A family-based organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

The Evolving Legal Landscape in New York State:  Guardianship & Alternatives

Thursday, November 3, 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

View the session here.

Notes from session:

The Arc NY Guardianship Alternatives PowerPoint here.

Advance Health Care Directives here.

Guardianship a Civil Rights Perspective here.


  • Sheila E. Shea, Esq., Director, Mental Hygiene Legal Service, Third Department
  • Julie B. Friedman, Esq., Managing Attorney - Albany Regional Office, Mental Hygiene Legal Service, Third Department

This seminar will introduce participants to the different types of guardianships available guardianship statutes currently codified in New York and alternatives to guardianship including health care proxies, surrogate and supported decision making.   Led by experienced attorneys with the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, it is anticipated that the seminar will provide basic legal foundations with case scenarios to enforce active learning.  Audience participation is encouraged.

About Sheila E. Shea, Esq.:


Sheila E. Shea, Esq. is a graduate of the University of Vermont and the Albany Law School of Union University. She joined the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, Third Judicial Department in 1987 and in 2007 was appointed as its director. She was the recipient of The Arc New York 2013 Hodgson/Jacobs Law Award presented by Organization for demonstrating outstanding commitment and dedication to improving the lives of people who have intellectual and other developmental disabilities and the 2014 Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York Public Service Award. Sheila Shea is admitted to practice law in the State of New York.

About Julie B. Friedman, Esq.:


Julie B. Friedman, Esq. is Julie Friedman is 1993 graduate of Cornell Law School and a 1988 graduate of Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Since 1999 Ms. Friedman has been an attorney with the Albany Regional Office of Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS), a division of the New York State Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department and is currently the Managing Attorney for the Albany Regional and Kingston offices. MHLS provides legal representation for individuals who receive or are in need of services for mental illness or developmental disabilities, including individuals in psychiatric hospitals, community residences and other facilities serving the disabled.  MHLS also frequently serves as appointed counsel or court evaluator in adult guardianship matters pursuant to MHL '81 and as counsel or guardian ad litem in guardianships pursuant to SCPA '17a. Ms. Friedman has been serving as the managing attorney of the office since September 2020.

Prior to joining MHLS, Ms. Friedman was a staff attorney at the Albany Law School's Disabilities Law Clinic, primarily focusing on special education law.  Ms. Friedman also represented adults and children with mental and physical disabilities in a variety of civil matters as a protection and advocacy attorney with Legal Aid in Binghamton, New York from 1993 - 1997.

Ms. Friedman is a frequent speaker on legal issues relating to the work of MHLS and has been invited to speak by state and local bar associations, hospitals, and agencies and organizations providing services to individuals with disabilities.