Rollins College (B.A., Philosophy, 1990)
University of Florida, Fredric G. Levin College of Law (LL.M., Taxation, 1998)
The Florida State University College of Law (J.D., with high honors, 1993)
U.S. Tax Court, 1997
Associations / Memberships
Honors / Appointments
Pro Bono Service Award – Three Rivers Legal Services/Southern Legal Counsel, 2017
Pro Bono Service Award – Three Rivers Legal Services, Inc., 2016
Book Awards: Constitutional Law, Intellectual Property – Florida State University College of Law, 1992
Bruce Wavell Philosophy Prize – Rollins College, 1990
NEH Younger Scholars Award – National Endowment for the Humanities, 1987
I represent clients from Gainesville, Ocala, and the surrounding counties for estate planning—anything from simple wills to elaborate business succession plans, pre-nuptial agreements, or complex trust matters. I handle uncontested probate cases anywhere in Florida (except Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Pasco Counties), and contested estates and trusts in North Central Florida. I have handled many types of guardianship cases, and I regularly assist personal injury and wrongful death attorneys to open estates or guardianships when needed. I have handled many guardian advocacy cases for people with developmental disabilities, and my assistants and I are well versed in all aspects of guardianship law.
Even in law school, wills and estates and real property law were my favorite topics (after Constitutional Law) and I was drawn to transactional law and probate and guardianship where I could apply my analytic and problem-solving skills to help families in their greatest time of need—when a loved one has died or a disabled or incapacitated family member needs a guardian. Understanding these areas of law and seeing where planning can help avoid expense and complications led me to incorporate probate and guardianship avoidance in every discussion I have with an estate planning client.
Whenever a client contacts me, whether it is when they have young children to protect, retirement planning to coordinate, a business to pass down to the next generation, or in a hospital or nursing home, I find great satisfaction helping them complete a plan which will carry out their goals for themselves, loved ones, or charities. Working with more and more clients who are reaching their 90s is very rewarding. I so enjoy meeting them and hearing their stories. My work in these areas is meaningful, because I can see the benefit that is provided to families.
When I graduated from law school, I had to decide whether to stay in Tallahassee where I had worked for the Florida House of Representatives and the General Counsel’s Office for the Department of Transportation, and pursue a career in government, or continue my education with an LLM in Taxation at the University of Florida. Once I moved to Gainesville, I found it was a great place to stay and raise a family, so during the last 23 years, I have worked at two law firms in Gainesville and have twice established my own practice.
During this time, I did take a break from the full-time practice of law to become a high school English teacher in a rural community for six years. I still stay in touch with many former students and colleagues who work and live in rural areas, and a great percentage of my clients live in rural communities as well.
I think my time as a teacher has helped me communicate with clients and to explain difficult concepts in a clear manner. I will always take the time to make sure a client understands how their estate plan works or what is the next step in their case. I think my greatest strength as an attorney is my willingness to listen and to explain with patience and compassion.
My father was an attorney who had to give up his practice due to alcoholism. My mother was a reading teacher. I thought I would become a professor or maybe a museum director, but I also knew that I had the skills to handle abstract, difficult information, and that a career in law would allow me to stay in Florida, which is the place I love to be, and not have to travel from state to state seeking a university with a tenure track. I was inspired to become an attorney, because I love the history of the law and working with older lawyers and hearing their war stories.
I think attorneys are some of the smartest and most interesting people to spend time with. I like the autonomy of the practice of law, and I truly believe as officers of the court, we bear a great responsibility to preserve access to justice for people from every background. Knowing what my father went through has certainly kept me mindful of work/life balance which is not always easy when one is building a practice. I believe I have achieved a healthy balance, spending time with family on trips and for holidays, spending time in nature, and then getting back into the office and using my rational faculties to the fullest to address the important issues each client is facing.
I have had a few careers or what I guess are now called side gigs. I am a former high school English teacher, I completed significant graduate work in art history and worked at an art museum for several years while I was in grad school. I edited scholarly publications for the University of Florida Press and have also edited books for several professors and museums. I collect art especially paintings and photography. I have a mid-century house that was recently on the Gainesville Midcentury House Tour, and from that experience, I have become very passionate about historic preservation of modern architecture. If I didn’t practice law, I would be a museum director or curator, or a philosophy or art history professor.
I am also very involved in my local bar association, serving on the board, planning the annual dinner, and mentoring law students. Each semester, I teach one course in the paralegal studies program at Santa Fe College, and I really enjoy working with the students there. Last year, I took two trips to Europe. In the summer, I met my daughter in Paris and we toured Normandy, went to a music festival, then to the great cathedral cities in Belgium, then to the art capital of Amsterdam, and the royal city of Copenhagen. I traveled with my two adult children to Norway for Christmas—this was my artist son’s idea—and we went far above the Arctic Circle to experience mountainous islands dotted with fishing villages, fjords with frozen waterfalls, and the Northern Lights. Finally, I am a sixth generation Floridian, a member of the Broward family, and I love Florida history.
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