University of Pittsburgh

Lawrence Frolik

Professor Lawrence Frolik

A national leader in Elder Law, Pitt Law Professor Frolik Presents on Multiple Topics at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association. Read the full story here.

Pitt Law Professor Lawrence Frolik Presents Papers at 36th Law and Society Association Annual Meeting

In June, Pitt Law Professor Lawrence Frolik, a leading national expert on legal issues facing older Americans, attended the 36th Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association in Boston. He presented a paper, “Reforming the 401(k) – Reducing the Management Burden for Retirees” at the session, Constructing Age: How Legal Structures Shape the Aging Experience, which he chaired.  He also presented a talk titled “Rethinking the Theories of Guardianship Decision Marking” in the session, Beyond Elder Law.

One of the founders of the newly formed Aging, Law and Society Collaborative Research Network, Frolik’s 401(k) presentation addressed concerns with the decline in retiree income security due to private employers in the last 20 years moving away from defined benefit plans in favor of defined contribution plans. The shift has been spurred by employers desiring to offset the risk and management burden associated with defined benefit plans, which have traditionally guaranteed a pension for retired employees and their spouses. The result is the lack of a guaranteed pension as well as investment risk being transferred to retirees.

The presentation offered a practical call to action to avert a future crisis of elderly poverty.

“The government needs to pursue policies that encourage retirees to convert some or all of the value or lump sum of their 401(k) account into lifetime annuities,” Frolik said. “This would give them the assurance of not outliving their retirement savings and would relieve them of the burden of investing and managing that lump sum during the long years of their retirement.”

“Annuities are particularly value as the retiree ages and suffers declines in mental capacity or worst, suffers from dementia,” he said.

It might be hard at first to imagine young Pitt Law students desiring in large numbers to pursue elder law as a career. However, as life expectancy increases and elder populations grow, so does the need for accessible legal representation for the elderly. Frolik has built a scholarly career dedicated to the instruction, research and development of elder law. He has contributed toward and published widely on the topic of Elder Law, including such notable compilations as Advising the Elderly or Disabled Client, Aging and the Law: An Interdisciplinary Reader, Everyday Law for Seniors, and ERISA Litigation (4th edition).

Young law students who decide to pursue elder law often do so because of their experiences with older family members, Frolik said.

“Life experience is the best instructor,” he said.

The Law and Society Association Annual Meeting brings together scholars from all over the world representing legal research across a breadth of academic fields. The Boston 2013 meeting was one of the largest with 1,800 scheduled paper presentations, according to the LSA website. Frolik said he expects to attend next year’s LSA meeting, which will take place in Minneapolis.

More information about the Law and Society Association can be viewed at their website at

Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC