Almost twenty years ago I started my own family law firm. I envisioned a place where individuals going through the de-coupling process could feel empowered through education and understanding. Today, I am proud to say that our funky waterfront offices in Seattle and Bellevue-Redmond are exactly what I had in mind all those years ago. Our firm practices exclusively in family law and estate planning, and I’ve managed to put together an amazing group of people. Most of our lawyers have a background in either finance or human services, and our paralegals are second to none. So, in addition to being smart, strong advocates, our team is financially savvy, warm, compassionate, and most importantly, family focused. Check out everyone’s bios here on the website to see what I mean. We are a group of compassionate, fierce advocates.
As a small business owner myself, I feel a kindred spirit with those who have put their hearts and souls into juggling career and family. When a family breaks up, the transition is overwhelming, not only from an emotional perspective, but financially as well. I pride myself on my ability to help people manage huge life transitions. In fact, prior to becoming an attorney, I was a high-risk labor and delivery nurse at the University of Washington. Over the years I have discovered that the divorce process is not unlike the process of labor and delivery – it’s scary, painful and sometimes a little out of control – but in the end, it’s empowering to look back and see that you made it through.
I find that my background as a small business owner and a former nurse helps me in a couple of interesting ways. My nursing background gives me a unique perspective as to how to support divorcing individuals undertaking the unimaginable stress of the often-unfriendly legal process. And my experience dealing with the day-to-day realities of managing a business gives me insight into the hopes and dreams of entrepreneurs. I particularly enjoy working with small business owners and professionals who need a creative solution for managing the financial aspect of divorce.
Some of the issues facing small business owners include how to value a business, and if the business qualifies as a separate property interest. And then there is the dreaded issue of spousal support. I fully understand the midnight panic attacks experienced by business owners and professionals faced with overwhelming financial concerns as they try to figure out how they will get back on track after their divorce. Here’s one thing I’ve learned from my clients in this regard: you had what it took to build your career or business – you can do it again. You just need some really good support and innovative legal thinking to get you through this process, so you can go back to focusing on what you’re good at and what you love.
I’m lucky to work with a fantastic team of experts who have demonstrated a special commitment to serving our firm’s clients. Yes, that means weekend and evening availability for our busy entrepreneurs. We get that you live in a 24/7 world. We gladly give out our cell phone numbers to our clients when it makes sense. Family law doesn’t happen between nine and five anymore.
In my practice I focus exclusively on family law, handling amicable and complex family law matters. I regularly take particularly challenging cases to trial in King County. My experience as a trial lawyer and as a former Member of the Washington State Association for Justice Board of Governors has provided me with helpful litigation strategy and trial skills.
In addition to my legal practice, I have also authored a series of books called the Civil Survival Series. That curriculum is currently being transformed into an online program, Civil Survival Online, for high school students and community organizations as well as individuals re-entering society after prison.
The one accomplishment that I’m most proud of is founding a program called Civil Survival Project. A few years back, I had an opportunity to teach basic legal survival skills to formerly incarcerated individuals and boy, did I learn a lot! The thing that struck me was the enormous number of barriers faced by people who have done their time in prison and are trying to get their lives back on track. As I listened to story after story of unimaginable struggle just to get a job or housing, it occurred to me that all of these problems could be solved by changing laws and policies. So, I created workshops to teach formerly incarcerated people how to advocate for themselves at the state and local level. Over the past few years, we have trained nearly four hundred individuals, and our group of formerly incarcerated people has testified in Olympia, at City and County Council meetings, at Supreme Court symposia, and they have worked with over forty affiliated organizations who work to level the playing field for formerly incarcerated individuals. I now count as friends some of the most amazing individuals who have re-created themselves after prison. Some have graduated from law school, or received advanced degrees, some are professors, some are students. And all are passionate activists dedicated to helping those still in prison, and those who are working to re-enter the community. I could not be more proud of these colleagues. They inspire me every single day.
On a personal note, my husband Philip DuBois recently flunked out of retirement from his busy OB-GYN practice at Swedish Hospital and went to practice with a friend at Seattle Women’s where they treat issues around menopause and women’s sexual medicine. He also authored a book for men about women and menopause and sex. We have two fabulous adult daughters (one who is attending SU Law!), and a very special Australian Labradoodle named Avi. When I’m not working, I can usually be found hanging out cooking something complicated and amazing at our place on Decatur Island.
Areas of Practice
- Complex Family Law
- Washington, 1986
- U.S. District Court Western District of Washington, 1991
- U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 1991
- Seattle University, School of Law, Seattle, Washington
- J.D. 1986
- Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington
- B.S.N. 1978
- Major: Nursing
Classes and Seminars
- Speaker, American Public Health Association Annual Meeting: Legislative and Policy Barriers Impacting Successful Reentry
- Speaker and Chairperson, Numerous Continuing Education Seminars for Attorneys, Nurses and Mental Health Professionals
- Teacher, Basic Legal Survival Skills to formerly incarcerated individuals at various organizations
- Presenter and Organizer, Civil Survival Project Workshops
- Volunteer, Garfield High School supporting teachers teaching legal survival skills
- Civil Survival Educational Series
- Founder, Civil Survival Project
- Board Member, Civil Survival Project
- Board Member, Freedom Education Project Puget Sound
- Member, Women’s Presidents Organization
- Volunteer Attorney, El Centro de La Raza Family Law Clinic
- Volunteer Attorney, various formerly incarcerated individuals with family law issues
- President, Women’s Funding Alliance (past)
- Board Member, Peace Trees Vietnam (past)
- Committee Member, Innocence Project Northwest Annual Dinner (past)
- Board Member, Post Prison Education Project (past)
- Board Member, Teamworks Academy (past)
- Board Member, Shoreline Public Schools Foundation (past)
- Board Member, Klahaya Swim and Tennis Club (past)
- Trustee, Foundation of Swedish Medical Center Edmonds (past)
- Board Member, The Center for Spiritual Living (past)
- Board Member, Women’s Funding Alliance (past)
- Washington State Association for Justice, Chair of Women’s and Family Law Sections
- Washington State Association for Justice, Member
- Washington State Association for Justice, Board of Governors (past)