HELEN COHN NEEDHAM is a nationally known elder law and special needs attorney. She is one of the first practitioners of elder law in the United States, beginning her work in this field in 1984. In 1987, she became active in the newly formed National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). As part of its leadership, she played a principal role in the development and definition of the new specialty. She also led the effort to develop a national program to identify, test and certify attorneys as specialists in elder law. That program was accredited by the American Bar Association. In 1995, she became one of the first sixty-eight attorneys nationwide to be certified. She was re-certified in 2000, 2005 and 2010. Helen retired at the end of 2015 and is now serving as Of Counsel to the firm.
In 1994, Helen received the first NAELA President’s Recognition Award for her consistent outstanding contributions. In 1995, she was elected a NAELA Fellow, recognized by her peers as an “exceptional lawyer and leader.”
Helen was named a Virginia Super Lawyer in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 & 2013. This recognition is given to only 5% of the attorneys in Virginia. She is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, and is an accredited attorney for the preparation, presentation and prosecution of claims for Veteran’s Benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is a qualified Guardian Ad litem (GAL) for incapacitated persons for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In 2012 and 2013 Helen was named by Northern Virginia Magazine as a “Top Lawyer” in the area of Elder law. In 2012 Helen was named one of Virginia’s “Top Rated Lawyers” in the area of Trusts and Estates and in 2013 and 2014 was listed in “Best Lawyers.”
Helen has been practicing law continually since 1968. She began to practice estate, disability, and special needs planning for traditional and non-traditional families, with an emphasis on the aged and the disabled upon moving her practice to Virginia in 1982. Her work includes drafting trusts (including special needs trusts), wills, powers of attorney and advance medical directives. She also helps clients plan to obtain government benefits, assists individuals in getting good care in nursing homes, petitions to have guardians and conservators appointed for incapacitated persons and acts as or assists trustees, agents, executors, conservators and guardians.
Helen is married and has two adult children. Her first grandchild was born on July 12, 2010 and her second grandchild was born in 2012. She is absolutely smitten. Helen retired in 2017.