By Lisa Hostetler Brown
I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer when I was twelve years old. I didn’t have a backup plan. Nobody ever said, "Well, what if you don't get into law school?" I've always known that law was the profession for me.
When I graduated from law school in 2007, I got a job working as an attorney for a general practice firm that handled real estate cases. This was transactional work. You met your client at the signing, and then they were gone. Maybe you would hear from them a decade later. Maybe not.
The attorney who sat at the desk next to mine worked on elder law cases. I saw what she was doing, and I was fascinated. After my real estate work was finished each day, I would stay late to help my colleague with her cases. I really loved that elder law seemed to make a positive difference in these people's lives. It wasn't just, "Sign here and go on your way."
Eventually, I was practicing elder law full time. I even started my own elder law firm. I was meeting with people, creating their estate planning documents, and setting up trusts like any good elder law attorney does. But my clients and their families were leaving my office with a stack of documents that they would file away and forget about. Those documents weren’t making day-to-day life easier for them.
My first exposure to Life Care Planning happened at a conference for Certified Elder Law Attorneys in Pittsburgh. One attorney who works at a very successful Life Care Planning Law Firm told me about his practice. I knew right away that Life Care Planning was for me.
Life Care Planning is such a good fit for the personality of my firm. I am a very creative person, and Life Care Planning gives me the freedom needed to solve problems for families that traditional elder law—with its focus on finances—simply can’t address. To me, designing Life Care Plans for my clients is a lot like being an artist, having a vision for a painting, and then creating that painting using a wide array of paint colors and brushes. When a prospective client comes in with problems that a Life Care Plan might solve, the vision for the future comes from the client and his or her family. It’s then up to me to choose the legal, financial, and care-related strategies—the colors and the paintbrushes—that will help them reach their goals.
There are so many options in Life Care Planning. If aging, long-term illness or disability happen to you, how do we get you the care you need in the least restrictive environment? Do you stay home? Do you go to a facility? Does somebody move into our house? Do you move into your child's house? Do we build an addition? I just love learning and adding new paintbrushes and new colors into what I'm doing so that when my potential clients come in, I have all these options for them—things they've never thought about.
What I love most about Life Care Planning is that it’s relational. The stress will melt off their faces when they're getting ready to sign on with us, because they know that they no longer have to do this alone. We are here for our clients every step of the way. I love the sense of relief that comes across a person's face when they make the decision to hire us, and it’s worth far more than the money they spend to hire us.
Lisa Hostetler Brown is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and founder of LawyerLisa, a Life Care Planning Law Firm based in Lexington, South Carolina.