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Elder Law Institute (28th Annual)

Speaker(s): David C. Leven, Deborah A. Scalise, Douglas J. Chu, Jane Landry-Reyes, Jeffrey G. Abrandt, Nancy Burner
Recorded on: Apr. 21, 2016
PLI Program #: 149628

David Leven has been the Executive Director of End of Life Choices New York (EOLCNY) since 2002. EOLCNY seeks to expand choice at the end of life and improve the quality of care for New Yorkers, ensuring that their values and wishes are respected. An expert on advance care planning, patient rights, palliative care and end-of-life issues, Mr. Leven has played a key leadership role in having legislation introduced and enacted in New York to improve pain management, palliative care and end-of-life care. Included, among others laws enacted, are the Palliative Care Education and Training Act and the Palliative Care Information Act (PCIA).  The PCIA requires that terminally ill patients be offered information and counseling on their palliative care and end-of-life options. Continued legislative advocacy efforts include bills to ensure that patients have their end-of-life wishes respected, that doctors have required training in pain, palliative care and end-of-life care and that terminally ill patients have a right to aid in dying. A lawsuit and legislation to establish aid in dying in NY, both initiated by EOLCNY, are pending.

Mr. Leven is the author of articles published in the Health Law Journal of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) on the connection between the Palliative Care Information Act and the Family Health Care Decisions Act, which was also published in the Elder and Special Needs Law Journal of the NYSBA and an article in the New York Law School Law Review on health justice. Mr. Leven also has articles (co-authored) published on the Family Health Care Decisions Act and the Palliative Care Information Act in the Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care and in Elder Law Attorney of the NYSBA.

Mr. Leven lectures frequently to diverse professional groups and citizens on health care decision making and end-of-life issues. He has been a regular guest lecturer at Fordham Graduate School of Social Service and College of New Rochelle School of Nursing. He has spoken at over 60 senior centers and retirement communities and at numerous meetings and conferences. In recent years he was a plenary speaker at Consortium of New York Geriatric Education Centers Conferences (twice), Jewish Home Life Care Annual Palliative Care Conference,  Westchester/NYS Southern Region, Collaborative for Palliative Care Conferences (5 times) and Westchester Medical Group at West Harrison and Rye. He has also presented at the New York Academy of Medicine, State Society on Aging of New York Conferences (four times), the Hospice and Palliative Care of New York State Annual Meeting and at several medical centers, including Albany Medical Center, Lawrence Hospital, Mt. Sinai Medical School, North Shore LIJ, and Upstate Medical University. He has lectured at New York State Bar Association, New York City Bar Association, New York County Lawyers Association and Suffolk County Lawyers Association programs.  He has also lectured at all of the New York City area law schools as well as at Yale, Syracuse and Albany law schools. As a strong advocate for aid in dying Mr. Leven has debated on the topic at  Brooklyn, Columbia, Hofstra,  Rutgers, St. John’s and Yale Law Schools,  at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture and Mt. Sinai Medical School.

A graduate of the University of Rochester and Syracuse University College of Law, Mr. Leven is a recipient of numerous awards. They include the Public Interest Law Award of the New York State Bar Association, Committee on Public Interest Law and the Westchester Civil Liberties Union, Civil Liberties Award. In 1999 he was the Distinguished Public Interest Lawyer in Residence at Touro Law School.

Jane Landry-Reyes has been a public interest attorney representing indigent clients with housing issues, for approximately 23 years. Currently, she is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Elder Unit at Legal Services New York City - Brooklyn Legal Services (“LSNYC - BLS”) where she has practiced for the past 12 years.  Her work is primarily in eviction prevention and low income housing subsidy preservation.  She litigates in NYC Housing Court, State Supreme and occasionally in Federal Court as well as at administrative hearings to protect her low income clients’ benefits and entitlements.   She has also joined forces with the Workers’ Rights Unit at LSNYC-BLS to provide representation to building workers who have been improperly paid wages and who face eviction from employment related housing; many of these clients are senior citizens.  Ms. Landry-Reyes also partners with community organizations to provide group representation, training and advocacy to tenants’ groups seeking to improve conditions and access to justice in the courts.

Before joining Legal Services, Ms. Landry-Reyes worked for approximately eight years, as a Clinical Instructor/Senior Staff Attorney with the Elder law Legal Clinic at Brooklyn Law School that provided free legal services to senior citizens in a variety of civil legal matters.  She is a 1993 graduate of Brooklyn Law School and proud Edward V. Sparer Alum and co-founder of the student based Brooklyn Law Students for the Public Interest (“BLSPI”).   Currently, Ms. Landry-Reyes is an adjunct clinical instructor co-teaching the “HELP” Clinic (Helping Elders Through Litigation and Policy).  She mentors and supervises 5 Brooklyn Law School students each semester who gain invaluable practical skills while also providing critically needed representation for indigent senior citizens.

Jeffrey G. Abrandt is a partner at Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin, LLP.  He practices primarily in the areas of Elder Law, Health Law, Trusts and Estates, Guardianships, and with the rights of the elderly and disabled. For the first third of his career, Jeffrey was a public interest attorney focusing on government benefits and the legal problems of the elderly and disabled.  After close to a decade, as Attorney-In-Charge of the Legal Aid Society’s Brooklyn Office for the Aging, he left public interest law. Currently Jeffrey is also an Adjunct Professor at Hoftra University School of Law where he teaches Elder Law.  Since 2002, he has served as Co-Chair of the Elder Law Institute, an annual program for attorneys practicing elder law by the Practicing Law Institute.  Jeffrey has published numerous articles in the Practicing Law Institute’s Course Handbook Series as well as the Brookdale Institute’s Entitlement and Advocacy Training pamphlet series.  He is a frequent lecturer in Elder Law for various groups including the New York State Bar Associations, as well as other local bar associations.  He is a perennial “Best Lawyers” in New York and has also been named a “Super Lawyer.”

Nancy Burner, Esq. is the founder and managing partner of Nancy Burner & Associates, PC established in 1995.

Nancy earned her undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University in 1985 where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.  She graduated from Hofstra University School of Law in 1988 with distinction, and placed eighth in her class of 278. 

Nancy holds the designation of a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), awarded by the National Elder Law Foundation as accredited by the American Bar Association. She is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Elder Law and Trust and Estates sections of the New York State Bar Association, the Suffolk County Bar Association, the Suffolk County Woman’s Bar Association and the Real Property, Trust and Probate Committee of the American Bar Association.  Nancy is a past president of the Suffolk County Woman’s Bar Association and a past co-chair of the Suffolk County Elder Law Committee. She is a contributing editor to the New York State Bar Association and co-authored a chapter in the treatise entitled “Guardianship Practice in New York State.”

Nancy was recently re-appointed by the New York State Court of Appeals to serve a fifth term as one of only seven Trustees of the New York Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection.  The Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection is a State administered Agency which was created in 1981 to protect law clients from the misuse of their money by dishonest attorneys and to promote public confidence in the administration of justice in New York State.

In 2007, Minneapolis-based Law & Politics publishers of Super Lawyers magazines announced that Nancy had been named to the 2007 edition of New York Metro Super Lawyers for the first time.  Super Lawyers, published in the New York Times Magazine  is a listing of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in their respective fields. Each year, no more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.

Nancy has been named a Super Lawyer each year since 2009 and most recently in 2015 has been named once again a Super Lawyer for her seventh consecutive year and eighth year overall.

Nancy sits on the Legal Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s disease Resource Center of Long Island, serving individuals and the families of individuals who have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. She was named as the Chairperson for this committee in late 2012 and now serves as a board member. Beginning in the fall of 2011, Nancy has also applied her expertise and knowledge in Elder Law as an adjunct professor at Hofstra Law School and Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.

Nancy is admitted to practice law in the State of New York.  She lives in Miller Place with her family.

Mr. Chu has been involved with the area of Elder Law since 1990.  Before joining the firm he was the Senior Staff Attorney for the Brookdale Center on Aging of Hunter College from 1990 to 1999, where he specialized in Medicaid eligibility and government entitlements. From 1995 to 1999, Mr. Chu was also the attorney in charge of the Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program at Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. ; known for his speaking skills, Mr. Chu has been an invited speaker/presenter at the New York State Bar Association Elder Law Programs in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011.


  • RUTGERS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL Of Law -Camden : J.D.1987 with an Honors Degree in International Law  {Law Review Staff Member} 

Mr. Chu has been an Adjunct Professor at CUNY Law School and Long Island University, where he taught Elder Law related courses.  He is a respected lecturer on government entitlements and presents a monthly lecture series on applying for Medicaid home care at the Alzheimer's Association of New York City.  Mr. Chu is a regular speaker for the National Constitution Center Audio Conference Series, which provides continuing legal education to attorneys nationally.  Mr. Chu is the current Co-Chair of the New York City Citywide Medicaid Advisory Council . He is the author and editor of  the chapter "Medicaid for the Elderly, Blind and Disabled", found in The New York Elder Law Handbook published annually by the Practicing Law Institute of New York, where he is also a member of their faculty and current Co-Chair of their Annual Elder Law Institute.    Mr. Chu is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the New York State Bar Association Elder Law Section. He is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey (inactive) and Washington, D.C. (inactive).  Before entering the field of Elder Law, Mr. Chu was involved in the area of White Collar Criminal defense work in Washington, D.C.

Deborah A. Scalise is a partner in the firm SCALISE & HAMILTON LLP in Scarsdale, New York which focuses its practice on the representation of professionals (primarily lawyers and judges) in professional responsibility and ethics matters and white-collar criminal matters.  Since 2002, Ms. Scalise has appeared before the Character and Fitness Committees, the New York State and Federal Grievance Committees and the Judicial Conduct Commission. 

Prior to 2002, Ms. Scalise was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in Charge of Public Advocacy for the Westchester Region for the NY Attorney General’s Office and handled cases involving consumer frauds, civil rights and public integrity matters. Before that, she was Deputy Chief Counsel to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department where she investigated and litigated complex disciplinary matters. She began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, where she handled economic crimes and arson cases.  Ms. Scalise earned a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School, a Bachelor of Arts Degree from John Jay College, CUNY and a Master of Arts Degree in Forensic Psychology from the John Jay College Graduate School, CUNY. 

In 2016, Ms. Scalise was appointed to the NYS Office of Court Administration CLE Board by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. She also testified before the 2015 OCA State Commission on Professional Discipline with regard to attorney mental health issues. Her authored materials, entitled “Ethically Dealing with Clients, Witnesses and Attorneys with Diminished Capacity,” were annexed to the Commission’s Report that issued recommendations as to the unification of the New York State disciplinary process. 

Ms. Scalise is a contributing author in “The Dementia Crisis” written by Robert Abrams, Esq., Editor, NYS Bar Association Journal, January 2017. She contributed a chapter to Oxford University Press’s The New York Rules of Professional Conduct: Opinions, Commentary, and Case Law, a treatise discussing ethical conduct, and frequently contributes articles related to professional responsibility and ethics issues for among others, the NYSBA Journal and State Bar News; the WBASNY and WWBA Newsletters; the WCBA Bar Journal; and the NYSTLA Bill of Particulars. 

In 2015 Ms. Scalise and her partner, Sarah Jo Hamilton were honored by NYCBA Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) for their continued support and contributions to LAP. In 2014, the firm received the WWBA’s Family Friendly Award.  In 2012, Ms. Scalise received WBASNY’s Marilyn Menge Award and in 2009 she received the Westchester County Above the Bar Pace Setter Award.  She was the subject of a profile in the ABA's Student Lawyer Magazine in its February 2005 issue.