Katherine C. Pearson

Professor of Law and Arthur L. and Sandra S. Piccone Faculty Scholar

For close to twenty years, Katherine C. Pearson’s academic focus in research and writing has been on laws and policies connected to aging.

Professor Pearson served for more than ten years as director of Penn State’s Elder Protection Clinic (2001 to 2012), where students provided pro bono representation of older adults on cutting edge legal issues. Today, Professor Pearson continues to use that important student-involved, practical experience to inform her writing and research. She is the author of articles and book chapters on long-term care, financing issues, and filial obligations, and is the co-author of The Law of Financial Abuse and Exploitation (Bisel 2011) — a book about protection of vulnerable persons from financial exploitation.

Professor Pearson has served in positions on national and state organizations for attorneys specializing in elder law, including the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and she has chaired the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Elder Law Section.

A former Fulbright Scholar (U.K., Queens University Belfast, 2010), Professor Pearson’s work includes international, comparative analysis of laws, and policies affecting older persons, including work as an international research consultant in the U.K. and Northern Ireland to promote better systems for safeguarding and adult social care. Professor Pearson’s international work took her to Cuba with a group of students for an embedded course on Introduction to Cuban Legal Systems in January 2016.

During 2013 and 2014, Professor Pearson served as a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Elder Law Task Force at the invitation of Justice Debra Todd to examine issues of guardianships, abuse and neglect, and access to justice for older Pennsylvanians. The Task Force issued a report with 125 recommendations addressing guardianship and fiduciary duty issues in November 2014.


Katherine C. Pearson

Email  kcp4@psu.edu 

Phone  717-240-5219


Prof. Pearson’s News and Activity

Prof. Pearson in the Media

Faculty Impact

Elder Law Prof Blog

Personal Webpage

J.D., University of Miami

B.A., University of Arizona

Research Interests
Elder Law

Current Courses
Conflict of Laws


Elder Law

Nonprofit Organizations

Wills, Trusts & Estates

Pearson’s Publications

Books and Book Chapters

The Law of Financial Abuse and Exploitation (with Trisha Cowart) (Bisel Publishing, 2011)

“Filial Support Obligations in Pennsylvania Adult Children, Parents, and Spouses,” in Elder Law in Pennsylvania (Jeffrey Marshall, ed., 3d ed. 2011)


Professor Katherine Pearson’s Presentation on “Extreme Home Takeovers: Dealing with those ‘Concerned’ Relatives” for Oklahoma Legal Aid Services’ Annual Symposium on Elder Abuse, June 22, 2020

Can Guardians for Adult Patients Assist Health Care Professional to Provide Coordinated Care?” — Penn State Cancer Institute poster presentation by Mimi Miller, J.D. Candidate 2021, under guidance of Dr. Eugene Lengerich and Professor Katherine Pearson, August 6, 2019

The Stage is Well Set — The Pennsylvania Legislature’s Important Role in Guardianship Reform, September 19, 2018

Review of Legislation and Policy Guidance Relations to Adult Social Care (in Northern Ireland and Internationally, including the US),” commissioned by Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland (June 2015) (with co-authors and researchers, on team headed by Dr. Joe Duffy, Principal Investigator, Queen’s University Belfast).

Report and Recommendations of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Elder Law Task Force,” (November 2014), as a member of task force, during its 18-month investigation, chaired by The Honorable Debra Todd, Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

A Review of the Adult Safeguarding Framework in Northern Ireland, the UK, Ireland and Internationally,” commissioned by Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland (January 2014) (with co-authors and researchers on team headed by Dr. Janet Carter Anand, Principal Investigator, Queen’s University Belfast)

Selected Journal Articles

Katherine Norton & Katherine Pearson, “Pennsylvania Law Schools Form Consortium in Support of Justice for Older Adults in Pennsylvania,” The Pennsylvania Lawyer (May-June 2023).

Douglas R. Roeder & Katherine C. Pearson, “Putting the Charity Back in Purely Public Charities,” 93 PA B. Quarterly 101 (No. 3, July 2022).

Ongoing Challenges for Pennsylvania Continuing Care and Life Plan Communities,” (with Prof. David Sarcone), PA B. Quarterly, Vol. 90, No. 1., pp 1-15 (January 2019) (with Prof. David Sarcone)

The Perils of Serving As a Financial Caregiver,” Bifocal: Journal of ABA Commission on Law and Aging, Vo. 39, No. 3 (2018)

“Implications of Divergences in Adult Protection Legislation,” UK Journal of Adult Protection (with Lorna Montgomery, et al.), Vol. 18, No. 3 (2016), pp 1-11.

Capacity, Conflict, and Change: Elder Law and Estate Planning Themes in an Aging World,” 117 Penn State L. Rev. 979 (2013)(Introduction to Symposium Issue)

Filial Support Laws in the Modern Era: Domestic and International Comparison of Enforcement Practices for Laws Requiring Adult Children to Support Indigent Parents,” 20 Elder Law Journal 269 (2013)

“Older People and Legal Advice: The Need for Joined Up and Creative Approaches,” UK Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law (with J. Duffy & S. Basu), Vol. 34, No. 1. (2012), pp 31-47

Will Continuing Care Retirement Communities Continue?” 82 Pa. B. Quarterly 69 (2011) (with Joshua Wilkins) (Symposium on the Future of Elder Law)

The Lesson of the Irish Family Pub: The Elder Law Clinic Path to a More Thoughtful Practice,” 40 Stetson L. Rev237 (Fall 2010, Elder Law Symposium Issue)

The Responsible Thing to do About “Responsible Party” Provisions in Nursing Home Agreements: A Proposal for Change on Three Fronts, 37 U. Mich. J. Law Reform 757 (No. 3, 2004)

Pearson’s Relevant Activities

Relevant Activities

Project Lead on a $500,000 Penn State Dickinson Law Strategic Plan Grant entitled The Pennsylvania Adult-Fiduciary Project: Developing Statewide Online Education in Support of Aging and Vulnerable Adults

Government Activities

The Responsible Thing to Do about Responsible Party Provisions in Nursing Home Agreement cited by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Issue Spotlight Report