|Simon Lazarus , National Senior Citizens Law Ctr|
National Senior Citizens Law Ctr
In his late 60s, traveling, reading and tennis aren’t enough for Simon Lazarus.
“I like to go to the theater and do other things, but I do have one serious focus. I feel that’s better than puttering around the house,” he says.
For a good portion of each week, he works as a public policy counsel for the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) in Washington, D.C., on legal and public issues of importance to older Americans. He is motivated by a desire to counteract what he says are “the evident efforts of somewhat conservative justices to find back-door ways of undermining progressive federal laws” that protect the rights of older citizens.
Lazarus began planning his encore career in his early 60s, when he was working in a private law firm. “I liked my law practice, but I was ready for a do-good phase,” he says. He began working for the NSCLC a few hours a week and left his position as senior counsel with the firm Sidley Austin LLP in late 2006.
“I wanted to be sure that when I reached 70, I had a full-blown new career. I knew if I didn’t start in my early 60s, it would be a lot more difficult to switch,” he explains.
He is not a volunteer because, he says, “I think that people who are not paid are not taken seriously.” He still has one private client on the side.
Lazarus’ career as associate director of President Jimmy Carter’s White House Domestic Policy Staff and subsequent work as a public policy lawyer prepared him well for his current role. His work revolves around the enforceability of federal laws such as Medicaid, Medicare, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
“It is important for older Americans to ensure the accountability of these very important programs,” he notes.
While Lazarus doesn’t claim direct credit for legal victories, he is gratified that the U.S. Supreme Court backed away from some radical attempts in the 1990s to gut progressive federal statutes. And he believes the issues some senators raised during hearings on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005 were related to NSCLC advocacy.
“I personally have found it very rewarding to try not to be a dilettante with the second career but to find something I’m really interested in that provides a real opportunity for work, something I get into really deeply and treat like a real job,” Lazarus says.
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