I grew up in New City, New York, the oldest of three sisters. I graduated from Clarkstown North High School in 1984 and went to Colgate University in upstate New York. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college, so I started my own computer graphics company out of my apartment in Westchester County, while also working part-time for my father’s Hardwood Flooring company.
After a year and half, I had a few graphics clients and was doing alright, but wanted some regular work, so I started looking for a job. I ended up landing a job on Wall Street with JP Morgan in their Mergers and Acquisitions Dept. doing graphics and presentation support. I thought I’d like to move up their corporate ladder and decided that I needed another degree to do that. So, in the Fall of 1990, I started law school at night at New York Law School.
After a year on Wall Street, I decided that Wall Street, New York City and Corporate America were not for me. I decided that I wanted to be in a place that was not as cut-throat competitive, that was slower and friendlier and warmer. I also decided that I wanted to focus on a more personal type of law than corporate. My parents were divorced when I was 14, and even though it was a very amicable divorce it had a very strong impact on me. I decided that I was much more suited to family law and that was what I focused on in school.
I stayed 3 more years in NY, deciding where I would move when I finished law school. In June 1992, I was maid-of-honor in a wedding in Tulsa, OK — it was my first time in Tulsa and I really liked it there. The people I met at the wedding told me that if I liked Tulsa, I would love Austin. So, in November of 1992, I visited Austin for 4 days. I loved it and decided that this is where I would move in the summer of 1993, when I only had one semester of law school left. I did my last semester of law school at UT.
One of my courses at UT Law School was a clinic where I acted as student attorney in Child Protective Services cases. During one of those cases, I met an attorney, KC Anderson, who later became one of my closest friends. At that time, I also started looking for a job. In December 1993, I was hired by a prominent family law attorney as his first associate, who told me to study hard for the bar (that I was registered to take in February 1994) and to start work on March 1. Sadly, while I was studying for the bar in January, that attorney passed away and I never got the opportunity to work with him.
I took the bar in both New York and Texas in February 1994 (I took the New York portion in NY on a Tuesday, and flew out Tuesday night to take the Multi-State and Texas portions in Austin on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). While I was waiting on my results (which wouldn’t be out until May), I started looking for work again. I didn’t know where to go, so I met with a local judge who I had appeared in front of as a student attorney. She surprised me and told me that I should open my own practice. I couldn’t imagine going out on my own straight out of law school, but she encouraged me and told me that from watching me in court, she had confidence in me. I got my bar results in May 1994 and decided that I had nothing to lose by trying it on my own, so I did it. KC and her husband (who was a prominent criminal attorney) helped me tremendously. They sent me small cases (at the time, I took both criminal and family cases) and they mentored me and advised me every step of the way. I know that I could not have done it without them.
In April 2004, my stepdaughter came to live with us full-time, making me a full-time mother / stepmother of three children. My boys are now a senior in high school and sophomore in college, and my step-daughter is working on her Masters Degree. As the children grew, I increased my time at the office to full-time “plus” Although I was at the office 5 days a week, I still tried to get home most afternoons in time for baseball practice, golf lessons, band concerts, piano, guitar, etc. Thank goodness technology had grown to the point that I could multitask from most any location.
In 2011, I went through the unfortunate experience of divorce myself. It truly opened my eyes and gave me a whole new perspective on what my clients experience every day. Although I thought I understood the emotions involved, I now know that I couldn’t truly understand or appreciate the rollercoaster of emotions that are involved, nor the long-term healing process for myself, my ex-husband and my children until I had to experience it for myself. It is certainly much more difficult than I had ever imagined.
I have found that each new experience in my life has given me new perspective on my cases. Although I deal in all aspects of family law, the primary focus of my practice is on divorce and/or custody cases. When I first began as a family law attorney, I had the perspective of the child of divorced parents. Then when I married, I was able to add in the perspective of what married life is like — how it takes work and can be difficult at times. It helped me relate a lot more to my clients. At the same time, I became a part-time stepmother, and that gave me a lot of insight into my cases — and helped me come up with creative solutions for my clients. Then when I became a mom, I suddenly viewed my cases in a whole new light. In fact, the first custody case that I handled after becoming a mom was extremely difficult for me and made me want to quit the practice of family law because it was too emotional for me. I looked into other areas of law, but since I had firmly established my reputation in the community as a family law attorney, those were the cases that came to me. I decided that because of my years as a family law attorney and because of my specific life experiences, I had a lot to offer my clients and decided to stick with it. Now that I have lived through the emotional rollercoaster of divorce myself, I can add that to the list of experiences that I share with many of my clients. With all that I have lived through myself, I can offer realistic advice on what my clients can expect during and after divorce, from the court, from their spouse and from their children. I can also argue my cases in court from a very personal perspective, since I have lived through many of the same experiences as my clients.