Legal eagle provides targeted advice for older adults
Heather Campbell, Artsci'06, focuses on elder law at her BC practice.
For most of Heather Campbell’s law career, Canada’s steadily aging population and the particular legal issues that go hand-in-hand with aging have been her primary focus. In addition to opening her own law firm, Vantage Point Law, to specifically serve this growing aging demographic, Heather, Artsci’06, also represents older adults at the Elder Law Clinic, an independent division of the B.C. Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support.
The 2006 politics and sociology major, who went on to study for her law degree at the University of Saskatchewan, credits her Queen’s studies and her extracurricular involvement in groups like Queen’s Model Parliament and Model UN for helping her learn to see issues through multiple lenses and from different angles, a skill that she regularly draws on in her work as a lawyer.
“The ability to see matters as multi-dimensional and multi-layered is especially important in the field of elder law because too often older adults are facing various forms of abuse, yet it’s only the financial abuse that is visible,” says Heather, who notes that financial abuse of older adults is the most recurrent issue she sees in her own practice.
Her exposure to elder law started after law school, when she articled at the Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL), an independent division of the British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI). At the CCEL, she carried out research on elder abuse and neglect law in Canada, provided financial literacy information to older adults at community “legal check-ups” and attended various multi-disciplinary conferences on elder abuse.
The experience in elder law Heather gained during her articling year and has since built upon, running her own legal practice, has taught her that prevention is key in cases of financial abuse. She advises her older clients to take steps to protect themselves by investigating and understanding what the implications of any financial decisions might be, both for themselves and for their family members.
“Older adults may not wish to discuss other hidden abuses,” she says. “However, being aware of their possibility helps me ask clients the right questions and provide the appropriate information, resources and referrals if they one day decide to seek help for those matters.”