“If you want to be genuinely kind, you have to be of actual benefit - nobody wants to be the recipient of “help” that isn’t really helpful - and you have to provide that benefit in a way that shows respect and empathy for the other person’s needs.”
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

About Jan

"That's so good, Mr. Goldberg, that my son is doing so well in your school.  But at the end of the day, ya know, he comes home to my house."  
My dad was the principal of a school for children with special needs in New York.  When he retired and my folks moved to an active senior community in California, he spent twenty more years in leadership positions in the governance of that community.  My father would quote this boy's father to teach that professionals---teachers, doctors, politicians and certainly lawyers--- must never pretend that we alone can judge the quality of the services we provide.  While there can be no guarantees of complete success, of course, he taught that we must always look at whether the people we serve have actually benefited from what we have done.  

I rebelled against my public school teacher parents by going to a private women's college and then law school.  After graduating from Bryn Mawr  and Stanford, I practiced corporate and real estate litigation at a large New York City law firm (which included as pro bono counsel representing a class of mentally disabled individuals suing the Social Security Administration for using the wrong standards in evaluating mental illness as well as fighting for health insurance equity for women). After that, I moved to a multi-national pharmaceutical and chemical company representing them in products liability and environmental cases.

Becoming a family took longer than my husband and I expected.  Finally, through adoption, we were blessed with our daughters.  I realized that although I wanted to continue working, I needed a practice that I was proud to tell my daughters I had left them for that day. So I left the corporate world and started a private practice, counseling and representing families of children with special needs as well as representing children and adults in New York’s family courts in custody, juvenile justice, child welfare and domestic violence cases.  Soon I became Legal Director of a non-profit educational advocacy agency.  Since moving to Washington in 2003, I have represented and counseled families regarding school issues, special needs planning, child protective cases, at-risk youth situations as well as estate planning, guardianship, special needs planning and elder law.

My mother died in 2005 after nearly two years of treatment for Stage 4 colon cancer.  When I went down to California to take care of her in the final weeks of her life, I realized that she had downplayed the extent of my father's declining mental state.  From 2006-2008, I took a break from the law in part to take care of my 91 year old dad who we moved to Seattle.  We all struggled with his increasing dementia and fragility.  I trained as a chaplain, completing a residency in clinical pastoral education at Harborview/University of Washington Medical Center, concentrating in mental health and end of life issues.  I also enrolled at All Faiths Seminary in New York and in 2008 was ordained as an InterFaith Minister.   Working within the health care system both as my father's advocate/caregiver and as a chaplain taught me how health care providers look at rehabilitation planning, discharge planning, and health insurance (private and public). It gave me hands-on experience of how families make complex decisions about health and finances.  After leaving chaplaincy, I juggled part-time law practice with full-time family responsibilities.  Our younger daughter has some complex learning disabilities and continues to face personal challenges as she matures.  Our older daughter has taught us that all people even those typically developing or gifted face challenges and crises.   After dad died and the girls had both graduated from high school, I returned to full-time legal practice determined to focus on life planning issues.

I have been privileged to share this journey with my husband and partner (though not law partner!) of almost 40 years and the dogs who make us laugh every day.  When you come to our offices, you will see pictures of my family.  Please bring pictures of yours.