ways in which POAs can lead to financial abuse and neglect of older adults. A discussion of the ways in which such abuse or neglect can be prevented will follow.

Helen Wheeler, L.L.M. Candidate, UBC Faculty of Law

  • Ageism and the Justice System: Feature of Aging

2009 World Elder Law Study Group Presentations


Professor Mark Bauer & Laura Watts

  • Consumer Protection and Unfair Contracts

Marie-Therese (MT) Connolly, Senior Scholar Woodrow Wilson Centre, Director of Long Life Justice at Appleseed

  • Telling the Story of Elder Abuse

Professor Richard Kaplan, Peter and Sarah Pedersen Professor of Law, University of Illinois

  • Increasing Diversity in Aging (presentation only). Professor Kaplan’s other publications can be accessed here

Dr. Nina Kohn, Associate Professor of Law, Syracuse University

Jean E Meadus, Lawyer and Advocate, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly

  • Elder Abuse in Long Term Care Facilities

2008 World Elder Law Study Group Presentations

Professor Kim Dayton, Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law

ABSTRACT – Prof Dayton starts this session with an argument that a feminist analysis of law and ageing is crucial to understanding the theoretical field of elder law. This is so not only because of demographics: women consist the majority of the older population, especially that of the older-old and the poor. This is so because feminist legal theory is actually rich and diverse as to include different critical perspective on the ways law constructs old age – in general, and elderly women – in specific.

Dr. Israel Doron, Senior Lecturer, University of Haifa

ABSTRACT – Dr. Doron in his presentation tries to escape the “monist” theoretical approaches to elder law: the key for conceptualizing elder law is not found in one dimension or a single perspective. Rather, a multi-dimensional model is needed in order to encompass this dynamic field. Known for his international and comparative perspectives on law and ageing, Dr. Doron provides a model which consists of five different “legal dimensions,” which are inter-related and inter-connected.

Professor Rebecca Morgan, Director of the Stetson’s Centre for Excellence in Elder Law, Stetson University

  • The Future of Elder Law

Professor Winsor Schmidt

Endowed Chair/Distinguished Scholar in Urban Health Policy, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Professor of Family and Geriatric Medicine, Professor of Health Management and Systems Sciences, University of Louisville School of Medicine

ABSTRACT – From a critical mental health law perspective, Prof. Schmidt argues that law and aging can be seen as a “potential mechanism of socially controlling the social deviance of aging through the therapeutic state and therapeutic jurisprudence.” He proposes to adopt an alternative mental health theory approach to law and aging, which is normatively based on the premise of free will and responsibility and a legal mental health system that abolishes involuntary civil commitment and has sanism as a principal challenge. From this original theoretical perspective, it is clear that the challenge elder law faces in the future is to transform itself from a social control mechanism of a therapeutic state and a therapeutic jurisprudence into an emancipating, empowering, integrating assertion in an aging society.

  • Professor Schmidt’s other publications include: Schmidt, Teaster, Wood, Lawrence & Mendiondo, “Development and Trends in the Status of Public Guardianship: Highlights of the 2007 National Public GuardianshipStudy,” 33 (5) Mental and Physical Disability Law Reporter 728-732 (September October 2009). PMID: 20041583; Schmidt, Akinci & Magill, “Study Finds Certified Guardians with Legal Work Experience Are at Greater Risk for Elder Abuse Than Certified Guardians with Other Work Experience,” 7 (2) NAELA Journal 171-197 (Fall 2011); Schmidt, “Medicalization of Aging: The Upside and the Downside,” 13 (1) Marquette Elder’s Advisor 55-88 (Fall 2011) & P. Teaster, W. Schmidt, E. Wood, S. Lawrence & M. Mendiondo, Public Guardianship: In the Best Interests of Incapacitated People?, Praeger Publishers (2010), 262

Professor Doug Surtees, Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan

ABSTRACT – Prof. Surtees describes in his presentation the historical development of the disability rights movement, and the different mile-stones along its way. Taking up this rich experience, Prof. Surtees argues that lessons learnt from the disability movement are relevant to the field of elder law. Most importantly, the concept of “universalism,” which has been developed in the legal realm of disability rights, is of much relevance to the conceptualization of elder law.

2007 World Elder Law Study Group Presentations

Dr. Larry Anderson, Psychology Professor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Ken Cavalier & Professor Tony Sheppard

  • The Wicked Witch of Mandatory Retirement in BC is Dead! What Now?

Jared Samuel Childers, Esq., LL.M.

ABSTRACT -The movement of companies, workers and retirees across national boundaries has increased over the last several decades and totalization agreements are more important now than ever before. What will happen to the Canadian retirees, who have spent a portion of their careers in the United States and want to retire in the United States, but do not have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security benefits? What if the Canadian retiree has not worked or lived in Canada long enough to qualify for Old Age Security or Canada Pension Plan?

Understanding totalization agreements between the United States, Canada, Mexico and other countries is increasingly important to professionals who are called upon to counsel clients facing decisions about retirement. Policy makers also must consider questions of essential fairness and affordability in determining the scope of future totalization treaties.

The presentation analyzed the requirements for qualifying for U.S. Social Security benefits as an American citizen as well as how to qualify as a Canadian citizen. Social Security concerns and controversial reform options were also addressed.

Dr. Israel Doron, Senior Lecturer, University of Haifa

ABSTRACT – Until now, no attempt has been made to develop a research tool to provide a broad descriptive picture of the actual knowledge that older people have of their legal rights. This article will describe a first attempt, conducted in Israel, to create such a tool, known as the Facts on Law and Ageing Quiz (FoLAQ). This quiz was developed to provide a short and standardised tool for assessing older people’s knowledge of their legal rights in Israel. It is also intended to serve as a research platform for similar studies in other countries worldwide. The research was designed using a quantitative approach. The research population consisted of adult Jews, aged 50 or more years, living in the community in Israel. Using a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI), a randomly chosen sample of 227 persons aged 50 and over was asked 20 multiple-choice questions on central legal issues, and 13 closed questions on their socio-demographic background. The findings revealed that, in general, the majority of older persons in Israel know little about their legal rights. Specifically, the most vulnerable groups in this context were the less educated, the poor, the older-old, and women. Finally, the findings also showed that knowledge gaps were particularly obvious with regard to (1) national legal schemes covering social security in old age, and (2) the rights of older people regarding Israel’s national health insurance scheme.

Sue Field, Public Trustee NSW Fellow in Elder Law at University of Western Sydney

  • Research Update from Elder Law Australia

Sharon Koehn, Charmaine Spencer & Eunju Hwang

ABSTACT – Reuniting immigrant families has been considered an important goal in Canadian policy (Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC), 2006). When an elderly relative is sponsored under the Family Class immigration category, the sponsor makes an unconditional undertaking of support for a period of ten years to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. This is a longer period than for any other Family Class group. In addition to their legal status as dependents, sponsored seniors–the majority from India and China–are left financially and socially vulnerable by a constellation of cultural, situational and structural factors. Based on case studies of the South Asian and Chinese immigrant populations by authors, Koehn and Hwang, and the legal expertise of author Spencer, we conclude that Canada’s laws and policies have an important effect on intergenerational tension, the senior’s status, social isolation, as well as the risk of abuse and neglect or domestic and workplace exploitation. These factors can influence access to essential services such as housing and health care services. While further evidence is needed, findings from preliminary studies indicate the need for policy-level revisions as well as other approaches to reducing the vulnerability of this significant subpopulation of ethnic minority seniors.

Dr. Nina Kohn, Associate Professor of Law, Syracuse University

  • Preserving Voting Rights of Elderly and Cognitively Impaired Citizens

Peter Whitehead, Public Trustee NSW, Australia

  • Response to Financial Abuse in NSW-awaiting consent


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