“Pioneering Elder Law Attorney Draws on Legal Skills, Passion, and Compassion” – Dana Walsh Sivak Profiled in Wolters Kluwer’s Of Counsel
Falcon Rappaport & Berkman’s Dana Walsh Sivak, Esq., Partner and Co-Chair of the Elder Law Practice Group, shares her inspiring journey as an elder law attorney and her passion for advocating change in an interview featured in a recent issue of Wolter Kluwer’s national publication Of Counsel: The Legal Practice and Management Report.
The article highlights Dana’s enthusiasm and passion for her work, and the dedication Dana has to her clients, recognizing her “stellar reputation for her top-notch client service, legal acumen, creative thinking, writing and speaking skills, and . . . her passion for what she does.”
When asked to reflect upon what motivated her to become a lawyer, Dana shared that it was primarily a desire to help people. "Since I was younger, my whole thought about my future was that I would help people. I didn’t really know what that was going to look like... I really liked the idea of being part of a system that was going to maybe effect positive change on the world,” she says.
She went on to clarify that her path into elder law was unexpected but most fulfilling. "Elder law found me," she explains. While Dana had originally considered careers in social work and psychology, she ultimately found herself drawn to the legal field where she could “advocate for people who aren’t able to do that for themselves."
Dana’s passion for guardianship work has allowed her to make a significant impact. "Guardianship work is really where my heart is the most,” she states. “It’s very emotional and there are very high stakes.” Dana adds that she often worries about the outcomes of her cases and the well-being of her clients, and that helping her clients navigate difficult choices in guardianship can be especially challenging. “It can be hard for them to see through all of that… and to hear what I’m trying to counsel them through.”
Later in the interview, Dana illustrates one case that stood out as particularly complex and personally rewarding, where, in the process of seeking to secure Medicaid coverage for an individual without undocumented immigration status, she uncovered a compelling life story. The individual, it turned out, had been abandoned after World War II and brought to the United States as a young child. Through Dana’s resourcefulness and persistence, she was able to obtain documentation - even the manifest of the airplane that flew him here - showing his lawful travel to the United States as a child, and proving his legal status in the United States. As a result of Dana's advocacy, the individual's Medicaid application was approved, securing a payment source enabling him to receive the ongoing long-term care services that he required.
Beyond her successes in guardianship and long-term care planning, Dana has been a pioneer in advocating for increased access to medical cannabis for seniors. She discusses the societal bias and stigma surrounding this issue and the barriers that prevent certain older individuals from being able to choose whether to incorporate medical cannabis into their treatment plans. As she continues her efforts towards expanding access to Medicaid and medical cannabis for seniors, she hopes to make a lasting impact on the field of elder law and improve the lives of those she serves.
Read the full July 2023 issue of Of Counsel to learn more about Dana’s significant contributions to Elder Law here.
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