For More Than Two Decades, Attorney Carol Bertsch Has Been a Voice for the Elderly and Disabled.
By Antonio Gutierrez
Photography by David Teran
Although Carol Bertsch originally intended to practice civil rights law, the long-time San Antonio attorney found her passion advocating for the elderly and disabled.
“I did employee law for a while, and when I left that, I recognized that the elderly are not always treated with dignity and respect the way that others are because of ageism perhaps,” Bertsch said. “I felt like this is a population I could serve without litigation because I had become burned out with litigation. The elderly and people with disabilities are often marginalized in our community, so I try to be a voice for them.”
The Seminole, Texas native, who came to San Antonio in 1983 to attend Our Lady of the Lake University, is celebrating a milestone this year. Her firm, The Law Offices of Carol Bertsch, has been in business for 25 years with a focus on elder and disability law. She and her staff recently moved to a new, 3,900-square-foot building, all with their clients’ safety in mind as the community continues to grapple with the pandemic.
“Because of Covid, we wanted more space, so we could meet our clients in person and give each other breathing room,” Bertsch said.
It was during her time at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, when she was pondering pursuing her initial goal as a civil rights attorney, that she realized the impact she could have on society.
“I saw law as a tool for change and to truly make the world better,” Bertsch said. “So I was torn when I went to law school between getting a jurisprudence degree or a master’s in social work. I decided with a JD I could make a bigger difference in the world. There’s so much that needs remedying, and I know I can help.”
Bertsch, meanwhile, also assists individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and their loved ones. “Folks with dementia still need advocacy,” she said. “I work with families in which one spouse will need long-term care. So we discuss how we can preserve assets for the other spouse to make sure he or she has funds to support themselves.”
Her dedication to the elderly is such that Bertsch has been a volunteer with the Adult Protective Services Community Board for the past four-and-a-half years. “Our goal is to support the staff any way we can and bring awareness about what Adult Protective Services does to help the community,” she said. “We also educate elders and people with disabilities about how they can protect themselves and be aware of scams.”
She also sympathizes with those who are in the trenches working in the adult protective industry. “What resonates with me about the board is trying to support the field workers because there’s a lot of turnover and burnout,” Bertsch explained. “They have a really hard job.”
Her altruistic spirit has led her to be a mentor through the THRU Project to young adults who need guidance as they prepare to embark on a new life on their own.
“The THRU Project is a great organization. They help individuals who have aged out of the foster care system,” she said. “The state does a better job now than they used to for this age group. You’re 18 and don’t know a lot about going out into the world. In many cases, foster youth have no support network to help them once they reach adulthood. I really enjoy being a mentor as a way to give back for all I have been given.”
Bertsch also has a few words of advice for young law students and encourages them to pursue elder law, just as she did. “I advocate for elder law for everyone because I think it’s great,” she said. “My advice is to take heart in law school and not be intimidated like I was by my professors and other students. Hold your head high.”
Upon reflection of her 25 years in private practice, Bertsch shares that it’s those whom she serves that make her look forward to work each day. “I have the best clients,” she said. “You have to be suited to the population you serve. For instance, I’m not suited to the population who seeks the services of a divorce lawyer. Some people might perceive my clients as being boring, time-consuming, or curmudgeonly. But they bring me joy.”
“The work I do is gratifying,” she added. “I am one of the most blessed people in the world to be able to do what I do. I have a job that is fulfilling and rewarding, and I get to work with people who are passionate about what we do.”
For more information, assistingseniors.com or call (210) 892-4555.