By Mark Reutter Older law, an area of law that has expanded rapidly as Americans live longer and face difficult health-care and financial questions, will be the subject of a scholarly journal, the first of its kind, to be published by the UI College of Law. The Elder Law Journal, whose inaugural issue will appear Sept. 15, comes just as the details of President Bill Clinton's health-care proposal is expected to be presented to Washington and the nation. "Medical and nursing-home care for senior citizens is one of many areas where elder law directly affects society," said Ellen Greaves, the journal's editor in chief who graduated from the College of Law in May. "The graying of America is a demographic phenomenon with enormous social and economic consequences." Americans 65 years and older are not only the fastest growing population group - their numbers are expected to increase by 24 percent between now and the year 2000 - but "they and their families have legal concerns that are different from other populations," Greaves said. The journal, to be published twice a year, seeks to engage these concerns directly and serve as a forum for the scholarly exchange of ideas ranging from Medicaid eligibility for the middle class to the ethical issues that arise from the right-to-die movement. Other articles, aimed primarily at practicing lawyers, will cover such nuts-and-bolts items as estate planning, wills, health insurance and consumer protection. In the first issue, Michael Floyd, a professor at Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Birmingham, Ala., concludes that continuing-care retirement communities, despite instances of abuse and poor business practices, generally offer senior citizens a good package of housing and nursing care and should not be subject to overzealous government regulation. Also in the inaugural issue: * Celeste Hammond, a professor at John Marshall Law School, Chicago, finds that a "reverse mortgage," a financing method that lets homeowners turn home equity into monthly income, holds great promise in helping senior citizens stay in their homes and reduce their dependence on public welfare. * Colleen Manning, a recent graduate of the UI College of Law, reports that outpatient care of victims of Alzheimer's disease "is a real and possible alternative" to costly early institutionalization. * Lawrence Frolik, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, traces the rise of elder-law scholarship as a reaction in part to the "narrow formalism" of traditional legal studies. The new journal reflects the commitment made by the university to serve this sector of society, according to Richard L. Kaplan, a UI law professor. While some law schools have seminars on elder law, Kaplan developed one of the first formal courses to deal with the topic in 1991. The impetus for the Elder Law Journal also began in 1991 when students were invited to put together proposals for a second UI law journal to supplement the venerable UI Law Review. A proposal by Greaves and three other students for a scholarly journal on the elderly was selected by the faculty. In recent months the student staff has been "enormously busy" soliciting and reviewing articles from law professors and other experts for the debut issue, third-year law student Linda Hoffman, the managing editor, said. "We're looking for material that's fresh and substantial," Hoffman said of articles for the coming issues. "We're also waiting for the health-care proposals of the Clinton Administration. They're going to have an enormous impact on the elderly. New issues will come up and we'll want to write about them."