Courageous Conversations…Topics to avoid at the dinner table, but bring to the conference table.


Thursday, December 12, 2019, 12:00-1:30pm EST

Roundtable Moderator: Vanessa L. Kanaga, Esq., President and Director of Content Development, InterActive Legal

Roundtable Panelists:  Lori Anne Douglass, Esq., Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Esq., and Martin M. Shenkman, Esq.

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As we make our way through the holiday season, we are reminded of the old adage about avoiding certain subjects such as religion, sex, and politics at the dinner table. Many of us know from experience how difficult it can be to discuss these topics in mixed company, even with our own families. The impulse to avoid these subjects for fear of hurting or offending others is a good one, and may be a smart way to navigate polite conversation. However, some sensitive or politically-charged subjects can be vitally important to a client or the client’s family, and failure to discuss them with the client could have a substantial detrimental effect on the client’s estate plan. In some cases, the client will raise the topic, but in others, it may make sense for the attorney to drive the discussion. What is the best way to navigate these conversations? What are some key points estate planning attorneys should know about certain subjects in order to address them with respect and understanding?

Join our panelists, Jonathan Blattmachr, Lori Anne Douglass, Elizabeth Schwartz, and Martin Shenkman, along with moderator Vanessa Kanaga for this special holiday roundtable touching on challenging issues such as religion, gender, race, and politics, and how they might affect our clients and our practice.

Topics for discussion include:

• Dealing with issues of gender fluidity – both in speaking with clients and within your estate planning documents.

• Providing tips for representing clients with different backgrounds and beliefs– those of different religions, genders, sexual orientation, and more.

• Considering how to work with clients with whom you disagree – can you (or should you) represent them?

• Tailoring your firm website and promotional materials to be inclusive, rather than exclusive – achieve greater success by showing respect for potential clients and their varied estate planning needs.

Join our experienced panel as we gather at our holiday roundtable to chew on these tough issues.  We may not be able to help you tackle them with family at the dinner table, but you’ll learn what you need to know to address them with clients around the conference room table.

Our Roundtable Moderator

Vanessa L. Kanaga, Esq., President and Director of Content Development, InterActive Legal ^

Vanessa Kanaga joined InterActive Legal in 2013 and serves as President and Director of Content Development. In her role, Vanessa oversees the development of InterActive Legal program content, in addition to working with CEO, Michael L. Graham, to guide the company in its future direction, and manage day-to-day operations. Vanessa received her J.D. from Cornell Law School, Magna Cum Laude, in 2006, and holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Wichita State University, with a minor in Music, as well as an Advanced Professional Certificate from New York University School of Law. Following law school, Vanessa practiced in New York for several years, at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP, and then Moses & Singer, LLP. In 2012, she returned to her home town of Wichita, Kansas, where she was an associate attorney in the estate planning and probate practice group at Hinkle Law Firm, LLC, before joining InterActive Legal.

Meet the Panelists

Lori Anne Douglass, Esq., Douglass Rademacher LLP ^

Lori Anne Douglass, of Douglass Rademacher LLP in New York, New York, focuses her practice on estate planning and business succession planning, as well as estate administration and estate litigation. Lori handles both contested and uncontested estate matters, representing heirs, beneficiaries, disinherited family members, executors, administrators and trustees in contested probate proceedings, and advising clients in the preparation of family agreements and resolving family disputes. She is frequently interviewed for articles on estate and business planning and is a well-known lecturer at national conferences and continuing legal education seminars. Lori has written extensively in her practice areas and has been named to the New York Metro Super Lawyers list in recognition of her work in estate litigation for 2012-2018.

Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Esq., Elizabeth F. Schwartz, PA ^

Elizabeth F. Schwartz, of Elizabeth F. Schwartz, PA in Miami, has been practicing law since 1997 and is a nationally recognized advocate for the legal rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. She is the author of the book Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise (The New Press, 2016). While her firm equally works with straight and gay clients in matters of family law, estate planning and probate, she has been at the forefront of providing crucial legal protections for LGBT families. She lectures locally, nationally, and internationally about critical topics including the impact of nationwide marriage equality and the continued importance of LGBT couples protecting their loved ones through estate planning, stepparent, and second parent adoption.

Martin M. Shenkman, Esq., InterActive Legal Advisor ^

Martin M. Shenkman is an attorney in private practice in Fort Lee, NJ, and New York City. His practice concentrates on estate and tax planning, planning for closely held business, and estate administration. Mr. Shenkman is an author of over 40 books and more than 800 articles. He is an editorial board member of Trusts & Estates Magazine and the Matrimonial Strategist, and an advisor for InterActive Legal. He is the recipient of many awards including being a 2013 recipient of the prestigious Accredited Estate Planners (Distinguished) award from the National Association of Estate Planning Counsels. Mr. Shenkman was named Financial Planning Magazine 2012 Pro-Bono Financial Planner of the Year for his efforts on behalf of those living with chronic illness and disability. Investment Adviser Magazine featured him on the cover of its April 2013 issue naming as the lead of their “all-star lineup of tax experts.”

CLE Credits

InterActive Legal is not an approved Continuing Education Sponsor. However, some states or regulatory agencies for professionals that participate in our teleconferences may provide continuing education credit for their participation. If a participant wishes to receive CE credit for their participation in these teleconferences, they must apply to receive credit on their own and through their individual states and regulatory authorities. It is the responsibility of the participant to file for CE credit and is not guaranteed by InterActive Legal.

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