I think it is important for clients to understand the laws that govern their cases and the legal process and encourage my client’s to ask questions throughout their case. There are no “dumb” questions. If a client does their own research on the law and has questions, I am happy to talk with them. One thing I tell my clients, though, is that the outcome of a family law case is very fact dependent – their case is not exactly the same as their co-worker’s or their friend’s case, so they should not expect the same outcome. Legal advice should come from an attorney who knows the client’s specific facts and goals.
Are you willing to review documents prepared by clients?
Yes, I am willing to review documents prepared by a client – in fact, I encourage it. The “do-it-yourself” forms are not applicable to everyone’s case, and I have seen first-hand how completing them incorrectly can have damaging consequences. Those forms do not include language that can protect the client from future legal disputes. I usually suggest that the client use those forms as a starting point to write out what they want and hire me or another attorney to modify them to fit the client’s specific needs.
Why did you decide to be a lawyer?
My sister was injured as a young child and I remember going to her lawyer’s office and thinking about how exciting the law was to me. My parents were in law enforcement when I was very young, and after we moved to Salem my mother went through a paralegal program and worked for an attorney in Salem. So I have been exposed to the law for most of my life. I have always found the law interesting and knew I wanted to be a lawyer from a young age.
What work experience and education helps you to be a better lawyer?
My path to becoming a lawyer was not like most. I began living on my own at age 16. I started an evening paralegal program at age 17 and worked during the day. In 2001 I started working as a legal assistant for a small Salem firm. From 2001 through 2011 when I obtained my license to practice law, I worked for some great attorneys here in Oregon and I learned a lot about the law and working with clients. That background gave me a big advantage because when I came out of law school I already had the foundational knowledge I needed to hit the ground running – the things they don’t teach you in law school. This has allowed me to focus my time on the goals of my clients.
Why did you decide on your primary area of practice?
In 2004 I was offered a job at Garrett Hemann Robertson, P.C. in their family law department. I did not have much family law experience at that time but I learned quickly from some great people. Ever since I knew I wanted my practice to focus on family law. I enjoy family law because there is never a dull moment. There is always a connection to some other area of law in family law cases. I also like to help people deal with problems, and for me some of the most important legal problems involve a person’s children, home, finances, etc. – basically all of the important aspects of a person’s daily life are involved in a family law case.
What do you like best about your career?
Helping people who have entrusted me with guiding them through their legal matter gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
What are your strengths and style?
My preferred approach to family law cases is to encourage settlement whenever possible, especially when children are involved. It is rare that litigants are 100% happy when a judge makes a decision for their family based on the limited amount of information presented in court. I will typically pursue settlement options while also moving the case along toward trial because sometimes settlements fall apart at the last minute and you have to take a case to trial. I also thrive under pressure!
My strengths include maintaining good communication with my clients and providing the information they need to make informed decisions. I make sure to stay in regular contact with my clients so they know what is going on in their cases, and if a decision needs to be made I will tell the client all of the options and the pros and cons of each. This helps the client to feel involved and their opinions and feelings respected.
I enjoy spending time with my family watching movies, riding bikes and quads, and enjoying the sunshine when we have it! I also love to travel and take weekend trips.
Activities and awards
- Regular commentator on Avvo.com
- 2014 Certificate for Basic Mediation Training, University of Oregon Law School
- 2013-2014 Chair of the Lane County Bar Association, Family Law Section
- 2013 Volunteer coach for McNary High School moot court team
- 2012-2013 Chair of the Lane County Bar Association, New Lawyer Division
- 2012-2013 Pro bono attorney, Survivor’s Justice Center
- 2009 Vice President, Law Partners student group, Willamette University College of Law
- 2006 Dean’s List/Honor Roll, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
- Oregon State Bar – 2011
- Oregon State Bar Family Law Section
- Lane County Bar Association
- Marion County Bar Association
- Oregon Women Lawyers
- Oregon State Bar