By Heather Agun, Edited by Becky Pearsall
*Created under the direct legal supervision of Stephen Waltar. See Disclaimer
Photos by Heather Agun
In 2000, Andrea Lee found herself standing in the aisle of a Barnes and Noble. During her short tenure as an elementary school teacher, Andrea had realized that she wanted to do something different. So she picked out a heavy text, a study guide for the LSATs, and brought it home. As she made her way through the guide for the next few months, she was still unsure if this was the right path. Ultimately, she chose to leave it up to chance.
This March, our firm welcomed Andrea Lee onto our staff. She is now an experienced estate planning attorney with almost 15 years of experience. I sat down with her to learn more about her life and her journey as an estate planning attorney. How did she go from 3rd grade teacher to all-star estate planner?
Andrea grew up just up the road in Bothell, Washington. Her parents, Brazilian and American, spoke Portuguese regularly at home. She also studied and lived abroad in France for a year and can still carry a conversation in both Portuguese and French! She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education, majoring in French at Western Washington University. There, she met her now-husband in the dorms during her freshman year.
I was initially surprised to hear that Andrea didn’t always intend to be a lawyer. But after hearing more of her story, her progression from teacher to attorney started to make a lot of sense. After university, she taught elementary school for a short time. But soon after her teaching career had begun, she realized she wanted to take a different path. This is how she ended up in that Barnes & Noble. There, she decided to leave her career to fate. If she did well on the LSATs, she would apply to law school.
She decided to leave her career to fate. If she did well on the LSATs, she would apply to law school.
Andrea had a long wait, though. It wasn’t until months after taking the LSATs that her score finally came… and she had done amazing! When she was accepted into the University of Washington law school on a partial scholarship, she finally knew she was on the right path.
Her daughter was born just one week after her last finals in law school, so she took some time to raise her family before taking the bar and jumping into work. She has now worked exclusively in estate planning, probate, guardianship, and elder law for almost 15 years.
I asked her what made her want to become an attorney. She told me that she’s noticed that there seems to be a lot of teachers that become attorneys, and a lot of attorneys that become teachers. She thinks it takes the same kind of person – someone who loves learning and wants to help others. “I became an attorney because I like people. I like to help people.”
“I never wanted to be a litigator… in order for your client to win, someone else has to lose. Not in estate planning… I just wanted to go home and know that I made something better for someone else.”
On why she chose estate planning, she told me “I never wanted to be a litigator. In litigating, in order for your client to win, someone else has to lose. Not in estate planning. So, when I went to law school, I actually focused on Estate Planning there. I just wanted to go home and know that I made something better for someone else.”
After years of practicing, her career of preparing families for aging became even more personal when her own mother developed dementia. Andrea learned firsthand how dementia and aging can affect a family.
More Than Just Estate Planning
Andrea now lives with her husband and two children in the Renton area. She spends most of her free time with her family. She cares for her mother, cheers her children on at their sporting events, and hangs out with her husband and their dog.
At our firm, Andrea uses her years of experience in Estate Planning to help our clients in every way she can. She is an expert at identifying client needs and drafting effective estate plans for them. She also manages many of our probates and trust administrations.
“I like to create solutions to problems.”
But her personal experience with dementia and her passion for helping people has led her to expand even more. Now she also practices elder law, helps clients with guardianships, helps with planning for incapacitated adults, advises care options, and helps with life planning. She says “I like to create solutions to problems.” And creating solutions is exactly what she does, as she helps her clients explore decisions for a better retirement and a better life.
*This blog post was written under the supervision of an attorney, Stephen M. Waltar, and all legal opinions shared are that of the attorney. See Disclaimer