(Photo: Attorney Abbie Shindler)
By Victoria Kertz, California Business Journal.
Estate planning. Conservatorships. Prenuptial agreements. All topics that the average person spends very little time thinking about — and for good reason. They’re exceedingly complicated and perhaps you don’t really need one … Until you do. That’s when panic sets in and an attorney is needed asap.
Enter Abbie Shindler of Buchalter Law, a master in navigating the legal forest.
“Growing up,” Shindler says, “I always enjoyed helping people. That was my passion.” Friends, family and animals, Shindler was their advocate when they were in need. She would go on to gather hands-on experience as a Judicial Extern to the Honorable Colin Campbell from The Superior Court of Arizona, learning her way around a courtroom and finding a passion for probate administration (the judicial process for validating last will and testaments). She earned her J.D. at California Western School of Law in San Diego and her B.A. Magna Cum Laude from the University of Arizona.
Now, as a mother of two and in her 20th year of practicing law, Shindler works at one of the nation’s most respected firms, Buchalter, and specializes in legal transactions that enable her to advise those in need of an ally, quite often women who find themselves on the precipice of a new beginning; a wedding, a divorce or widowhood.
Shindler uses her own life experiences as a mother to offer expert counsel with the invaluable qualities of comfortability, confidence and perspective. “I often represent the female party,” she says. “I have to find a balance with work and family myself, so I can give other women good advice.”
Much of Shindler’s work centers around protecting women from financial ruin in a variety of circumstances. Career women, she notes, need to be protected if they give up their career to get married and raise children through prenuptial agreements. But it’s not a quick process. When a wedding date is quickly approaching and a couple is not seeing eye-to-eye on certain details, she gives them a task to complete.
“Communicate,” she says boldly. “I always encourage my clients to talk among themselves and then come back to me. It’s more productive. When parties don’t communicate, that’s when issues will never be resolved. Communication is key. And don’t wait until the last minute. Initiate the process well in advance, so you’re not rushed to sign,” Shindler says.
“Sometimes people are in a bad situation because they fail to communicate in the first place. In these types of scenarios, I provide a questionnaire for clients to review with discussion points or a checklist for them to talk amongst themselves that will allow them to open the doors to communicate and prioritize their wishes. This approach typically works so they can move forward with resolving their issues.”
When Shindler works with widows, she understands that some of them have never dealt with finances on their own and need someone to walk them through a litany of processes. “I do a lot of hand-holding and advising as to the best strategies for each client’s unique situation,” she says. Her clients are always embarking on a new journey and sometimes an unwelcome one at that.
“My focus with my clients is to get them to feel comfortable working with an attorney. Some people try to avoid working with lawyers,” she says with a knowing laugh, “so comfort is important in my area of practice. They trust me with their personal issues in life — assets, finance, legacy. Comfort is critical.”
One of her objectives is providing clients with the confidence they need to get through a trying situation. One example of how she goes above and beyond the usual attorney relationship is with new widows, particularly those who are new to legal or financial management.
“They’re often in the dark on finances,” she says. “They need someone to guide them through the process — and make them feel comfortable. Once they gain my trust with all the support I provide, I always tell my clients that they can call me their ‘family attorney.’ Whether it’s personal or business, I am there for them.”
It’s one less big thing to worry about with Shindler, who’s not only ultra responsive, but also a subject-matter expert in challenging transactions like prenuptial agreements and estate planning. “Having that type of experience, it helps to advise future clients,” she says. “You know when something worked one time, but not another. I always want my clients to know that I will do everything in my power to impart my knowledge and make their experience as flawless as possible.”
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