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Joyce Stewart Schwensen

Adoption Attorney at Seattle, WA

4.8   22 reviews
  • Licensed for 39 years
    State WA
    Acquired 1984
    Voluntarily Resigned No misconduct found

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

About Joyce

Learn Joyce’s areas of practice.

Practice areas
  1. Adoption
    Adoption and Assisted Reproduction

    40 years

  2. Real estate

    40 years

  3. Estate planning

    40 years

  4. Other

I have been in the private practice of law for over thirty-five years, and  I love helping people through the legal profession.  I pride myself on being approachable and caring in a profession that is too often intimidating to the people who need legal help.


I have many years of experience in real estate transactions, business law, estate planning and probate from my time practicing in a downtown Seattle law firm. Then 20 years ago  left downtown Seattle in order to expand my practice into the place where my heart resides, in the field of adoption law, assisted reproduction, and surrogacy. I strive to help people orm new lives together by bringing children into their families through adoption or assisted reproduction. Family matters are personal and close to each of us, and I'm happy to handle complicated or difficult cases with compassion and empathy.

I have developed a law practice in the areas of adoption, assisted reproduction, estate planning, probate, real estate, and business transactions. 


My background includes a J.D. earned at the Washington State University School of Law. I became licensed to practice law in Washington after graduating in 1984. I am an active member of the Washington State and King County Bar Associations, including a number of sections such as Family Law, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Issues, and Probate and Trust Law. From 2001 to 2010 I was the founder and executive director of a licensed adoption agency, Adoption Assistance and Homestudy Service. 


It is my honor and privilege to provide experienced and compassionate legal representation to my clients.


Photos and videos


12055 15th Avenue NE
Suite C
Seattle, WA, 98125

Adoption lawyers nearby


4.8 / 5.0
  22 customer reviews
Posted by Dustin | August 14, 2020
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Best experience, so helpfull
Mrs. Schwensen gave me the best and most affordable service I could ask for. She was so very professional, polite and patient. Thoroughly explaining everything until I understood. Thank you Joyce!!!
Posted by Thomas | December 6, 2019
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Joyce, you were an absolute delight to work and consult with on our Washington - Ohio Interstate Adoption. You were always available, knew the law inside and out, and were accessible day and night. You were incredibly kind and compassionate. I can't wait to work with you again!
Posted by anonymous | December 6, 2016
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Family will squabble
Joyce wrote up my mothers last will and testament. I hired her after my mother passed. She was not only proficient in carrying out her last wishes, but became a friend as well. My parents wanted to make sure certain persons were to be left out and Joyce told my mother the best way to achieve that goal. I hired her to fulfill those last wishes. Thank you Joyce!
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Posted by David | July 29, 2016
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Small business real estate quagmire
My problem had to do with a business real estate transaction complicated by a former tenant/abandoned property/IRS and creditor liens/probate/purchase and sale contract squabble. I was referred to Joyce after my other attorney disclosed a conflict of interest. Joyce took the time for a lengthy initial phone conversation then quickly and efficiently digested the information I sent her and responded with substantive options that reflected her understanding of my priorities. The issue involved a few weeks of email and telephone exchanges (I never had to meet in person) and wrapped up with a satisfying result that left me impressed with her professionalism, competency, and value.
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Posted by Laurel | May 14, 2016
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Legal help to move small business corp. from MD to WA
Joyce was personable, knowledgeable, and efficient. She answered all the questions my husband and I had about the process. She accessed resources and researched issues that were outside of her previous knowledge in order to give us the best advice. She reached out and spoke with our tax advisor to help us decide between different approaches we could have taken.We would definitely call Joyce for future legal needs and recommend her highly.
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Posted by Chris | June 10, 2015
excellent service, delivered quickly and logically
I went in for my appointment with Joyce, reviewed all the relevant information, and came up with a helpful, logical, effective plan. Joyce prepared the relevant document for me while I sat in her office and we completed the project in about one hour. I know that all legal issues are not as narrow in scope as mine, but I was still impressed at Joyce's clarity and efficiency in meeting my needs. Joyce was both personable and knowledgeable as we worked together. We quickly had a level of comfort together even as we moved through data gathering and substantive issues. I am extremely satisfied with the plan and action Joyce helped me arrive at. A great outcome!
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Posted by anonymous | April 6, 2015
Excellent lawyer!!
Joyce is an excellent attorney. She's smart and compassionate. I'd definitely recommend her for any LGBT family planning or any family law issues.
Posted by anonymous | November 30, 2013
Total Integrity
We reviewed a title commitment and a bunch of questions about a forclosure property. I had recently interacted with another real estate law firm so I had the opportunity to compare. I went to Joyce when I was nickel and dimed by the other firm for a totally unimportant document and they weren't even helpful. Joyce by contrast was thorough, caring, honest and showed complete integrity and most importantly completely useful in helping me.
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Posted by Mike | March 26, 2012
The real deal
I hired Joyce for a real estate matter after having a negative experience with a prior attorney.Not only was she efficient and very knowledgeable, she also exhibited a calm, genuine demeanor easing my concerns.When working with an attorney,you want someone that speaks your language and Joyce certainly fits the bill.
Posted by Dominic | November 29, 2011
A great experience.
I recieved some advice from Joyce on AVVO, and thought that her knowledge on my given topic was substantial enough to give her a call. It didnt take long to retain her as she obviously cared to help me. She is fast, efficiant, and overall very resonable. I used her services for a real estate matter, and I walked away with a very positive, good feeling. My only fault was she was definitly more worried about my case than I was :) (probably because I was stuck in a corner, and wanted to ignore my issue).
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Posted by anonymous | October 18, 2011
Mistake Fixer
We hired Joyce after a very bad experience with our first attorney. Joyce began correcting his mistakes immediately by filing the correct papers with the court, serving the proper parties and building our case to reverse the biggest inadequacy of the previous attorney--failing to provide the court with our evidence. Joyce properly filed the evidence, built a strong argument, always gave us many options to consider and thoroughly read and remembered the details of our case. Our situation was complicated and drawn out, but it was worth the struggle because we WON! I would recommend Joyce for issues dealing with trusts and real estate.
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Posted by Megan | July 25, 2011
Real Estate Lease Review
Joyce was responsive and informative in helping us wade through a 96 page lease. Without her help we'd never have known what was being said through all the legalese. As it turns out the money we spent for Joyce's research and expertise saved us an enormous sum of money.
Posted by Tiffany | July 24, 2011
Recommendation for Joyce
Joyce has fielded all of our legal questions as we've started and now grown our consulting business. She has always been extremely responsive no matter what question we're throwing her way. We feel very fortunate to have her looking out for us.
Posted by Sue | August 8, 2010
Adoption/real estates attorney
Joyce was very professional and knowledgeable when she assisted us int the adoption of our 2 children. We would use her again and recommend her highly to anyone looking for an attorney to assist with their adoption.
Posted by Kamala | May 27, 2010
Very pleased with Joyce
Joyce was a pleasure to work with. She is the expert in her area and we relied on that. She gave us a ballpark of how much it would cost and she came in right on target. That means a lot in this world where most lawyers would nickle and dime you to death! I recommend her highly
Posted by Patti | May 5, 2010
Great family lawyer!!
Joyce has helped us tremendously with any and all of our family law dealings. She helped us put together a family will a few years ago and did a very thorough and thoughtful job. She also handled the closing on the sale of our rental property. She is very responsive on email and is quick with an answer as how to handle a situation. We always trust Joyce!
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Posted by Timothy and Heather Wright | April 28, 2010
The "prefect" lawyer
We used Joyce for the adoption of our little girl. She came highly recommended from our agency and we were impressed with her the first moment we spoke to her. We were from out of state and she took the time to explain every detail of the process to us. When we hit a paperwork glitch at the hospital she drove down to speak to the individuals in charge on a Saturday and it was a holiday weekend. She is a great attorney.
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Posted by Stephanie Cutter | April 21, 2010
Step-parent adoption
Joyce is a fantastic adoption attorney...I have referred and will continue to refer to her. She made the process of step-parent adoption as seamless as it could be. And I had a not cooperative birth parent to deal with. I can not say enough good things about her.
Posted by Megan | April 21, 2010
Competent, genuine and empathetic
Most recently, Joyce helped me navigate a complicated step-parent adoption.  She handled the difficult and uncomfortable dynamics of the case with ease and understanding.  Previously she had helped me form a limited liability company for my business, and though her passion is obviously adoption, she moves with clients effortlessly through a variety of law types. Her fees were fair, and I actually enjoyed my meetings with her. I recommend her without reservation.
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Posted by Jon | April 21, 2010
Good experiences establishing LLC and corporations
Joyce helped me set up two different businesses (one LLC and one S-corp) and wrote up shareholder agreements for both. She is easy to work with and it was very clear that she always had my best interests in mind when writing the agreements.
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  • Hourly Rates $ 325-380 per hour
Payment methods
Cash, Check, Credit Card


AVVO RATING 9.8 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Principal
  • Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen
  • 2001 - Present
  • Of Counsel
  • Graham & Dunn PC
  • 2000 - 2001
  • Member
  • Smith Smart, PLLC
  • 1984 - 2000


  • University of Washington School of Law
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 1984
  • Washington State University
  • BA
  • 1979


  • Washington State Bar Association, Family Law Section
  • Member
  • 2007 - Present
  • King County Bar Association
  • Member
  • 2006 - Present
  • Washington State Bar Association, Real Property, Probate and Trust Section
  • Member
  • 2000 - Present
  • Washington State Bar Association
  • Member
  • 1984 - Present
  • Washington State Bar Association, Sexual Orienation and Gender Identification Legal Issues (SOGILI) Section
  • Treasurer
  • 2012 - 2014
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English

Honors and Awards

  • AV Preeminent Rated
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2021
  • Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2021

Speaking Engagements

  • Adoption Law: Start to Finish
  • Adoption Law
  • 2012
  • Adoption Law: Start to Finish
  • Adoption Law
  • 2010
  • Practical Guide To Adoptions
  • Adoption Law
  • 2008
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Real Estate Practice
  • Real Estate Transactions
  • 2005
View all speaking engagements

Attorney endorsements

Received (11)
Given (8)
Endorse Joyce
Adoption Attorney | Dec 09
Relationship: Worked together on matter
"Joyce, you were an absolute delight to work and consult with on our Washington - Ohio Interstate Adoption. You were always available, knew the law inside and out, and were accessible day and night. You were incredibly kind and compassionate. I can't wait to work with you again!"
Adoption Attorney | Mar 17
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Joyce is a very experienced attorney on adoption, real estate, wills & probate, and business law issues. If you want someone with the knowledge and experience of a big downtown law firm attorney, but you also want someone who will give you the personal attention you deserve, I recommend Joyce."
Adoption Attorney | Jan 11
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"When you are dealing with issues as personal and important as family and finances, you need the best advocate possible. I unreservedly endorse Joyce Schwensen as an experienced, skilled and practical attorney. Joyce is my go-to person for any question about adoption issues, probate/wills or small business issues. She is a great listener, and knows the legal issues inside and out. Many lawyers hold themselves out to be generalists: they claim to be able to do it all. However, when you are dealing with family issues (adoptions, custody) or finances (trusts, estates, small business) you want a specialist who knows all the issues. Joyce is that person, and is also a tremendously hard worker, a skilled legal writer and a great person."
Adoption Attorney | Jan 06
Relationship: Co-worker
"Without a doubt, I endorse this lawyer 100%! Joyce is a bulldog! Her successes in court say it all. I've been very blessed to have her in my corner as she is an indispensable resource. Joyce quickly returns my voicemails, emails and always has her office door open for bouncing ideas back and forth. If she doesn't have the answer on the spot, she has directed me to another resource or lawyer. =)"
Real estate Attorney | Dec 18
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Joyce Schwensen provides the highest level of service for her clients, and she is an effective advocate, bringing a wealth of real estate law expertise to her clients."
Adoption Attorney | Jul 23
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Joyce is smart, helpful and wonderfully patient. She knows her business. She helped me immensely, always willing to share information and keep me on track. In a profession that seems to be too full of ego and self importance it is nice to have colleagues that are professional, smart and take the time to care."
Estate planning Attorney | May 13
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer. I send all my friends and clients to Joyce when they need estate planning whether complex or simple. She treats everyone with respect and I have used her myself for my own planning."
Business Attorney | Nov 12
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I have know joyce for many years and consulted with her on numerous occasions. She is an excellent compassionate lawyer and provides great assistance to her clients."
Adoption Attorney | Jul 20
Relationship: Co-worker
"Joyce and I have shared office space since October 2009. During this time, I have had the benefit of her vast knowledge of adoption law, which is a difficult area of practice due to the many nuances, rules and regulations therein. I believe she is one of the best in her field and I highly endorse her services."
Real estate Attorney | May 31
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I have known and worked with Joyce for over 25 years. Joyce is a dedicated and compassionate advociate for her cients. She is an experienced and well-respected attorney who puts the best interest of her clients first. I have referred friends and clients to Joyce over the years and will continue to do so."
Adoption Attorney | Oct 06
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Joyce is a great lawyer that always can answer the questions I have quickly and clearly."
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