Law Tips: Caring Conversations with your Elder Law Clients

Is there ever poetry within the lawyer soul? To lean forward into the wind?  What does mere conversation accomplish?

Doug Germann, South Bend elder law attorney,  states that he is “called strongly to the work of end of life conversations.”  He speaks to the lawyer’s involvement in these situations during ICLEF’s 2012 Elder Law Institute. During his discussion of the scenarios that occur, he provides these thoughts on the “Love & Ethics” aspects of planning for end of life:

  • For our clients, it is love for the child to say to their elder: “I have heard you and I will do what you want.”
  • It is love for the elder to speak their wishes: “Here are the things I value, and I want for you to have an easier time standing in for me.”
  • For us as lawyers, it is the highest ethics: We are leaning forward, doing the positive good.

Mr. Germann wrote the following poem expressing his concerns and opinions on a lawyer’s ethical involvement in these conversations:

Caring Conversations
How can we see our ethics large enough?
Is there ever poetry
within the lawyer soul?
We claim a profession,
that we are not in a money-getting business
-this is but the start of our journey

We claim an advanced and genteel ethics
and when we teach each other
often are we leaning backwards
telling ourselves what not
to do
ls it time to search out
the best
we ought to do
to lean forward into the wind?

ln our society too often we
deny each other our own deaths by
chemotherapy continued too long,
looking for a cure
when healing is what we want,
withholding comfort,
making the frail to die in violent and noisy
and distinctly unrestful environs
ls this right? ls this just? ls this human?
What is our lawyerly, counseling role?

To lean forward, into the wind?
To risk the conversation
to give away
our time and advice
our larger caring
our essence
to open this conversation
within family,
between patient and physician,
between dient and lawyer?

What does mere conversation accomplish?
Conversation informs,
conversation explores,
conversation reshapes,
conversation creates
What is mere about that?

How can we see our ethics large enough
to step into the wind
to start a caring conversation?
Who and what and where
and how and why
might we engage?
What large thing
can we give away
to enlarge the world
make the world more humane?
There are no answers from
the front of the room
all actionable answers have to come
from you
from us

Thank you to Doug Germann for sharing his personal insights. ICLEF’s 2012 Elder Law Institute is available anytime, anywhere as an Online / On Demand Seminar. Click Here for additional details.

Or, Click Here to learn more about the 2013 Elder Law Institute, October 10-11, 2013.


About our Law Tips faculty contributor:
Douglas D. Germann, Sr., P.C., South Bend Elder Caring Law.   Doug is an Elder Law attorney, which means that he helps people in Indiana and Michigan with with 1. their Wills, Trusts and Estate Plans, 2. their Estate Administration and Probate, and 3. their Long-Term Care, including Veteran’s Administration Aid & Attendance.    He is co-chair of the Education Committee for the Indiana Patient Preferences Coalition, a group working to bring POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) to Indiana. 

About our Law Tips blogger:
Nancy HurleyLaw Tips blogger, has long-standing connections with Indiana lawyers. She was formerly a member of the ISBA and IBF staffs for over 30 years. Nancy’s latest lifestyle venture is with ICLEF. We are utilizing her exceptional writing and interviewing skills while exploring how her Indiana-lawyer background fits with ICLEF’s needs. When she isn’t ferreting out new topics for Law Tips, her work can be found in our Speaker Spotlight blogs, postings on the ICLEF Facebook and Twitter pages, and other places her legal experience lends itself.

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ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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