Attorney Brittany O.L. Smith, Esq., recently earned her Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®) certification from the National Elder Law Foundation. The CELA® certification is frequently referred to as the "gold standard" for elder law and special needs practitioners, and only just over 500 attorneys have this certification in the entire country, including just 67 in Pennsylvania. Brittany joins fellow Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak attorneys Julie Steinbacher and Amos Goodall as CELAs, giving the law firm three of 67 in the entire state, and three of just six total that practice in the greater Williamsport and State College areas combined.
Preparation for the CELA designation is rigorous and a multi-stepped process. Applicants for the certification must have practiced law for at least five years, half of which must be in the special needs/elder law field for at least the last three of those years. They also must demonstrate substantial involvement in special needs and elder law practice by showing a minimum number of individual cases spread across a number of different categories making up the "elder law" definition. They also must complete a day-long written exam, of which passing rates are usually below 50%. Finally, applicants must undergo a review by peers and colleagues, focused on the applicant's reputation for ethical and competent representation in elder law and special needs planning matters.
Brittany is licensed to practice law in both Pennsylvania and Virginia. She has been with Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak since 2015, and heads up the firm's long-term care planning and estate administration departments. Working in conjunction with long-term care planner and Certified Medicaid Planner Tammy Zilske, Brittany also handles Medicaid planning, guardianships, veterans benefits, special needs planning and tax planning clients.
She holds a B.A. in politics from Messiah College, and a law degree from West Virginia University, and has served as a judicial law clerk for several Common Pleas Court judges. A member of both the Pennsylvania and Virginia Bar Associations, Brittany is also a member of the Lycoming County Bar Association, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), and is an accredited attorney with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This year, she was also named a 2020 Rising Star in the annual Super Lawyers rating service compiled by Thomson Reuters, one of five attorneys from Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak to attain either a Super Lawyers or a Rising Star designation in the 2020 list.