Partner, Dutcher & Zatkowsky
Years in current role: 40
What do you enjoy most about practicing trusts and estates law?
Time after time, I can tell I removed a burden from a client when I see their shoulders drop and witness that sigh of relief. Clients leave a meeting with me feeling they have less to worry about and can focus their attention on their family, rather than their legal concerns. Being able to help someone in that way lets me know I’m in the right profession.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?
Like for so many, this past year has been one big challenge after the next. The pandemic hit everyone hard and we were no exception. One of the biggest challenges for myself and my team was figuring out how to get critical legal documents like advance directives (health care proxies, living wills, powers of attorney, etc.) signed and executed when we were all in “lockdown” and couldn’t meet in person. It was especially trying and, I will add, heart-breaking when it was for someone in a nursing home or a hospital worried about getting or having contracted COVID-19 because the situation was so urgent. Thanks to changes in the law to allow for remoting signing, help from our technology partner, and my determined and creative team, we were able to overcome and support all our clients’ needs.
What do you see as the biggest changes in the legal industry in the next 3-5 years?
Now that the Emergency Relief has been lifted, we can no longer witness or notarize remotely. As we experience a surge of the Delta variant, I hope and believe we will see a permanent solution allowing attorneys to witness and notarize documents virtually. That will make a huge difference in the lives of nursing home residents and clients who are home-bound.
What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?
A few of the organizations I support as a volunteer include the Rochester & Finger Lakes Region Alzheimer’s Association, the Future Care Planning Pooled Supplemental Needs Trust, Catholic Family Center, and Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc. I have long been passionate about helping people, especially those who tend to be under-represented and under-served in our community such as elders, persons with special needs and veterans. It’s important to me to understand their needs not only so that I can better help and serve them, but so that I can help spread awareness to encourage more people to join the fight and do the same.