In 2001, my law practice primarily focused on family law (divorces, custody, child and spousal support, domestic-violence restraining orders, adoptions, etc.) and probate (probating of wills, conservatorships and guardianships). As the years passed in my family-law practice, I started to realize that I was spending more time dividing my client's debts than dividing my client's assets. To make matters worse, divorce caused my clients to go deeper into debt and financial crisis. Feeling the outcry for financial help, in 2003, I started dividing my time and energy between family/probate law and learning as much as I could about debt and money-management matters--the good, the bad and the ugly as I call it. For instance, I learned that a vast majority of my many clients, friends, neighbors and acquaintenances, in their mid-40s (to include attorneys, doctors, professors), had no savings, little or no retirement and lots of debt. (This was before the real-estate market crashed!)
Then, as providence would have it, I started expanding my educational base to include training and education in mortgage-related issues, insurance-related issues and retirement-related issues. (I also received my insurance license about 2007; and, am currently a candidate to become a Certified Financial Planner). The point is this: I realized through the study and research of multiple disciplines (legal, financial, insurance) that there many factors that need to be looked in order to best serve my clients and prospective clients during this scary financial time. Some factors that are important to consider include marital status, family status, age, health, income, job security, amount of debt, spending habits, short and long-term goals, and so on. So, if you are looking to file bankruptcy or settle your debt with your creditors, modify your home loan or foreclose on your home and your marriage is also at risk, these and many other factors need to be considered before taking the next step. Failing to properly "diagnose" your financial situation can have consequences that you didn't expect, e.g., having to deal with a deficiency judgment post foreclosure that you didn't expect to get from your lender(s).
So, since 2003 I have not stopped--I have now expanded my legal practice to include bankruptcy, debt settlement advocacy (an alternative to bankruptcy), mortgage-related advocacy and education and assistance (e.g., loan modification, short sales, foreclosures, deed-in-lieu of, etc.)
What makes me unique is that my overlapping areas of law benefit my clients--as I undertand the interwoven intricacies of how divorces, trusts, probate, bankruptcy, consumer debt can (and somtimes do) affect one another. For instance, depending on the stage a person is in connection with their divorce can affect the outcome of their bankrutpcy. So, timing is sometimes a key issue that needs to be addressed before proceeding with bankruptcy and/or mortgage-related issues, such as loan modification, foreclosure, etc.
My practice is now divided between two law offices:
At the Law Office of Linda C. Garrett--I practice consumer law-- providing consultations and legal assistance (as needed) dealing with mortgage-related issues, creditor/credit-card related issues and bankruptcy-related issues. I take pride in telling every one of my clients that they should not hire an attorney (including me) unless they need an attorney. For instance, before I agree to assist a client with a loan-modification, they have to have attempted to do the loan modification on their own and/or worked with the assistance of a free HUD-approved counsel before-hand. For the majority of folks (since there are always exceptions) hiring an attorney should be a course of last resort, not first!
At the law office of Bryan * Hinshaw, I am a senior associate, specializing in family-related law to include divorces (to include same-sex marriages and dissolution of same-sex partnerships), child and spousal support, just to name a few) and probate-related law (to incude probate, guardianships, conservatorships and trust administration).