AALS Elder Law Section Honors Professor Morgan for Stellar Career

Professor Rebecca Morgan.
Law Professor Rebecca Morgan

From being an early advocate for giving aging populations distinct legal considerations to sewing masks for nursing home residents at the dawn of the pandemic (when face coverings were rare), Law Professor Rebecca Morgan is an elder law pioneer and a tireless champion for aging populations.

That’s why the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Section on Aging and the Law is giving its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Morgan, who is Stetson Law’s Boston Asset Management Chair in Elder Law. AALS will honor her during its 2023 annual meeting in January.

To those tasked with reviewing nominations for the award, she was an obvious choice.

“Professor Morgan was selected for the AALS Aging and The Law Section’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award because she embodies everything that this award stands for,” said Katie Liss, Chair of AALS’ Aging & the Law Section and Executive Director of the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center at DePaul College of Law. “Professor Morgan has selflessly given and continues to give so much of herself and time to help law students, colleagues, and the community through her mentoring of others, writing, speaking, activism, and care for the aging community.”

A clear choice

To Law Professor Mark Bauer, it was obvious that Morgan should be the award’s inaugural recipient. That’s why he wrote a three-page nomination letter detailing her accomplishments and her transformative impact on elder law, including how critical she was in raising the profile of elder law as an essential doctrine.

“While laws concerning elders exist from the dawn of civilization, Becky is one of the few leading scholars who worked to give Elder Law recognition as a discrete doctrine,” Bauer said. “Plenty of people have studied and practice law that includes elder law, such as Trusts & Estates and Wills, as well as guardianship, custodial care, congregate housing, social benefit programs, and nursing home care.  But dividing the subject meant that no one was looking at elders as a separate group with distinct needs.”

Through founding the Center for Excellence in Elder Law, which hosts a J.D. concentration program, launching a distance LL.M. program, leading elder-focused consumer-protection projects, countless legal and non-legal pro bono projects benefitting elders locally and nationally, and many more efforts, she changed that.

“It is challenging to imagine elder law today, academically, in the law, and in regular practice, without Professor Morgan’s enormous and enormously positive contributions,” Bauer said.

Selfless Work, Countless Achievements

Morgan’s list of accomplishments in the elder-law space is seemingly endless. In addition to founding the Center for Excellence in Elder Law and launching the J.D. and LL.M. programs. Chief among them are:

  • Co-designing and raising funds for the nation’s first courtroom designed to accommodate elders.
  • Offering a special one-credit short course on Elder Law to increase student interest and awareness that she teaches as an overload most semesters.
  • Providing advice, support, and partnership on elder-focused programs for the City of St. Petersburg (FL), senators and governors of Florida, and officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Serving in many leadership roles with organizations such as the National Academy for Elder Law Attorneys, the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Law and Aging, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, the American Society on Aging, and others.
  • Ensuring nearly all students with an elder law concentration are placed in suitable jobs when they graduate.
  • Recently, she joined the Special Needs Alliance’s Board of Directors.

She’s also a warm, kind person who makes time for the community she has fostered, colleagues say.

“Professor Morgan is a joy to be around, always upbeat, energetic, and frankly, quite inspiring,” Bauer said. “I can say without exaggeration that she inspires people to enter elder law or generally engage in public service to elders every single day. She is always the first to pitch in and she leads by example.”

Morgan said working as a law professor has been the honor of her life. It’s not something many people get to do, she said, adding that she’s honored to be recognized for doing work she loves.

“I am so grateful to the section for selecting me for this award,” Morgan said. “Educating law students on the legal issues facing older persons is so much fun. It is an area of law that is always interesting and very much cutting edge.”

Learn more about Professor Morgan and the Center for Excellence in Elder Law.