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The Edgar and Margaret Sandman Fellowship Program, established in 1993, provides one or two Albany Law School students annually with an opportunity to devote a full year of study to a specific area of aging law and policy. The Sandman Fellowship is a prestigious award that often significantly advances the careers of its recipients.
Each year the Fellows conduct research on a topic of current importance in aging or health law, host a roundtable with key professionals for their input on the issue and publish a report aimed at the desks of major law and policy makers around the country.
The challenges created by the United States' shifting demographics and many new laws focusing on older adults in recent years have created numerous topics that have proved to be fruitful areas of examination for the Sandman Fellows. The reports issued each year by the Sandman Fellows and conferences arranged by the Fellows have served as catalysts for change in New York state and around the country and have had lasting effects.
The first Sandman Fellowship report published in 1993, "Abuse and the Durable Power of Attorney: Options for Reform," was reported widely in the media, including on National Public Radio and in the
New York Times and numerous aging-related publications. In response, the New York State Legislature amended its power of attorney statute - the general obligations law - in 1996, significantly changing the law.
In 2007, the Wisconsin Supreme Court described the research in the 1993 Report in a case of first impression regarding the fiduciary obligations of an agent acting under a power of attorney (See Russ ex rel. Schwartz v. Russ, 302 Wis.2d 264, 734 N.W.2d 874 (2007)).
Most recently, on Jan. 27, 2009, former New York Governor David Paterson signed chapter 644 of the Laws of 2008, amending the general obligations law once again to provide significant reforms to the use of powers of attorney in New York that were foreshadowed by the 1993 Fellowship Report. The work done through the Sandman Fellowship paved the way for this significant change.
The inaugural Fellowship program also included two highly-acclaimed conferences which were attended by policymakers, attorneys, social service and health care providers, advocates for the elderly, and older persons and their caregivers: "Preserving Autonomy in Health Care and Financial Decision-making" (October 2003) and "Future Financial Well Being of the Elderly" (November 2003). The Sandman Fellows helped to organize both programs and presented the results of their study on abuses of the durable power of attorney at the first conference.
here for a complete list of Sandman Fellows and topics.