Brooklyn Law School and the David Berg Center for Law and Aging have created a new joint postgraduate fellowship opportunity. Malya Levin, who graduated from the Law School cum laude in 2012, was chosen as the first Law and Aging Fellowship recipient.
The Law and Aging Fellowship provides recent graduates with the opportunity to work on elder law projects in a variety of legal areas. The focus of the projects is based on the client needs at the David Berg Center housed at the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention and Research, the nation’s first residential elder abuse shelter at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.
The fellowship is particularly timely given the growing aging population in the United States. According to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the number of persons in the U.S. who are 65 years old or older was 39.6 million in 2009 (the last year for which data is available). That number is expected to nearly double to 72.1 million by 2030.
The Law School’s relationship with the Weinberg Center dates back to 2009, when Deirdre Lok ’03, now the Weinberg Center’s Assistant Director and General Counsel, began recruiting BLS student interns through Jill Backer, Brooklyn Law School’s Associate Director for Employer Relations. Over the years, Lok continued to rely on BLS students and together with Backer and Danielle Sorkin, Associate Director of the Office of Public Service Programs, developed the idea of a fellowship.
“I am extremely excited to be collaborating with BLS on this new fellowship,” said Lok. “The aging population has specific and ever-increasing legal needs engendered by a complex set of factors, which may include declining physical and cognitive abilities, complicated medical needs, and increased reliance on public benefits and financial management by third parties,” she explained. “My hope is that formalizing the David Berg Center’s relationship with BLS in this way will further our shared goal of helping new lawyers take their first steps in this burgeoning field.”
Fellows work under the direct supervision of Lok in a variety of practice areas, including litigation, negotiation, advocacy, client contact, appearances in family and housing courts, and Medicaid fair hearings. The fellows also work on long-term development projects geared towards increasing awareness and education around issues of elder abuse in the New York legal community.
Levin demonstrated an interest in elder law throughout her Law School career. She served as a research assistant to an elder law NGO in Israel during the summer after her first year of law school, and as an intern at the Weinberg Center during her second year. During the summer after her second year of law school, she published the article “Let us Prey: The Victimizing of the Elderly,” Plain Views: Translating Knowledge and Skills into Effective Chaplaincy and Palliative Care, published on HealthCareChaplaincy.org, Vol. 8 No 11, July 6, 2011. While in her third year of Law School, she began researching and writing a journal article in collaboration with Weinberg Center staff about the impact of New York State guardianship proceedings on elder abuse victims. The article was just completed and is now being submitted for publication.
“I entered law school knowing that I wanted to use my degree to educate and empower vulnerable populations, and BLS gave me the opportunity to experience that type of work in a number of contexts,” said Levin, who also interned at The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Juvenile Rights Practice, and The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. “My experience working with the Weinberg Center showed me that elder law encompasses far more than trusts, estates, and guardianships. I am thrilled at the opportunity to take my skills and knowledge of this area to the next level.”