Mark Friedman awarded NJSBA Distinguished Legislative Service Award

Posted on: January 23rd, 2023 by Mark R. Friedman

I’m pleased to say that the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) awarded me the Distinguished Legislative Service Award for my work with the NJSBA’s government affairs team on guardianships over the past few years.

This all started because there have been several news stories across various media, as well as a pretty entertaining Netflix movie, about guardian abuse – guardians exploiting incapacitated persons, people trapped in abusive guardianships, insufficient oversight from the courts, etc.

Legislators across the country, including New Jersey, have responded to that by putting forth bills to put further constraints on guardians and the guardianship process.  However, sometimes these well-intentioned efforts would have unworkable practical effects in the real world.  I’ve been working with the NJSBA to provide feedback on these proposals, including testifying before the New Jersey State Assembly in 2021 (which was a thrill!).

Generally, most guardians I work with are parents trying to do the best for their children with developmental disabilities, or other family members making the best of a very difficult situation.  The professional guardians I’ve worked with have been honest, scrupulous and diligent.  I haven’t seen anything in real life like what’s portrayed in these movies and news stories, and I think we generally have strong safeguards in New Jersey to protect persons under guardianship, including a court-appointed attorney who advocates for the person during the guardianship process, and a requirement for annual reporting once a guardian is appointed.

In any event, I was surprised and honored to receive the NJSBA’s Distinguished Legislative Service Award for my work on guardianships over the last few years, and to join a truly distinguished group of attorneys who have received this award, including my father Lawrence Friedman for his work on special needs trusts.  I enjoy working on these legislative issues and will continue doing so with or without an award, but it’s always nice to receive recognition.

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Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.