Published June 26, 2023
After a decade of guardianship experience, Loliger launches a new initiative to help families
By Catherine Donnelly
Brad Loliger, JD/MSW ’13, received the 2023 Louis H. Swartz Memorial Award for his efforts on behalf of vulnerable individuals and for identifying ways to help family members care for their loved ones. Given by the UB School of Social Work, the award recognizes graduates of the JD/MSW program who personalize the ideals of social justice heralded by Dr. Swartz through their work and advocacy.
“I am incredibly honored to receive this award. I know his efforts to connect law and social justice were innovative during his career," says Loliger. “I am proud to exemplify his goals by being an attorney who uses my social work skills on a daily basis to help my clients.”
Loliger works as a staff attorney at the Center for Elder Law & Justice (CELJ), where he helps to manage 100+ clients who are under the guidance of a New York State Article 81 guardianship.
He started at the CELJ during a School of Social Work internship over a decade ago, and it has evolved into his life's work. While still a student, he said: “Professionals with a dual social work/law degree possess an interesting blend of two very different schools of thought. You can either be an attorney with a social worker mindset, or you can be a social worker with that clout and understanding of legal issues that are so important in terms of the many areas law and social work intersect.”
At the CELJ, Loliger has found a way to merge these roles. Although he acknowledges that he is an attorney first and foremost, he has an eye to view the full picture to support his clients and their families. In his role, he supports individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who are unable to care for themselves and who have no one else to care for them.
At this point in his career, he says: “I am focused daily on the people who have fallen through the cracks, who have no other place to turn. If the court finds a person to be incapacitated based upon their functional abilities, the court often appoints our agency to ‘step into the shoes’ of that person.” The CELJ then becomes responsible for making sure all their needs are met.
His team recently developed the Family Guardian Support Project to train family members and other individuals to meet their obligations if they are appointed as a guardian for someone.
Loliger strongly encourages everyone to plan for aging and talk with their loved ones about what to do in a crisis. He says this goes beyond simple wills, health care proxies and power of attorney documents. “It is critically important that all people complete those documents to avoid the need for a guardian and court proceedings,” he continues, “but everyone also needs to have the difficult conversations about finances and end-of-life medical care, including resuscitation, intubation and artificial nutrition and hydration.”
When not working, you can find Loliger performing with the Aurora Players in East Aurora, acting as chair of the church council at Christ United Methodist Church in Snyder, New York, and serving on the board of Literacy New York.